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Kodak Build-It Review
By: Ted Felix

Introduction

January 9, 2001. I managed to get hold of a copy of Kodak's incredibly hard to find Build-It software version 1.5.1 dated 3/8/1996. Here's what I found.

What you need

Build-It is designed to run under Windows NT 3.51, and it runs just fine under Windows 98. As a result, it should run fine under Windows 95, and Windows ME (and all future versions of NT and Windows 95). You'll need a CD Recorder, PMF2TRK, and CD recording software supported by PMF2TRK. Golden Hawk's CDRWIN works just fine.

What it does

Build-It can create a Kodak Photo CD Portfolio disc that can hold up to 700 images for viewing on a Kodak Photo CD player. Images can come from PCD or TIFF files. Build-It converts the images to PCD format with any resolution you want up to 3072x2048. I'm not sure whether it will support the Pro Photo CD resolution (6144x4096). Obviously, you won't be able to fit 700 images on the CD at 3072x2048. But you can fill the CD completely, there is no 100 image limit like with Photo CD Master discs.

How it works

First you need to create a script to define the order of the images on the CD. Kodak has three tools to do this. ScriptMaker is the simplest tool and it is included with Build-It. The others are Arrange-It which allows you to create presentations with menus and branches in it, and Create-It which is a stripped down version of Arrange-It for the Mac only.

ScriptMaker is a very simple utility that lets you select the images you want on your CD, then lets you put the images into the order you want them to appear. You can also specify whether the images will be sized a certain way, cropped, or rotated.

Once you have a script put together, ScriptMaker will create a "package" which contains the script and the associated image files. This is used by "CD Builder" to build a pre-master (PMF) file image of the Kodak Portfolio Photo CD.

Since CD Builder only supports Kodak's CD writers, you'll need to use other software at this point. Shiresoft's PMF2TRK will convert the PMF file into a cuesheet and track files for Golden Hawk's CDRWIN. Then CDRWIN can cut the physical CD.

Things To Watch Out For

Be sure to set up ScriptMaker to make scripts for 74 minute CDs. The installed default is for 63 minute CDs and will probably limit the number of images you can put in your script.

ScriptMaker is a bit picky about the kinds of TIFF files it will accept. It will accept uncompressed TIFF files from Photoshop 5.5. It will not accept TIFF files with LZW compression. It will not accept any TIFF files generated by ThumbsPlus 4.10-s. Silly me, I didn't try BMP files. BMP files should work better since the file format is very simple. Build-It should recognize BMP files no matter what software made them. I'll have to try this on my next Photo CD.

It appears that ScriptMaker does not resize your images for you in "fit" mode. Your best bet is to bring in images that are as close to one of the typical Photo CD resolutions as possible without going over. The moment you go over (say to 769x513) you end up with a tiny little image since this gets placed in a frame of the next size up (1536x1024).

As its author says, PMF2TRK is a bit rough around the edges. DO NOT use PMF2TRK on a PMF file in a directory that has spaces in its name. DO NOT move the cue sheet and trk files to another directory. The directory of the TRK files is in the cue sheet, so if you absolutely must move this stuff around, either move it to a directory with the same name and drive letter on another computer, or edit the cue sheet and fix the directory names. This might be fixed by replacing the full pathname in the cuesheet with "./". If that works, the author of PMF2TRK might want to consider doing that. If CDRWIN cannot compile your cuesheet, one of the above problems is probably why.

If you use CDRWIN, be sure to take CDRWIN's advice and turn off "Auto insert notification" and turn on "Disconnect" in your CD recorder's properties under Control Panel. If you don't, you will get interesting errors from CDRWIN (unexpected target error).

Kodak doesn't support this software and they definitely don't support this software when used with PMF2TRK. So if you have any trouble, try me first. I may have run into the same problem. Any and all success stories are welcome. I'd like to start a list of configurations that have worked for people (CD recorders, CD cutting software, etc...).

My Impression

Not a bad piece of software. Modern enough that it supports long filenames on the install, and within the program. Very simple to use. Would be nice if there was a more direct approach to doing the job, but for now, this will do.

Those Pesky Barcodes

The CD Builder documentation mentions that the Photo CD recorder does indeed read the barcode in the middle of the disc to get the disc ID. But, if it can't read the barcode, it asks the user to either specify a disc ID, or it will make one from the current date and time. This is probably the origin of the false rumor floating around that you cannot create your own Photo CDs since the reader looks for the barcode. When you select the PMF option, it makes the disc ID the current date and time (e.g. 0101 0912 3255 for 2001 January 9, 12:32:55).

Other Features

Build-It can also batch convert TIFF files to .PCD format. It can also do a number of other things like create ISO9660 CDs, etc.... But then CDRWIN can do that too.

Useful Stuff

Build-It Tutorial
By Rob Staskiewicz, takes you step-by-step through the process from ScriptMaker to CD-Builder to PMF2TRK to CDRWIN with screen shots and tips. Very helpful. (Word document, 1.9mb download)


Random Notes

This section contains my random notes as I read through the documentation and examined the contents of the Kodak Arrange-It/Build-It CD.

Player Directory

The player says it is for 386/486 PCs running Win3.1. Includes PCDLIB20.DLL.

READMEs Directory

KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE Arrange- and Build-It Portfolio Software

Eastman Kodak Company, 1996

Includes:

KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE Arrange-It Portfolio Layout Software, V1.0 for Windows

KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE Build-It Portfolio Production Software, V1.5.1 for Windows NT and WINDOWS 95

ADOBE ACROBAT Reader software

KODAK CMS YCC TIFF Export Plug-in Module for ADOBE PHOTOSHOP

windows/acrobat Directory

Very old version of acrobat reader from March 1996.

windows/arrangit Directory

Windows 3.1

Arrange-It lets you assemble WAV audio files, TIFF files, PCD Files and BMP files into a presentation. The presentation can also have menus which let the viewer of your presentation navigate through it.

Arrange-It includes a viewer simulation so you can check out your presentation and make sure it looks right.

The end product of the Arrange-It software is a script. This script combined with the original image and audio files can be used to create a Photo CD Portfolio disc.

These files can be taken to a Photo CD service provider to have a Photo CD Portfolio disc made, or you can do it yourself with Build-It.

Text Outline Language can be used to write your own scripts.

windows/yccexprt Directory

Photoshop Plug-In for creating YCC TIFF files.

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Disclaimers: Kodak's Build-It software was discontinued quite some time ago. If you find this software anywhere, it is probably an illegal copy. Kodak will not support this software in any way. I am not affiliated with any of the links or link owners mentioned in this page. All trademarks are owned by their respective owners. There are no ads on this page, and there never will be. Use this information at your own risk. Perform your own experiments before committing to PhotoCD for any purpose. I won't be held responsible for anything that happens to you as a result of reading this, using Kodak's software, or following these links. Shake well before serving. The contents of this page are Copyright 2001, with all rights reserved by me, Ted Felix.

Copyright ©2001, Ted Felix