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Customizing iDVD 3, Part 5

Expanding the duration of motion menus By Dave Nagel
Though Apple's iDVD 4 is already available, it's unlikely that most of you have updated at this point. So I thought I'd share one final technique for customizing your projects before we move our series into the latest release. Specifically, we're going to look at how you can achieve the ever-elusive goal of breaking the 30-second barrier on motion menus. Not a bad finale for our 3.0 series, eh?

In iDVD 3, you're limited by default to 30 seconds for the upper limit of your menus, which is a fairly arbitrary duration and one that likely won't suit the needs of the videographers, presentation professionals and post houses that use iDVD 3 for their various purposes. So we'll look at a fairly simple method for fixing that problem. But before we get started, if you haven't done so already, you might want to go back and look at the previous four tutorials in this series, which all address undocumented methods for manipulating iDVD's parameters.

Reading these will also help you get used to the idea of breaking into packages in Mac OS X and looking for the right settings files so that you might be able to explore your own ideas for customization.

Motion duration in iDVD
For those of you who may not be particularly familiar with the DVD medium, duration refers the the length of time that a particular menu in your DVD plays before repeating itself. In many DVD authoring applications, the duration of any given menu is limited only by the space available on a DVD disc. However, in iDVD, the duration of menus is limited to a range of zero to 30 seconds, most likely for the reason that iDVD uses a simplified MPEG encoder that's limited in the range of encoding options. Lengthy menus, therefore, reduce the amount of space available on the disc for your video and audio tracks.

To set the duration of a motion menu in iDVD, launch the program, select a theme and click on the "Customize" button, located on the bottom left of the main window.

From there, you'll see a panel slide open on the left of your interface containing a row of buttons for accessing various options. Click on the "Settings" button."

Once you've selected this, you'll see a slider directly below the row of buttons labeled "Motion Duration."

Adjusting this slider changes the duration of your entire DVD menu--all of the elements on that menu. So if, for example, you have a background movie that's two minutes in length, adjusting the slider to its maximum of 30 seconds will cut the movie off at the 30-second mark and force it to loop back to the beginning. If you have a background movie that's 20 seconds long and set the duration of the menu to 30 seconds, the movie will play through once, loop and play through 10 seconds the second time around, then loop back to the starting point. Motion in your individual buttons is affected exactly the same way. And the same goes for background audio. Understanding this, you're ready to move to to create your own custom durations.

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