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DVD Studio Pro 3: In the Studio by Marc Loy

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Chapter 4. Great Menus: Motion

There’s so much to menus in DVDSP that we had to include another chapter on them. This chapter tackles several zippy projects that include motion menus (with video and audio elements), using the built-in transitions from DVDSP 3. Chapter 11 covers custom transitions.

Video Transitions

On the way to making full-motion menus, DVDs allow for a nice intermediate step that doesn’t require much effort to include in your DVDSP projects. When you switch between menus, you can add a transition much like we did between slides at the end of Chapter 3. In fact, you have access to exactly the same set of transitions. DVDSP treats the last frame of the current menu and the first frame of the destination as two slides and builds a transition between them.

However, as with slides, this feature is available only in DVDSP 3 and higher. But there’s a fallback for these transitions, just as there was for the slides. You can create video sequences in your video editing software and squeeze them into menus. These menu transitions built outside of DVDSP are a bit more complex, so we put them in their own chapter—Chapter 11. You’ll also see how to build your own custom transitions in that chapter if the existing set doesn’t satisfy your creative needs.

In the meantime, those of you using DVDSP 3 are in for a nice treat. Transitions are simple to set up and they provide quick flash to your projects.

Creating menus using the graphical interface

Even though we’re reusing content from a previous project, we’re going to build this more or less from scratch again. This time, however, we’ll rely on the Graphical view (also new to DVDSP 3) for our primary content canvas.

A graphical interface demonstration

Start by importing the same assets we used for the Castle Tours DVD in Chapter 3:

  • cawdor.m2v

  • cawdor.AC3

  • holyrood.m2v

  • holyrood.AC3

  • urquhart.m2v

  • urquhart.AC3

In addition, you can obtain the following new menu images from the projects/ch04 directory:

  • cawdor_menu.pict

  • holyrood_menu.pict

  • urquhart_menu.pict

  • quick_castle_tours_scaled.psd

Now perform the following steps:

  1. Open the DVDSP Graphical View. You can open the Graphical view with the Control-

    image with no caption

    5 keyboard shortcut. Figure 4-1 shows that tab in its initial state. It also highlights the context menu (Control-click or right-click) for menus.

    Deleting an item from the Graphical view

    Figure 4-1. Deleting an item from the Graphical view

  2. Delete the Default Menu. We want to delete the default menu. Go ahead and do that now. You also can delete the default track the same way.

  3. Add a Layered Menu. With the default parts cleaned up, you can add your layered menu. You can do that using any of the techniques from Chapter 3, but Figure 4-2 shows the context menu in the Graphical view and how to use that for the new layered menu.

    Creating a new item in the Graphical view

    Figure 4-2. Creating a new item in the Graphical view

  4. Set the First Play and Remote Control Options. As before, deleting the default menu will leave your First Play and Remote Control options unset. Figure 4-3 shows a recap of the disc properties you’ll want to set in the Property Inspector for the disc. (Clicking anywhere in the background of the Graphical view will make the disc the focus of the Property Inspector.)

    Resetting the Remote Control actions after creating the new main menu

    Figure 4-3. Resetting the Remote Control actions after creating the new main menu

    Using the Graphical interface to choose the First Play item

    Figure 4-4. Using the Graphical interface to choose the First Play item

    Identifying the First Play item in the Graphical view

    Figure 4-5. Identifying the First Play item in the Graphical view

    A reminder on setting up layers for buttons in the layered menu

    Figure 4-6. A reminder on setting up layers for buttons in the layered menu

    You can set the First Play property in the Inspector or use the context menu in the Graphical view (see Figure 4-4) for the new layered menu. You can verify that your menu is the first play target by looking for the DVD-with-pointer icon in the upper-left corner. Figure 4-5 calls out that icon.

  5. Define the Three Buttons for the Castle Tours. You do this in the Menu view just as you did in Chapter 3. You’ll use the Inspector for each button to turn on the appropriate layers. Figure 4-6 shows a reminder for the layers you need.

  6. Add the Submenus. To add a submenu to your project, grab its background asset from the Assets view and drop it in the Graphical view, as shown in Figure 4-7. We’ll use the PICT assets from the project/ch04 folder for our submenus. You’ll have to do this one menu at a time. Dropping multiple image assets in the Graphical view creates a new slideshow!

