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Questions Answered 2: Customizing iDVD Themes

Modifying or removing effects (like blur) By Dave Nagel
For our second installment of Questions Answered, we address an issue submitted by a reader in Los Angels about iDVD. Is it possible to remove (or modify) an effect in one of iDVD's themes?  For example, some theses blur portions of the menu. Maybe you don't want those portions blurred, or maybe you want them to blur more than they already do.

The short answer to this is yes. The long answer is that it's going to take a little bit of effort and a capacity for sifting through data in order to do it. Fortunately for this particular reader, we're about to  cover this specific one step by step.

The problem at hand relates to an iDVD 6 theme called "Reflection Black."

In this theme, when a moving drop zone passes behind the thing that looks like a frosted pane, it becomes blurred, as seen below.

But what if you want to remove the blur altogether, like this?

Or what if you want to blur it even more, like this?

Are those two things possible? Well, that's a silly question. I mean, come on. I just showed you screen shots illustrating the answer. Basically, if something exists in iDVD, it can also be removed or modified. You just need to know where to look.

iDVD effects
Effects don't exist as separate entities within an iDVD theme. The effects are already on your system. A particular theme in iDVD simply makes reference to one of the effects, says where the effect should appear and tells iDVD how much of the effect to apply. In the case of this blur effect, the theme tells iDVD to insert the effect at the coordinates of that frosted pane thingy and also tells iDVD how much blur to apply horizontally and vertically (x and y).

How does it do this?

Property list files
Through a simple piece of text known as a property list file. Now, you can modify a property list file (.plist) in any text editing application. Property lists look a lit like HTML, and go sort of like this:


Et cetera.

That makes them a bit difficult to navigate through in a text program, so what I like to use is a tool designed specifically for working with .plist documents. The one I use is PlistEdit Pro. This is a shareware application, and you can use it for free, assuming you can put up with a nag screen. You can download this program from the following link:


Apple also supplies a program called Property List Editor, which is part of the Developer Tools package, which you can freely install.

Whatever your tool of preference, you will need something to edit this file.

Finding the right .plist file
Now comes the task of locating the correct .plist file to modify the effect for your theme. This would be the most time-consuming portion of this task for you, except that I'm going to show you exactly where it is.

First, locate the theme that contains the effect you want to modify. In this case, the theme is at Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support.iDVD/Themes/iDVD 6/Reflection-Main.theme.

Right click (or Control click) on this file, and choose "Show Package Contents from the contextual menu.

A new window will pop up showing you the contents of the theme package. Individual elements of the theme are located at /Contents/Resources. In this case, we're looking for the element called ReflectionMainButtonBar.pox.

Clicking on that takes us further into the package, where you'll see a subdirectory called Contents. Click on this, and you'll see two items inside: a folder called Materials and a file called Patch.

Modifying the patch file
It's the Patch file that we need to modify. Open this up in your property list editing program (after quitting iDVD), and you'll be presented with this.

Now, if you're in PlistEdit Pro, you can simply do a search (Command-F) for the word "blur." The first hit will look like this.

Open up the Blur subchunk, and you'll see the parameters for adjust the blur itself.

If you're not using PlistEdit Pro and can't do a search like that, you can navigate there manually by going to Root > RootChunk > NamedSubChunks > Oxygene Patch > NamedSubChunks > PatchElements > NamedSubChunks > GroupHierarchy > NamedSubChunks > InstantialModuleList > IndexedSubChunks > 4 > NamedSubChunks > InstantialModuleHierarchy > NamedSubChunks > PluginData > NamedSubChunks > Blur.

(Now you know why I like PlistEdit Pro.)

Now, you can see that by default the blur is set to 11 in both X and Y. To get rid of the blur entirely, set both values to 0.

Or, if you just want to play around with the amount of blur, go ahead and plug in any numbers you want to see what happens. (Start with small increments.)

When you're all set, save the Patch file. Then relaunch iDVD to see the results.

Note 1: You need to quit and relaunch iDVD to see any changes you make.

Note 2: You must save the changes to the Patch file each time, or the changes will not take effect.

Note 3: Changes you make to this theme will affect all projects to which you apply this theme. You can restore this theme to its original state simply by going back into the Patch file and inserting 11 in both X and Y blur fields.

So that's all there is to it. Simple, huh?

Need a question answered about creative software? Need to know something about your computer? Drop Dave Nagel a line, and you might have your question answered on the pages of DMN with illustrations and a step by step guide to solving your problem. You can reach Dave at [email protected].

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Related Keywords:idvd, themes, templates, menus, modify, change, effects, blur, questions answered


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