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Reusing Menus in DVD Studio Pro

Three tips for saving the hassle of rebuilding menus By Dave Nagel
Tutorial at a Glance
Application: Apple DVD Studio Pro
Category: Design and workflow
Difficulty: Easy
Summary: You can reuse menus you create in DVD Studio Pro by duplicating them (for reuse within a single project), saving item descriptions (for reuse on a separate project) or storing the menu as a template (for reuse on multiple projects across multiple machines, if desired).

The time you spend designing menus in DVD Studio Pro doesn't have to be wasted. Complete menu designs--including graphics and assets--can be reused over and over, within the same project, between different projects and even across multiple computers. In this tutorial, we'll look at three methods for reusing your menus.

Templates: reusing menus across multiple projects and systems
The first and most obvious method for reusing menus is simply to save them as templates. Depending on the intended purpose of the template, you can save it for a single project or for multiple projects. You can even create templates that can be shared across multiple systems.

Saving menus as templates will allow you to retain all of the non-dynamic content of that menu: background graphics, text and assets within your buttons. You will not retain the links in the buttons to particular tracks. Those you'll have to recreate whenever you reuse this particular menu, but that's simple enough given the amount of time you can save on design by storing menus as templates for reuse. And, of course, once you apply a template to a particular menu, you can easily customize it to suit your needs for later projects. You can replace specific assets, change text, change button sizes and shapes, etc.

Here's how it works.

Step 1: Create the menu. First, design your base menu. Place all of the elements into it that you see fit to use--buttons, graphics, text, etc. Remember, all of this can be changed when you use this design in a future project, so don't worry about making it too universal.

Step 2: Save the menu as a template. Now that the menu is designed, we'll save it as a template. To do this, have the menu selected in the Outline tab, and then go up to the Palette palette (the palette called, simply, "Palette"), and click on the Templates tab. At the bottom of this palette, you'll see three buttons. Click the "Create" button to save your menu as a template.

A new dialog will be displayed, asking you to name the template. Call it whatever you want. There are also two checkboxes. The first lets you save this template on a per-project basis. This means that if you click this button, this template will be available to you only for this one project. Generally you don't want to check that box. The second box is labeled "Self-Contained." Check this box if you intend to reuse this menu on multiple systems. It will store all assets and other information within the template's package file, so you won't have to hunt around later for the individual elements that were used in the creation of the menu.

So click the Save button when you're ready.

Step 3: reusing the menu. Now that you've saved your template, you can begin reusing it. To test it out, create a new, blank menu in your current project. Then click on the Custom button in the Templates tab in the Palette palette. There you'll see your template. Select it, and hit apply to apply it to your new menu.

Note that if you apply a template to a menu that already has buttons on it, not all of the buttons from the template will be applied to that menu. You can test this out by simply creating a new menu, drawing a couple blank buttons onto it and then applying your template. You'll see what I mean.

Step 4: sharing the template. One of the great benefits of using the template method for reusing menus is that the menus you design can be shared across multiple systems. And this is a simple enough process.

In order to do this, you simply need to locate the self-contained template file on your hard drive. This you'll find at [Macintosh HD]/Library/Application Support/DVD Studio Pro/Templates. And within that folder you'll find all of your custom templates--three in my case, including the one I created for this tutorial, which is called "Dave1.dsptemplate."

To share this template on other systems, just copy it over to the other systems over a network or via CD (or whatever other method you'd care to use) and place it in the same location on those systems. If you're unable to access the Application Support folder on other systems, you can also just copy the template file onto the Desktop and import them manually. To import a template, right-click inside the custom templates tab in the Palette palette, and choose "Import" from the list of available options.

Item descriptions: reusing menus on a single system
There is one drawback to using self-contained templates: They can be enormous in terms of file size. So there's an alternative, but one that can really only be used on a single system because it won't pack away all of the individual graphic elements and video elements for you. The method involves exporting an item description for your menu.

Step 1: exporting the item description. To do this, select the menu, once again, in the Outline tab. Then choose File > Export > Item Description. In the dialog that pops up, name the menu, and uncheck the "Hide Extension" button. Make sure the extension is ".dspMenu." Each element in DVD Studio Pro has its own extension when it's being exported like this, so you want to make sure you're actually exporting the item description for the right item.

It doesn't matter where you save the item description.

Saving this file creates a nice, compact (50 KB or so) file that won't waste precious space on your hard drive.

Step 2: importing the item description. Once you've exported the item description, you can re-import it into your current project or any future project on the same system. You just need to make sure to keep all assets available for use because the item description file itself relies on these external elements: graphics, video used in buttons, etc.

To import the item description and use it in your current project, you do not need to create a blank menu first. When you import this item description, a new menu will be created for you, even if you currently have a blank menu selected in the Outline tab.

So, to create a new menu from a previously exported item description, just choose File > Import . Item Description. Then select the item description file you exported earlier.

Duplicating menus
Finally, we come to the simplest method of all. This one is really a no-brainer, and I include it here simply because it falls into the general theme of this tutorial, and it's something you might not be aware of. This is the process of duplicating a menu within an existing project. Using this method, you don't have to export or import anything. You just go to the outline tab and right-click (or Control-click) on whatever item you wish to duplicate (menu or otherwise). Then, from the list of available options, choose "Duplicate."

You can also select the item and then hit Command-D or choose Edit > Duplicate.

It's that simple.

If you'd like to read any of our previous tutorials on DVD Studio Pro, you'll find them at the links below.

DVD Studio Pro Scripting, Series 1
DVD Studio Pro Scripting, Series 2
Other scripting articles
General design and authoring topics

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Related Keywords:dvd studio pro, menus, templates, sharing, saving menus, reusing menus


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