    Drag-and-drop creation of a new menu in the Graphical view

    Figure 4-7. Drag-and-drop creation of a new menu in the Graphical view

    Adding multiple video tracks via the Graphical view

    Figure 4-8. Adding multiple video tracks via the Graphical view

    The visual result of adding our tracks

    Figure 4-9. The visual result of adding our tracks

    Drag-and-drop addition of an audio track in the Graphical view

    Figure 4-10. Drag-and-drop addition of an audio track in the Graphical view

  7. Add Tracks and Audio. You can use the same drag-and-drop approach for the tracks. Although this time, you can grab all the tracks and drop them in at one time (see Figure 4-8). You’ll probably get a stack of tracks that are too close together to be useful. Reorganize them however you want to make them easier to access. We ended up with the arrangement shown in Figure 4-9.

    Clicking any of the track items in the Graphical view should make that track the focus of the Property Inspector as well as make the track available in the Track view. If the audio was not attached automatically to the video track, you can do that quickly in either the Track or Graphical view. Figure 4-10 shows how to add an audio track to a video clip in the Graphical view.

  8. Check Out the Tool Tips. Although this Graphical view is great for getting a good overview of your project, it doesn’t show too many details on the items themselves. If you let your mouse hover over an item, though, you’ll get a fairly verbose tool tip (small pop-up window) with information on that item. In particular, you can see how many video and audio tracks are attached. Figure 4-11 shows the tool tip for one of our video items.

    Some tool tip information provided in the Graphical view

    Figure 4-11. Some tool tip information provided in the Graphical view

  9. Link the Buttons to the Submenus. Hook up the buttons from the main menu to point to their respective submenus. Each submenu has a Play and a Back button. Just define simple buttons for each. We chose to use the Arrow Point shapes in the Apple-supplied list. The Play buttons should point to the video tracks. Figure 4-12 shows the Inspector for the Play button on our Holyrood menu.

    Property summary for our Play buttons

    Figure 4-12. Property summary for our Play buttons

    When you’re done, you should end up with the items and connections shown in Figure 4-13. You’ll probably want to set the End Jump properties on each track to point somewhere useful. We send the user back to the submenu.

    Our initial setup for the augmented Castle Tours DVD

    Figure 4-13. Our initial setup for the augmented Castle Tours DVD

Specifying transitions

Now that you have the project flow completed, adding transitions happens quickly. Depending on how you want the transitions to behave, you can specify them in one of two places. A menu can have a default transition that applies to all its buttons. An individual button, though, can override that default with its own transition. We’ll try it both ways for this project.

Menu transitions

Figure 4-14 highlights the Transition tab of the Property Inspector for a menu. You can pick the transition from a pop-up list. Then you can tweak any parameters the transition might have—just as you did for slides. We chose the Push transition and set it up to take three seconds.

Setting the transition for the entire menu

Figure 4-14. Setting the transition for the entire menu

Any button on this menu now should use the Push transition to get to its target. If you want to test things out to make sure this is working, just launch the Simulator. Figure 4-15 shows one of our transitions in action.

Our new menu in midtransition

Figure 4-15. Our new menu in midtransition

Button transitions

Button transitions are analogous to all the other transitions; they’re simply specified in the Inspector for an individual button. Although it’s often easier to slap a default transition on a menu, adding a transition to each button enables you to vary the attributes of your transitions or even to supply different transitions altogether. (But don’t go overboard…too many transitions can be distracting from your overall project!)

Let’s add per-button transitions to the Back buttons on our submenus. Figure 4-16 shows you the general properties for the shape and target of the Back buttons.

Property summary for the Back buttons

Figure 4-16. Property summary for the Back buttons

The transition we chose is shown in Figure 4-17. Notice that we use the Push transition again, but this time we push to the right instead of using the default of left.

Setting the transition for one of the Back buttons

Figure 4-17. Setting the transition for one of the Back buttons

When all is said and done, your Graphical view should provide a complete overview of the project, as shown in Figure 4-18. Try it out in the Simulator. Don’t be too concerned if the transitions appear choppy or don’t function in real time. They’ll be rendered before the project is burned and should play quite smoothly in regular players.

Our completed transition project

Figure 4-18. Our completed transition project

One last note about the Graphical view: you can tell transitions are applied to an item by looking in the lower left-hand corner of the item’s thumbnail. That little blue triangle means a transition exists. Again, you don’t get details, but you do get a quick overview of everything that’s happening.

