Making Enhanced CDs
Making Enhanced CDs

1  Making Enhanced CDs
2  What's an E-CD?
3  The Content
4  Encoding the CD
5  Autorun
6  Burn It, Test It, Press It

Page 3 — The Content

If you want to make an E-CD, you need to get creative and come up with some goodies that will inform and entertain your audience.

For some, making websites and E-CDs and answering fan email has been the most rewarding experience of being in a band. I mean, it's fun to get up on the stage and play, but it's even more rewarding to be able to communicate online with fans and teach people stuff you've learned along the way.

You don't have to be a multimedia expert to create an E-CD, either. Sure, you can put a really cool QuickTime movie or Director file on your E-CD, but you can also just put HTML files or even Word files and pictures. You can put your discography, your favorite links, your lyrics, movies you've made, links to your website, and whatever else you can dream up. Space is your only limitation.


So you can see there are lots of possibilities for content on E-CDs. But if you want to do something simple, you might just put your website on a CD — all you need is Simpletext or Notepad, or a simple HTML editor. Then you just make a file, name it Anything.html, and it will open up in a browser. You don't have worry about servers or loading times or any of that nonsense since it's all on the CD, and you should have plenty of space because most websites are much smaller than the amount of room you have left on your CD.

If you want to add some text or pictures to the E-CD, just add a folder with some Word documents, and write something pithy or funny, or both. And if the text isn't provocative enough, you could always throw in some pictures of yourself.

Digital Movies

If you decide your E-CD will have a digital movie, you'll need a few tools. First off, a digital camera and a Firewire (or iLink) connector and some software like iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Quicktime Pro or Adobe Premiere. Using any of these programs, you can create a Quicktime or MPEG movie to plop onto your disc as a second session.

The person looking at your E-CD in the computer will see a little movie icon that they can click on and play. The tricky part about putting a movie on your E-CD is to make sure you've compressed it correctly. Not every movie format will play off a CD-ROM. Tools like Media Cleaner Pro will help you compress a movie into a QuickTime or MPEG so it will play off a CD-ROM. And since the movie info is coming off a CD-ROM drive into a computer processor, be careful about data-rate limitations. MPEG is a good format for CD-ROM, or if you're using QuickTime, use the Sorenson or Cinepak CODECS, with as low a data rate as you can handle without your movie looking like a bunch of boxes. For more movie-making tips, check out Reno's QuickTime article.

To make an E-CD, you're going to need access to a CD-burner and some CD-burning software that allows you to create multi-session disks.

If you're not sure what kind of CD burner to buy, you can check out your options at the Lycos CD/DVD buy guide.

Before going any further, I should explain the magic that allows E-CDs to play in both CD players and computers.


Each time you use your CD-burner, you are burning a "session" onto your CD-R. Making an audio CD generally means burning ONE session consisting of a bunch of audio tracks. Most times, when you finish that first session, you "close out the disc," meaning you cannot burn anything else onto it. In this case, burning an E-CD means burning that one session of audio tracks, but leaving the disc "open for writing," and then burning a second (and final) session with data, which will look like any old folder on your computer. And that's what it will look like on another person's computer, too.

There are actually a bunch of different standards for encoding CDs, but we will concentrate on E-CD with CD Plus (or CD-Extra), otherwise known as the "blue book" standard.

Historically, there were three different ways of making E-CDs: Hidden Track, Mixed Mode, and CD-Plus. Back in the dark ages, when Windows machines had CD-ROM drives that could only read one session, people would use Hidden Track, with DATA portion hidden from your stereo, on Track 0; or worse, Mixed Mode CDs, with the DATA portion on Track 1 of your CD. With the latter, a Mixed Mode CD, your first AUDIO song would start at Track 2. This was very compatible with CD-ROM drives, but had a tendency to blow out your CD player's speakers if you accidentally played Track 1.

I remember seeing an old CD with a label on it, "WARNING! DO NOT PLAY TRACK 1 OF THIS CD IN YOUR STEREO!" Can you imagine? Experimental music freaks might be interested in what computer data sounds like when played back through audio speakers (I remember spending two weeks of my life trying in vain to record a fax with a cassette recorder and play it back into the fax machine to recreate the picture. The fax handshake was what stumped me ... I couldn't recreate it with a non-intelligent audio player.)

Anyway, back at the very end of the 20th Century, most every CD-ROM manufacturer produced CD-ROM drives and drives that could handle multi-session CDs. A Specification for CD Plus was acknowledged by the Big Companies (Sony and Philips, Microsoft and Apple), and all the major labels and the RIAA agreed to implement and promote the CD Plus standard. So CD Plus, or CD-Extra, is a multi-session CD where the first session is audio and the second is data.

Standard Audio CD players can play a multi-session disc but won't pay attention to anything past the first session. CD-ROM drives in computers can now read the data (second) session of the CD-ROM. So everyone is happy.

So you're probably itching to make one of these now, eh?

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