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Custom Patches in DVD Studio Pro 4

Part 1: Adding motion masks to buttons By Dave Nagel
In DVD Studio Pro, there are three fairly straightforward methods for creating buttons for your menus. You can simply click and drag to create a hotspot over your background; you can drop an asset onto your menu to make a button; and you can create custom shape files in Adobe Photoshop, then add asset on top of those. But there's also a fourth method, one that's completely undocumented, that can not only let you use custom shapes with your assets, but also apply special effects to your buttons, from motion masks to color filters and beyond.

This fourth type of button is called a "patch" or "patch shape." It's referred to as a patch because, in fact, it does patch into the compositing engine in DVD Studio Pro to enable special features that are otherwise inaccessible, such as motion masks and special effects.

Included with DVD Studio Pro 4 is a fairly large collection of special patch shapes to use with your buttons. You can access them by selecting your button in the menu window. Then, in the Inspector palette, you choose the patch shape file from the list of available shapes. Some will desaturate your assets. Some will tint them. Some will even reveal your assets over time.

There's a problem, though: As numerous as those default patch shapes are, they're unlikely to meet your needs in every situation. In fact, they're unlikely to meet your needs in most situations, unless you're the kind of person who's content to use pre-defined shapes that might not match the rest of your composition.

I'm not.

But I do want to access some of the special features of these pre-defined patch shapes, customizing them to suit my own needs. Although DVD Studio Pro's documentation repeatedly states that this is simply impossible, it is, in fact, entirely possible. It's just a little complicated. And by that I don't mean that it's a difficult process. It's just that the elements of the process are a bit obfuscated. You need to know where to look.

Each type of special patch feature that you want to use is located in a different place. Accessing them can be a bit convoluted, so, rather than throwing everything at you at once, I've decided to break down this tutorial series by effect type, starting with what I consider to be the most useful: motion masks.

What's a motion mask?
If you've ever created your own static button shapes in Adobe Photoshop, you know the function of a mask in a DVD menu button. The mask defines the area through which your button's asset will be visible in the menu.

So what if, then, you could animate this mask? You could then use the mask to fade the button in, to jitter the image, to scroll the video across the menu, etc. And this is what makes motion button masks useful. Rather than having to pre-compose moving buttons in motion graphics application, you can simply allow the mask to do it for you, then just drop in any asset you want.

Creating the custom mask
In order to do this, you're going to need to create your own motion mask. It's a simple enough process that can be accomplished in any motion graphics program--any application whatsoever that can output to the QuickTime format.

For my example, I'll be working in Apple Motion. If you don't have a program like Motion or After Effects or Combustion handy, you could always use a program like Adobe ImageReady or Macromedia Fireworks to generate simple transitions--barn doors, dissolves, fades, etc.

When you create the motion mask, you want to start with a black background. (The portions of your mask that are black hide the asset in your button.) Then you'll transition in to white. Something like this can be quite simple--a matter of keyframing a white layer's opacity or position over time. At the end, you'll want the mask to fade back out to black, assuming you want your button to fade out when the menu reaches the end of its duration.

What sort of transition effect you create is, of course, up to you. If you don't feel like creating your own at the moment, here are some of mine that you can download and use in order to follow along with this tutorial. (Or just click the play button on each one to see how mine will work.) I've created mine at 160 x 120 pixels with a duration of 10 seconds each. You can make yours larger or smaller, depending on your needs.

If you've created your own mask files, simply export them as QuickTime movies, preferably at high quality so that you don't get any artifacts in the file that could cause problems with the mask in your menu.

Creating the button with the custom mask
So now you either have your own motion mask, or you've downloaded one of mine. You have everything you need now to create a custom patch shape. It's just a matter of putting things together. Rather than creating a custom patch completely from scratch, which would take hours, if not days, given the tools you likely have available, we're going to create our new button by modifying an existing one. We won't be replacing the old one; we'll simply be duplicating one and putting our own elements into it.

1. Begin by quitting DVD Studio Pro. Then navigate to /Library/Applications Support/DVD Studio Pro/Apple/Patches. Here you'll see a bunch of folders representing all of the available patches for DVD Studio Pro.

2. Select the one called "RectGradientRevealLeftNTSC.pox" (or the PAL version, if you plan to use this custom button on a PAL DVD). When you've selected it, duplicate it using File > Duplicate or Command-D. Select the duplicate version (the one with the word "copy" at the end of the file name), and move it up into the Patches directory inside the DVD Studio Pro folder, as seen below.

This secondary Patches folder will help keep your custom patches separate from the patches supplied with DVD Studio Pro. Any patches kept in this secondary directory will appear at the end of the list of available patches in DVD Studio Pro, as you'll see later.

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Related Keywords:dvd studio pro, custom patches, motion masks, buttons, meu design

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