Motion Menus

The term motion menus is perhaps a misnomer. Motion certainly can be involved, but the menu doesn’t have to be in motion to count as a motion menu. Any menu with video or audio content (as opposed to a static or layered image) is a motion menu. Background audio—even with a still graphic for the image—is considered a motion menu. Buttons that show a small video clip require a motion menu. Subtle, wavy backgrounds with still buttons also are motion menus.

Music, motion backgrounds, and movie buttons might seem like disparate things, but they are closely tied together in the world of DVD menus. They all involve a common element: a video for the primary menu asset.

We’re drawing this distinction clearly because motion menus have some limitations. Although they can be arresting visually, things such as layered buttons do not work in motion menus. And remember, even if the only “motion” is an audio file playing in the background, you’re in motion-menuland.

Menus and music

Of course, sometimes the audio and video assets are worth including in your DVD. As an example, we’ll build a simple menu with an audio loop. Adding audio really can amplify the importance of an image. One interesting case of audio effects was studied with computer users looking at a still image of artwork. Half the users were shown the image on its own and half were shown the image with music playing in the background. The participants were asked about the image the next day. Many of the folks in the music group recalled watching an animated image.

If you have a simple still image that you use for a menu, you can add audio without much trouble—you can do it directly in DVDSP. In the first versions of DVDSP, you had to create a simple movie using your still image and the audio file in an editor such as iMovie or Final Cut Pro. That wasn’t difficult, but it certainly was annoying.

This next project is really a detour; it’s part of a larger project we’ll be building in this chapter. But it’s important to try it out and run it in the Simulator. You’ll want to see (and hear!) the end results.

An audio menu demonstration

First, grab the two assets you’ll need for this test from the projects/ch04 folder:

  • skiff.mp3

  • skiff_still.pct

For this quick menu, you’ll let DVDSP convert the audio file to the proper format. For larger projects, you need to make sure all your menu audio clips are encoded in the same way. (For example, on the DVD for this book, some of the other menus use AC3 audio, so we had to convert the MP3 for this project to AC3 as well.) You can set the image as the background for a new menu. Now we’re going to add the audio. Ready? Drag the skiff.mp3 file over to your menu and drop it there, as shown in Figure 4-19.

Specifying an audio file for the menu

Figure 4-19. Specifying an audio file for the menu

You’re done! At least, you’ve completed the business of adding audio. If you were setting up a real menu, you’d have to create and link the buttons, of course. But you were doing this to test the audio. Take a look at the Menu tab in the properties for the audio-enhanced menu in Figure 4-20.

The properties of the new audio menu

Figure 4-20. The properties of the new audio menu

There are a few interesting things to notice. First, you can see that an audio asset has been set. You can change the asset here later if you need to. Second, you can see that now the image has a start and end position. This menu uses a still image, so there’s not much reason to play with these values. (As you’ll see in the next project on quick video buttons, though, these values can be useful when playing with video assets.) DVDSP took the liberty of setting our values to match the duration of our audio clip—precisely what we want.

Go ahead and simulate your project and verify the audio is playing. You also should see another clue that you have a motion menu in the Simulator (see Figure 4-21). The counter is active—not stuck on 00:00:00, as it is for still menus.

Our audio menu in action in the Simulator

Figure 4-21. Our audio menu in action in the Simulator

End actions

Another default DVDSP chose for us that usually matches what we need is the At End property (highlighted in Figure 4-22).

Making sure our menu loops properly

Figure 4-22. Making sure our menu loops properly

Usually you just want to loop the audio when you’re done. You have two other choices, though.


This stops the audio (or video) and waits for the user to make a selection. This can be useful if you have some intro text or images that aren’t meant to loop.


This option stops the audio (or video) and jumps somewhere else. You can specify that action by picking a target similar to what you would do for a button. For example, Figure 4-23 shows us setting the end action for our Skiff menu to Timeout. One second after the audio stops, we default back to the main menu. This option can be a life-saver for kiosks in which you want to make sure you go back to your primary menu if the user walks away.

Using the Timeout feature for an alternate way to handle our menu

Figure 4-23. Using the Timeout feature for an alternate way to handle our menu

Quick Motion Buttons

Another quick way to get some dynamic content into your DVDSP projects is to use video assets directly for your buttons. You’ve actually done something quite similar when working with the templates in Chapter 1. You can do the same work in DVDSP with your own custom backgrounds.

Adding motion video buttons

Let’s make another quick-and-dirty test menu to prove how easy it is to incorporate your own video buttons.

