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Button Tricks in DVD Studio Pro 4

Part 1: Rotating assets with custom patches By Dave Nagel
If you've been reading any of our recent tutorials, you know it's possible not only to modify custom patches in DVD Studio Pro, but also to create your own, complete with custom motion masks and moving shapes. Now we begin a new series to take the creation/modification of custom patches to the next level, looking at compositing tricks and special effects that you can add to DVD Studio Pro 4's menu buttons. 

Now, there are two ways to add special effects or otherwise trick out your buttons in DVD Studio Pro 4. The more simple in the short term is simply to open up an asset in your favorite motion graphics package and add any special effects to that asset right there. Then you just render it our and use that as your button asset. This, however, isn't always practical. It's simple if you happen to be working on a single project with few assets. But what if you work with templates to produce multiple projects using the same basic layout? You don't want to have to render special effects for every single asset you use. There's another way--one that requires a bit of work up front, but that can save you vast amounts of time in the long run. And this method is simply to add the special effects or other compositing effect (rotation, color channel manipulation, transparency manipulation, etc.) directly to your custom patches. In this way, you never have to do anything to the assets themselves; the special effects contained within the patches themselves will take care of all of that for you.

With this method, you can incorporate special effects to existing custom patches (those supplied by Apple) or to custom patches that you've created yourself. To get you started, we'll begin with one of the more straightforward compositing tricks available for custom patches: rotating assets.

Before we get started, if you haven't done so already, you'd likely benefit by going back and reading our previous series of articles dealing with the creation of custom patches. You'll find them at the links below.

Part 1: Custom Motion Masks
Part 2: Custom Highlights
Part 3: Custom Moving Shapes

Links to other tutorials on DVD Studio Pro can be found at the end of this article.

By way of preparation, you will need one of two programs available for modifying "property list" files. These property list files (or .plist) contain parameters and settings that a program uses to determine the behavior of various properties in an application. For our purposes here, these .plist files contain information that affects how a button looks in a menu in DVD Studio Pro whenever you use a particular custom patch.

In order to access these parameters to make changes to them, you'll need to open the .plist files in either Property List Editor or PlistEdit Pro. (There are many other applications out there that can do this as well, but I can't vouch for them.) Property List Editor is supplied by Apple itself and is a part of the Developer Tools software you may already have on your computer. If you do have it, it's located at the root of your hard drive in a folder called "Developer." If you don't have it or would rather use a more full-featured editing program, you can download a shareware program called PlistEdit Pro from http://homepage.mac.com/bwebster/plisteditpro.html. That's the one I use for the simple reason that it's more advanced than Property List Editor and has search functionality, so you won't always have to hunt for specific parameters manually.

Locating and opening the .plist file
For this exercise, we'll be modifying the properties of an existing custom patch--either one supplied by Apple or one you've created yourself. If you are working with an Apple-supplied patch, you will want to duplicate the patch and move it to a separate directory so that you'll always have the original patch available in the event that you accidentally mess up the patch while you're modifying it.

To duplicate one of the Apple-supplied patches, go to [Hard Drive]/Library/Application Support/DVD Studio Pro/Apple/Patches. Locate the patch you wish to copy, then right-click and and select "Duplicate" from the contextual menu that pops up. In this case, I'll be working with a patch called RectMedWindowDesaturate.pox.

Once you've duplicated the .pox folder, move the duplicate version into the Patches folder inside [Hard Drive]/Library/Application Support/DVD Studio Pro/. (This is not the same as the folder inside the Apple folder. Custom patches need to be stored in this other Patches folder.) And give the duplicated patch a new name. I'll call mine "Nagel13.pox." Make sure the ".pox" extension appears at the end of the folder's name without the word "copy."

Once you've renamed the folder, you're going to navigate inside it to [PatchName.pox]/Contents/. Here you'll find a file called "Patch," which is cleverly disguised as a Unix executable file. But it's not. It's actually a property list file.

To open it, right-click on the file, and choose Open With > PlistEdit Pro from the contextual menu (or whatever other application you want to open it with).

Modifying the Patch file to rotate your asset
So now you have the Patch file open, You should be faced with something like this.

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Related Keywords:apple dvd studio pro, buttons, patches, custom patches, rotate, asset rotation

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