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Hidden Tricks in iDVD 5, Part 3

Setting your buttons in motion By Dave Nagel
In the third installment of our "Hidden Tricks" series for iDVD 5, we get to some truly exciting stuff. In parts 1 and 2, we looked at methods for creating custom buttons--custom sizes, shapes, masks, etc.--as well as a way to extend iDVD's button menu to accommodate the new content. This time around though we're going to take things to a new level with a hidden technique that allows you to put your buttons and masks in motion. That's right, custom motion buttons in iDVD!

As far as I know, this technique has never been demonstrated before, but it does have some things in common with basic custom button creation. In order to accomplish it, you will need some knowledge of this basic process, as I won't be repeating myself here. So, if you haven't done so already, you'd do well to go back and read the previous installments in this series, which will provide you with a starting point. You can find these articles by clicking on the following links.
As with those tutorials, you will need to have Property List Editor installed on your system to accomplish this technique. This program is free and is most likely already installed on your hard drive at Macintosh HD/Developer/Applications/Utilities/Property List Editor. If it's not there, you'll need to install it. Fortunately, the installer is located on your hard drive already, so there's nothing new to download. The installer is at Macintosh HD/Applications/Installers/Developer Tools/Developer.mpkg. Double-click the Developer.mpkg item, and follow the onscreen instructions for installing the software.

Because we're working with motion files, you'll also need an application for creating these files. Any motion graphics package will do, such as Adobe After Effects or Apple Motion. Basically you can use any program that's capable of outputting QuickTime movies.

Here's an example of a button that we can use in iDVD 5 with this technique. You're not limited to any particular look, and you can create any number of these custom motion buttons to change things from project to project. (Click the Play button to watch.)

For this process, you will need to create two motion elements--a mask and a shape--then put them together by modifying iDVD's preferences using Property List Editor. (Note that the highlights will be still images and should be created in the same manner explained in part 1 of this tutorial series.)

Elements of a motion button: the shape file
The simplest of the elements in this project will be the shape file. This is, simply, the visible portion of your button, independent from whatever asset will be seen inside the button. (The surfer in the example above is the asset.) This is typically some sort of frame, though it can be anything at all--or nothing at all, for that matter. You don't have to have a frame at all for your button, relying instead on the button's mask to reveal the button's asset.

But, in the event that you do want to use a frame, here's how it works.

Start by creating a motion element in the program of your choice. I've done this using both Apple Motion and Adobe After Effects. For this example, I'll use one of Motion's particle effects to create revolving rings of color, as in the following example.

There are two considerations here. The first is that that the background must be transparent. The transparent areas of the button will be where the asset and menu background show through. The second is that You should create a motion graphic with a duration no longer than the duration of the other video elements in your menu, or, of course, you might wind up with buttons that are out of synch with the background video for the menu or out of sync with the mask you use for the button, which we'll get to below.

Export the final movie to a QuickTime codec that supports alpha channels. In the export settings, choose the "Millions of Colors+" depth option. (The safest way to go with this is to use the "None" compressor.

And that's it.

Note: If you choose to create a button that uses no framing shape element, you still need to create a blank file (full transparency) so that iDVD will have something to find when it's looking for the shape file. To do this, simply create your composition with no graphical elements, and export it with the alpha channel.

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Related Keywords:apple idvd 5, motion buttons, motion masks, button transitions, moving buttons

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