Motion video button demonstration

Start a new project and grab the following files from the projects/ch04 folder:

  • castle_tours_scaled.psd

  • cawdor.m2v

  • cawdor.AC3

  • holyrood.m2v

  • holyrood.AC3

  • urquhart.m2v

  • urquhart.AC3

Then, perform the following steps:

  1. Create a New Menu. Use the castle_tours_scaled.psd file for the background of a standard menu (not a layered menu). Then, use the property sheet to turn on the background layer. See Figure 4-24 for an example. Notice that you don’t have any buttons now. That’s just fine.

    Setting up the background for the motion button menu

    Figure 4-24. Setting up the background for the motion button menu

  2. Create a Video Button. Grab the holyrood.m2v asset and drag it over to the menu. Choose the Create Button and Track option, as shown in Figure 4-25.

    Creating a motion button (and video track)

    Figure 4-25. Creating a motion button (and video track)

    Voilà! You should have a video button. We moved ours into position along the right side and ended up with the menu you see in Figure 4-26. The default size is based on the video’s aspect ratio. You can resize it as you want. DVDSP will scale and crop the video to fill the button while keeping the video’s aspect ratio intact.

    A video button

    Figure 4-26. A video button

  3. Add Video Buttons for the Other Tracks. As you add the other tracks you can reposition them in the menu. DVDSP will highlight alignment points with other objects in the menu. If you want, you also can steal some of the audio from one of the castles for the entire menu to utilize. The menu’s property sheet will enable you to choose which segment of the music you want to loop. It also sets the duration shared by all the other buttons. These properties are highlighted in Figure 4-27.

    Setting an overall audio file on a menu with video buttons

    Figure 4-27. Setting an overall audio file on a menu with video buttons

    You can use the property sheets for the individual buttons to select which video segment is seen in the menu loop (see Figure 4-28). As noted before, the menu properties determine the button loop’s duration (refer back to Figure 4-27).

Picking the starting point for your button loop

Figure 4-28. Picking the starting point for your button loop

Other Motion Menus

Background music is all well and good, but what about full-fledged video menus? The background is active, the buttons are active, there’s good audio, and you still can create fancy, custom buttons to jump to some other part of the disc. It all can be yours; you just have to do a bit more work when creating the menu.

It’s definitely easier in DVDSP 2 and higher than in earlier versions. (Previously you had to do all the motion work in some other application, such as Final Cut Pro or After Effects.)

For motion menus with basic buttons (rectangular highlights) you can do your work in just about any application. The end result essentially will be the same as in the previous example. For this next example, though, let’s move that skiff we worked on earlier.

Photoshop and Final Cut Pro

With Final Cut Pro, you can use some of your Photoshop skills to create motion menus that will be easy to deal with once you’re back inside DVDSP. First off, you need some footage of one of the skiffs. You’ll work with a rotating 3D clip of a skiff. On its own, this really isn’t enough, so you’ll call on Photoshop for some help.

Recall the still menu from the audio example. We used a flattened image. Let’s go back to the original Photoshop document with all the layers available. Cut out the area where the skiff was and you’ve got a nice image for compositing with video. Figure 4-29 shows the candidate menu. Notice the separate layers.

Photoshop menu construction

Figure 4-29. Photoshop menu construction

To use this image in Final Cut Pro, you simply need to delete the still-frame layer. The hole left behind will be transparent, not just white or some other background color. You should be left with a single layer that looks like the one in Figure 4-30.

The skiff menu with a cutout for the video clip

Figure 4-30. The skiff menu with a cutout for the video clip

In Final Cut Pro, load the skiff.mov file and put in enough copies to make the loop last about 30 seconds (or as long as you want the loop to last). You should have something similar to the timeline at the bottom of Figure 4-31.

Compositing stills and video in Final Cut Pro

Figure 4-31. Compositing stills and video in Final Cut Pro

Now get that menu document into Final Cut Pro. You’ll need to create a second video track and place the still image in that track. Extend the still to last as long as your video clip. Note that you also might need to manipulate the size of the video to get it just right. The transparent part of your menu should enable the real video clip to show through, as you can see in the upper-right corner of Figure 4-31.

That’s it for Final Cut Pro. After exporting the menu as an MPEG-2 movie, we’ll jump back into DVDSP.

Adding buttons to video menus

As with the audio-enhanced menu from the previous project, you need to click the Add Menu button in DVDSP to get going. Now you can drag the skiff_menu.m2v file onto the untitled menu, as shown in Figure 4-32.

