OCTOBER 24, 2003
DVD Studio Pro 2: Highlights and Overlays
Part 2: Exploring color options for menu highlights using overlays
by David Nagel

Last week we took a look at most of the possibilities available for creating custom button highlights in DVD Studio Pro. The process involved creating highlights within each individual button in your menu, which is probably the better way to do it in most cases. But there is an alternate method, that of using overlays. So today we'll take a look at this method and also wrap up our discussion of customizing colors for menu- and button-based highlights.

If you're not completely familiar with DVD Studio Pro, you might want to look at some of our previous articles covering more general and preliminary aspects of the program before moving on to this current topic. The following is a list of articles available here as of this writing.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Why an overlay?
So what in the bejeepers is an overlay? Overlays are used in the "standard method" of DVD menu creation, meaning that they're used in conjunction with Shapes, rather than complete menus created using the "layered method." Simply, an overlay is a graphic file that resides as the topmost layer in your DVD menu structure, separate from buttons/drop zones and backgrounds. It's an invisible element for the most part, except when a button is selected, in which case a portion of the overlay becomes visible as a highlight over the area of your button.

In terms of format, an overlay can be just about any 8-bit file format, including PSD, TIFF, TGA, JPEG, BMP, PICT and any QuickTime image format. The files can be multi-layered, though the layers will be merged within DVD Studio Pro. And they can be full-color, though, as discussed below, colors will be interpreted by DVD Studio Pro and used as a guide for mapping highlight colors. So, essentially, the most color you can get out of an overlay is four colors.

An overlay isn't, by any means, a necessary component to your DVD menu, but it does have a couple advantages over the method of creating a highlight discussed in our previous article. First, overlays have more flexibility when it comes to highlight colors. Multi-colored highlights are easier to produce, and soft edges can be emulated much more easily. In addition, in many cases an overlay can be used not just to define a highlight, but also to conceal contents of the original button. In other words, using an overlay, you can create a unique rollover state, replacing your button in the selected or activated state, not just highlight the edges of your Shape.

Let's take a look at how overlays work.

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