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Buttons over Video in DVD Studio Pro

Part 1: Basic creation of track button overlays By Dave Nagel
I get this DVD authoring question a lot: Is it possible to place interactive buttons over a track so that they appear while a movie is playing, rather than forcing users to return to a menu to make selections? Yes indeed it is. And, in fact, while these track buttons are a bit more limited than standard buttons in a menu, there are quite a few nice little tricks you can do with them in Apple's DVD Studio Pro.

Before we get into some of these tricks (beginning with Part 2 in this series), I'd like to provide you with a little background on the actual creation of buttons that appear over a track. DVD Studio Pro's manual does cover this to a certain extent, but I don't think it's entirely clear on some points, especially for beginners. So before we get into some of the more difficult tricks of track buttons, I want you to have a clear understanding of the basics. (In the next installment we'll look at creating scripts for calling up and dismissing track buttons on the fly. Following that, we'll look at a method for animating track buttons.)

Also, if you're not too familiar with buttons and overlays, or if you'd like further information on buttons or other aspects of DVD Studio Pro, you might do well to go back and read some of our previous tutorials. Here are the articles we have published on DVD Studio Pro to date.

DVD Studio Pro Scripting, Series 1
Part 1: General scripting information
Part 2: Creating an interactive quiz
Part 3: Keeping track of time
Part 4: Pausing and resuming a timer

DVD Studio Pro Scripting, Series 2
Part 1: The basics of working with SPRMs
Part 2: Bit-wise operations and binary number conversion

General design and authoring topics
DVDSP General Walkthrough
Customizing Button States
Highlights and Overlays
Zoom Masks
Customizing Masks
Fixing color shift in DVD Studio Pro 2
Motion Masks (custom patches)
Remote Rollovers
Scripting, Part 1
Setting Up DTS Playback on the Mac
Creating Alpha Transitions, Part 1
Quick Tip on Stories
Alpha Transitions, Part 2
Delaying Button Highlights

DVD Studio Pro 2
DVD Studio Pro 3

Creating your button graphic
Track buttons behave almost exactly like menu overlays. That is, you create a graphic, overlay it onto your track and then use the colors or grayscale values in that graphic to map your Normal, Selected and Activated colors within DVD Studio Pro. While any kind of graphic can be used for this purpose, you will only be able to map a maximum of four colors to the graphic. Therefore it's better if you create your initial graphic with this in mind. It will save you from unpleasant surprises later on.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that you can only use four colors or four shades of gray in your overlay graphic. Anything more will be wasted and may cause problems with the appearance of your buttons on the final disc. The four colors that you use may or may not be the four colors that appear in your final button appearance; that depends on how you set the colors in DVD Studio Pro, which we'll get to later in this article. For now, let me just give you a couple examples to show you how colors are mapped to track buttons.

Say, for example, that you create a graphic using more shades of gray that just four. We'll take an example of a grayscale gradient that goes from black to white.

When this is mapped as an overlay in DVD Studio Pro, here's how it comes out. (Note that the four colors for your overlay needn't be these four colors. This is just an example to show how grayscale values are mapped.)

So what you need are four distinct grayscale values. And, if you want your background to be transparent, you'll be limited to just three values. So here's what I'll do instead. Using just four grayscale values, I'll create the following graphic in Adobe Photoshop. (The transparent background doesn't mean anything. For overlay files, transparent is interpreted as white in DVD Studio Pro.)

This graphic was created at 720 x 534 pixels for use as an overlay over a 4:3 video track. For an overlay over a 16:9 track, it's a bit tricky. You have a choice of using a standard 4:3 graphic, or you could use a widescreen graphic. A 4:3 graphic should look right when viewed in letterbox on a 4:3 display (such as regular, ol' television sets). But it will be stretched horizontally on a 16:9 display. On the other hand, an anamorphic graphic will look right on a 16:9 display, but it will be stretched vertically on a 4:3 display. I truly do not know why. This is a limitation of overlays on video, and I have not yet discovered a way around it. So I'll leave it up to you to puzzle over which type of system your viewers are most likely to be using. Let that dictate what type of overlay you'll use for your buttons over video. Try out some varieties of graphics for your use, and view them on different devices. And don't trust Simulator to give you an accurate representation of what will be seen on every screen. Button positioning will be off when viewing Pan & Scan, while it will look fine in 16:9 and Letterbox modes. Try both widescreen 1.2 and anamorphic 2:1 pixel aspect ratios. (Both are options in Photoshop CS.)

Again, I'll leave that to you to puzzle over and test on your own displays.

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Related Keywords:apple dvd studio pro, track buttons, buttons over video, interactive menus, menus over video, highlights, overlays

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