Adding a video background to our video menu

Figure 4-32. Adding a video background to our video menu

You also can set the audio at this point, just as you did for the still menu. You’ll want to pay more attention to the loop points, though. Figure 4-33 shows the properties that make our video coincide with the duration of the audio. Notice that we’re off by a few seconds.

Matching up the video and audio loops

Figure 4-33. Matching up the video and audio loops

That’s OK. As long as you aren’t wildly off, DVDSP will fill in the gaps. It’s easiest to have too much video—you just get a few seconds of silence in the audio track. If the video doesn’t have an obvious loop point as ours does, you simply can line up the durations to match exactly.

We planned ahead in our Photoshop document, so we have some easy targets for creating buttons. Just drag the usual rectangle to the left of the text parts and choose a nice shape and a complementary color for the highlights. We picked the Simple Button shape and an off-white color at a transparency level of 5. Figure 4-34 shows the menu in Preview mode.

Woo-hoo! You’ve just created your first full-video menu. Well, OK, so it wasn’t that different from the menu to which you added the audio, but to paraphrase the inimitable Homer Simpson, we stand by our enthusiasm. Woo. Hoo.


Motion menus can feel restrictive when you get to the point where you’re creating the buttons that show up on the screen. Highlighting rectangles on the screen just isn’t as fancy as you might want to get. The Apple-supplied shapes help, but even those can be a bit repetitive. Although you are restricted to using overlays when you have a motion menu, you can make some pretty creative custom overlays.

Our full-motion video in Preview mode

Figure 4-34. Our full-motion video in Preview mode

At its heart, an overlay is just a Photoshop layer that tells DVDSP what to draw when you select the rectangle that defines a button. The default overlay is a solid layer, so the highlighted rectangle shows up as just that: a rectangle. But you can make fancier overlays.

1-bit (black-and-white) overlays

If you want a shape other than a rectangle to show up, you can create a Photoshop document to aid in this endeavor. Start with the standard NTSC-DV size document. Make the background completely white (or transparent). Now draw shapes in black wherever you want a custom-shaped button to appear. We often start with a still image of the video we’ll be overlaying as the background. Then we make the overlay layer partially transparent so that we can see where to draw our shapes. Check out Figure 4-35 for an example of creating skiff-shaped buttons.

A 1-bit button mask (left), and the same mask laid over our menu image (right, with false coloring)

Figure 4-35. A 1-bit button mask (left), and the same mask laid over our menu image (right, with false coloring)

The black parts will show up as the buttons in DVDSP. But be careful: only the black parts will show up. Notice that we had to create shapes for the “next” and “previous” arrows in our menu, too!

1-bit overlay demonstration

Here are the steps to follow to create a 1-bit overlay:

  1. Create a Motion Menu. Start by creating another motion menu using the same video clip you used for the previous project. You even will use the same number of buttons. This time, however, you’re going to add the overlay layer for the skiff-shaped buttons.

  2. Import the Photoshop Document and Set the Overlay Options. Import the skiff_with_mask.psd document into DVDSP. In the property sheet for the menu, notice the overlay options (see Figure 4-36).

    Using a mask with a video menu

    Figure 4-36. Using a mask with a video menu

    Set the overlay to use the skiff_with_mask.psd document. If you have more than one layer in the document, you’ll also have to pick which layer to use. Figure 4-37 highlights this part of the Inspector.

    Setting the specific layer to use for our mask

    Figure 4-37. Setting the specific layer to use for our mask

  3. Pick the Highlight Colors. You also should pick your highlight colors now. If you don’t, you won’t be able to see your buttons as you draw their bounding rectangles in the Menu editor. For our current menu, we’ll use both sets of highlights. We’ll use light blue for the skiff cutouts and light green for the next and previous buttons. Figure 4-38 shows the exact values we chose.

    Highlight colors for the masked buttons

    Figure 4-38. Highlight colors for the masked buttons

  4. Define the Buttons. If you haven’t defined the buttons yet, go ahead and do that now. There’s nothing fancy to do here; just set up the same old boring rectangular buttons. This time, though, make your rectangles cover the custom shapes you built in Photoshop. Figure 4-39 shows the results of outlining a masked area. Table 4-1 lists the exact coordinates for the buttons in this menu.

Creating buttons with an overlay mask

Figure 4-39. Creating buttons with an overlay mask

Table 4-1. Button coordinates for the skiff menu






Stats button





Lineage button





Engine button





Prev button





Next button





All is good so far. When you preview the menu, you should see shiny new skiff buttons, as shown in Figure 4-40.

