SEPTEMBER 04, 2003
DVD for Designers
Part 1: An introduction to the basics of the medium
by David Nagel

With the print and Internet publishing industries still recovering from their three-year-old slump, designers, in order to survive, have to seek opportunities wherever they arise. One such opportunity still in relative infancy is graphic design for DVD. I'm not talking about commercial DVD production for movie studios. If you're in that business already, you're set. If you're not, good luck. What I'm talking about is the proliferation of DVD among a whole range of production services with one thing in common: the need for high-quality graphics design services.

That's where you come in.[an error occurred while processing this directive]Using the tools you already own and the skills you've already developed as a graphic designer, you can, quite easily, transition into design for DVD. Look around you. The world has already embraced DVD, and your potential clients, now more than ever, are adopting it as well. Just take event videographers, for example. If you look through your local yellow pages, you won't find a single one that doesn't offer wedding videos on DVD. The same goes for videographers of other types of events, as well as producers of corporate and training videos. So the opportunities are there. You just need to know how to apply your current skills to the task at hand.

Now, we've already gotten started on series covering both DVD Studio Pro 2.0 and iDVD, both from Apple. But I thought it would be useful for you if we were to backtrack a bit and discuss issues involved in graphic file creation for DVDs. How, for example, does the production of graphic elements for DVDs differ from print design or Web design? In some ways it's simpler, since you don't have to deal with high-resolution graphics, as you do in print, and you don't have to worry about bandwidth constraints or browser compatibility, as you do with the Web. Let's get into some of the basics. In this installment, we'll cover what types of (still) graphics go into the creation of a DVD, as well as some of the issues involved with designing images that will be viewed on a television.

Graphic elements in a DVD
You don't have to know anything about the structure or coding of a DVD to build graphics for one. You just need to know what sorts of elements go into the making of a DVD's graphics. There's the background, which can be either a piece of video, a still image or a combination of both. It will be the backdrop for your menus, and so you'll want to keep it uncluttered so that users will be able to navigate easily through the menu options.

The image above shows a sample layout for a wedding DVD with a simple, linen-textured background designed to simulate the look of our hypothetical couple's wedding invitations. (The image is seen within the interface of the Simulator in Apple DVD Studio Pro 2.0.) Menus will be added to access video and still images from the ceremony. (Incidentally, if you like the foil effect on the bride and groom, I'll be showing you how to do it in a separate tutorial on Adobe Photoshop next week.)

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