Adobe Encore CS3 is a powerful program for authoring DVDs, Blu-ray discs and SWF content (you cannot obtain Encore separately). It's a fully professional and functional program for all your DVD needs.
It's new features include tighter integration with Photoshop. When creating menus in Encore, they are present as native Photoshop files with features such as shape layers, blending modes, adjustment layers, and as a text engine with direct export to Adobe After Effects. Within Encore you'll find a variety of templates for menus and these menus are can be opened in Photoshop and edited with changes taking place live, or create your own set of menus directly in Photoshop, special code the layers, and open them directly in Encore. If you're in Adobe Premier CS3, you can specify areas of the timeline with Encore markers and then export back into Encore with all the markers present exactly where you put them. For Adobe After Effects, the process is to export into After Effects, create the animations then link everything back into Encore with Dynamic Link. You can smoothly create content in Encore and export it as a fully operational Adobe Flash SWF file with motion video support.
Using Flowchart helps you to create pathways to the different parts of the project. It's completely visual and easy to learn. You'll never have to wonder if you've linked all of the parts of the menu with everything in the project because there is a area at the bottom of the flowchart that shows you visually what needs to be linked. You cannot complete the project without everything being linked or errors will occur.
With the Slideshow Editor, you can easily select which photos you want and designate either browseable or autoplay, then choose to have music and transitions accompany the show. There are also a variety of choices as to what kind of transitions you want and you can specify how long the transitions should exist.
Encore CS3 is fairly easy to learn and is a powerful instrument for creating a wide variety of menus and linking everything together. I'm very impressed with it's capabilities and love the Flowchart area. Only wish that the flowchart concept could be incorporated into Flash as well.