Our overlay mask buttons in Preview mode

Figure 4-40. Our overlay mask buttons in Preview mode

You can use this same trick to create underlines, text, picture frames, or any other shape to use as a highlight. It obviously takes more planning than the simple highlights, but the results usually are worth the effort.

2-bit (grayscale) overlays

Although 1-bit overlays are easier to deal with, you can, in fact, use a 2-bit overlay with black, white, and two shades of gray (66% and 33%, respectively). Figure 4-41 shows these grays against a blue background for proper contrast.

The four shades of “gray” you can use in a 2-bit mask

Figure 4-41. The four shades of “gray” you can use in a 2-bit mask

You can use the shades of gray in one of two ways: as translucent variations of the highlight color, or as four separate colors. See Figure 4-42 for an illustration.

Variations on 1-bit and 2-bit masks

Figure 4-42. Variations on 1-bit and 2-bit masks

The translucent variations on the highlight color enable you to do things such as antialias your highlight shape. That can provide some smoother, more professional highlights.

The multicolor trick works even better, but requires a great deal of attention to details. You have to draw with the shades of gray, but you have to think in terms of the highlight colors. (Usually you’ll leave white as the completely transparent background.)

Let’s try this for ourselves. For the 2-bit overlays, we’ll work on the main skiff menu for Death and Transfiguration (which we covered earlier in this chapter). It has four screens that lead to the detail pages for each of the four skiffs. We want to highlight each screen in a separate color as the user navigates around the menu.

Another After Effects detour

First we start off by making our video clip for the menu. The creators of Death and Transfiguration built a control room with several video screens, one for each of the four skiffs. We’ll put a little spinning version of each skiff in its respective screen. Because they wanted to play with perspective and blinking lights and whatnot, the creators used After Effects to create this motion menu. Figure 4-43 shows the basic menu with and without the video elements.

An After Effects project to create a fancy motion menu

Figure 4-43. An After Effects project to create a fancy motion menu

We don’t have time to go through all the details of making the video in After Effects, but you can look at the complete project on your own. The dnt_main.aep file contains this project as well as the complete animation. The upshot is that we included four video loops that were imported as QuickTime movies. We ran the loops continuously for 30 seconds and exported the final product to DV, then used Compressor to get our MPEG-2 resource.

We could have done similar work with video drop zones in DVDSP, but the odd perspectives of the video clips and their short durations made it easier to build the loops in an external program.

Creating the overlay

Figure 4-44 outlines the steps we’ll have to go through to get our video menu and overlay ready for primetime.

Flow for creating a button overlay for a video menu

Figure 4-44. Flow for creating a button overlay for a video menu

Now that we have the video, we can create our overlay. Using the same basic menu background from the After Effects project (leave it at 720x480), start a new Photoshop document. Alternatively, you can make a screenshot of your menu at 100% in After Effects. That’s cheap, but at least you get a picture of the whole menu to play with. Create a new layer with a transparent background. (We’ll change it to a white background as our last step.) We’ll create borders around the various floating screens containing the skiffs, and we’ll use the different shades of gray to achieve different border colors for each skiff.

For each skiff screen, use the Polygon Select tool to create an outline similar to the screen, but a bit bigger. Figure 4-45 shows an example for the first skiff.

A polygon selection around our proposed button (far left)

Figure 4-45. A polygon selection around our proposed button (far left)

Fill that selection with one of your three grays (black, dark, or light).

Then choose Select Modify Contract to make the selection shrink by about 10 pixels. Now select Edit Clear to remove that selected area. Now your screen should pop through a nice gray border. Figure 4-46 shows the results for the first skiff. Figure 4-47 shows the borders for all four skiffs and the Death and Transfiguration logo.

Creating a button frame: the first fill (left), the contrasted selection (center), and the final, cleared result (right)

Figure 4-46. Creating a button frame: the first fill (left), the contrasted selection (center), and the final, cleared result (right)

The completed masks (left) and a preview of where they’ll land on the video (right)

Figure 4-47. The completed masks (left) and a preview of where they’ll land on the video (right)

Before you save the file, be sure to fill in the background of your mask layer to make it white. Save that file and import it into DVDSP. You’ll need to specify the overlay document and layer, just as you did before. Now edit the menu to create buttons over each of the four video screens in the menu. Figure 4-48 shows a completed menu. You can see that our outline shows up nicely for the currently selected button.

The outlines as buttons in DVDSP

Figure 4-48. The outlines as buttons in DVDSP

Fancy overlay schemes

Back in the property sheet for our menu, you’ll need to modify one more thing. For the overlay, you need to use a custom color scheme, so you can’t use the “simple colors.” Set the Overlay property to Advanced. You should see several new properties. We’ll pick some nice, garish colors and set their opacity to 10 (see Figure 4-49). For the Activated state, bump up that opacity to 15.

Nonsimple overlay color scheme for our menu

Figure 4-49. Nonsimple overlay color scheme for our menu

Set the 100%, 66%, and 33% options for Set 1 to yellow, magenta, and light green, respectively. Each color you use for the outlines should be 60% opaque for the Selected state and 100% opaque for the Activated state. You certainly can play around with those values to suit your tastes. (For example, you could set the Selected states to 100% opaque and then have all the Activated states set to 100% white.)

Notice that there are two sets of colors. You have three color schemes available for your buttons. Each scheme can have its own three colors plus a transparent option. We used the second set to give us five distinct colors for our outlines, plus the logo. It’s all a matter of planning out what you need to accomplish. If you’ve watched many DVDs lately, you can see that many designers aren’t that ambitious. But don’t let that stop you! Well-defined color overlays can create great-looking menus that exhibit great performance, too. Figure 4-50 shows some shots of our fancy overlay menu as seen from a television set.

Mask buttons with fancy overlay in action

Figure 4-50. Mask buttons with fancy overlay in action

Multicolor Buttons

Let’s take a look at one more quick project with 2-bit overlays. Instead of gaining access to six effective colors for buttons, let’s make one interesting, multicolor overlay button. We’ll head back to our Hawaii tour over the volcano and turn out a quick menu with fancy buttons.

The mask of the red death

Well, this isn’t as horrific as Poe’s mask, but we’re going to use our mask to produce some nice red lava on a volcano. And for a change, we’re going to use the mask for the button text as well. Figure 4-51 shows the grayscale version of the mask.

A 2-bit mask for a multicolored button and some text

Figure 4-51. A 2-bit mask for a multicolored button and some text

We intend to use the mask for all the menu options here. This isn’t common, but it enables us to be remarkably flexible in our background choices. We can use a layered menu, a standard menu, a standard menu with music, or even a full-video background. In fact, let’s go the full-video route.


One other thing to remember when building your mask is that fonts should not be antialiased if you’re using your shades of gray for distinct colors. Having the occasional red pixel show up around the edges of your light-blue text is not often a desirable thing!

Multicolor button demonstration

Start a new project in DVDSP and import the following files from the projects/ch04 folder:

  • overlay_scaled.gif

  • volcano.m2v

  • volcano.AC3

Notice that we didn’t include any menu files except for the mask document. That’s on purpose!

Now follow these steps:

  1. Create a Menu with the Video Clip as the Background. Create a new menu as you’ve done before. This time, however, drag the volcano.m2v file over and set it as the background, as shown in Figure 4-52. If you want, go ahead and add in the audio clip as well.

    Setting up the background for our multicolored buttons menu

    Figure 4-52. Setting up the background for our multicolored buttons menu

  2. Set the Loop Settings. We set the loop for about 30 seconds over the fairly constant, dried lava flows. The exact times are shown in the property sheet in Figure 4-53. Be sure to set the loop point at the starting point. The buttons don’t show up until the loop kicks in. That’s great for skipping over intro video that isn’t part of the loop, but until the loop point, the user won’t be able to see what he’s selecting.

    The loop settings for our video background (with a 3.5-second video lead-in)

    Figure 4-53. The loop settings for our video background (with a 3.5-second video lead-in)

  3. Set the Overlay Document to the Photoshop Mask File. Only one layer should exist, so you don’t have to worry about which one to pick.

  4. Set the Mask Colors. Before you create the buttons, get the colors set up. In the menu’s Property Inspector, take a look at the Colors tab. You want to use an “advanced” scheme that enables you to choose everything about the mappings. Figure 4-54 shows the options available for the Advanced color scheme.

    Using the Advanced color options for our multicolored buttons

    Figure 4-54. Using the Advanced color options for our multicolored buttons

    Notice that you can set different colors for each of the three states. You also can build three separate “sets” of buttons so that different categories or groups of buttons can have their own color mappings. We need to work with only the first set, but we want to make different colors for the three button states, as follows.

    The normal state

    Our normal state is, well, not quite normal. The text for our buttons appeared in the mask, so we need to make sure the text shows up even when the button is not selected or activated. The normal state is usually all transparent. We’re going to leave the two colors for the volcano transparent, but we’ll alter the color for the text (see Figure 4-55).

    The normal settings for our multicolored buttons

    Figure 4-55. The normal settings for our multicolored buttons

    The selected state

    For the selected state, we want the text to stand out and we definitely want the volcano icon to show up. For the text, we set the transparency on the text color to completely opaque. For the volcano, we pick a brown and a red and make them at least partially opaque. Figure 4-56 shows these settings.

    The selected settings for our multicolored buttons

    Figure 4-56. The selected settings for our multicolored buttons

    The activated state

    For the final state, we want to give the user confirmation that the player understood his selection. We’ll make the lava in the icon completely opaque and change the color of the text just for good measure. Those settings are shown in Figure 4-57.

    The activated settings for our multicolored buttons

    Figure 4-57. The activated settings for our multicolored buttons

  5. Create the Buttons. Nothing new here; we just drag an outline over the button area, as we did before. This time, however, the buttons should appear as we’re dragging! Figure 4-58 shows this spiffy feature in action.

    The button (including its colors) appearing as we drag the new outline

    Figure 4-58. The button (including its colors) appearing as we drag the new outline

    Notice that the colors (and opacity levels) we picked for the normal state of the buttons made the text show up even before we selected it as part of a button.

Hook up the buttons to the chapter markers, as you normally would, and take your new multicolor buttons for a spin. Figure 4-59 shows our menu running in the Simulator.

Our multicolored volcano buttons in action

Figure 4-59. Our multicolored volcano buttons in action

Clever use of advanced mappings

Just a quick parting note: you can do some clever things with these 2-bit masks and the advanced color schemes. One very clever trick is to use the three shades of gray to build three unique icons. They have to occupy the same space, so you can’t go completely crazy, but you can do additive things to the icons.

We won’t bother to build an entire menu project for this snippet, but Figure 4-60 shows an example of such a dynamic icon. The only trick to using this in DVDSP is to make sure you keep the unwanted colors fully transparent in the normal and selected states.

Figure 4-60. A complex multicolored button

Figure 4-60.  Figure 4-60. A complex multicolored button

In this example you could set the following colors and transparency levels for the different shades of gray, as shown in Table 4-2. Remember that a transparency of 0 is fully transparent, and a transparency of 15 is fully opaque.

Table 4-2. Highlight colors for a complex overlay (as shown in Figure 4-57)






Blue, 15

Blue, 15

Blue, 15

Dark gray

Black, 0

Black, 0

Yellow, 15

Light gray

Black, 0

Yellow, 15

Yellow, 15


Black, 0

Black, 0

Black, 0

Appendix B has some more notes on color combinations with respect to menu buttons. The DVD included with the book also has some onscreen tests with various colors so that you can judge for yourself what combinations are appealing.

Layered Versus Standard Menus

Now that you’ve seen all the possibilities for both layered and standard menus, we thought we’d recap their features. Table 4-3 contains a few pros and cons to keep in mind when you’re planning your project.

Table 4-3. Pros and cons of the menu types in DVDSP

Layered Menus


Standard Menus






Fine-grained control over background and buttons.

Requires extra planning; “new” buttons mean editing original graphic elements.

Buttons and menu structure are very dynamic; “new” buttons can be created on-the-fly, often without penalty.

Static background (even if it’s video). All information required for the menu must be present in that one background element.

Completely custom buttons with control over normal, selected, and activated states.

Slower response to user input.

Buttons are overlays which are managed by the player hardware—very good button response times.

Limited to (effectively) three colors per button.

Great integration of dynamic graphic elements.

No video or audio elements.

Allows video and audio elements.

Takes up more space on the disc.

Works great with Photoshop.

Requires Photoshop.

Works with Photoshop as well as other graphics editing programs.

Did you read that three-color limit on buttons?

Beyond Menus

Although menus certainly constitute a vast majority of the “work” that goes into a DVDSP project, the physical menus are only part of the possibilities. Now that you have the basics for all the various types of menus under your belt, we’ll look at some of the other features you can pack into a DVD. We’ll start by adding support for multiple languages and move on to other fun topics such as scripting and games. But don’t forget the lessons from these menu chapters—every project you build will have at least one menu!

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