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Part IV: New and Improved Features
Part IV: New and Improved Features
DTS Audio • Improved Integration with Adobe Photoshop • Jacket Picture Creation
New DVD Recordable Formats • Importation of iDVD4 Projects • Improved Editing Capabilitie

By Alex Alexzander
http://www.osxworld.com

Introduction

We have talked about Transitions, Alpha Transitions, and of course the Graphical View. Now it is time to go over the less known but very welcomed new enhancements behind those incredible new features.

These new features include the ability to modify Photoshop-based assets in the menu without requiring us to unload and reload DVD Studio Pro to see the results. Instead, we have instant access to our modified Photoshop assets. You can now add a layer, change or remove a layer, and so on and see the results reflected directly in DVD Studio Pro the instant you save your Photoshop modifications.

DVD Studio Pro 3 also supports more recordable formats, DTS audio, Jacket picture creation, and other more subtle editing enhancements.

Please join me for a brief overview of these new features:

DTS Audio Support

DVD Studio Pro 3 adds support for Digital Theatre Systems single channel through 5.1 channel surround sound, also known simply as DTS. This is similar to the way DVD Studio Pro supports AC-3 with the exception that the encoder is not included as it is for AC-3 with the addition of A.PACK. As a result, you'll need to introduce a third-party encoder into your workflow to add this sound format to your DVD project.

One such encoder is the SurCode DVD-DTS encoder (SurCode DVD-DTS Encoder from Minnetonka Software). This encoder runs on the Microsoft Windows platform and as such may require some extra work from anyone using a Macintosh since the encoder requires mono .wav formatted files as its source material for encoding to DTS.

The workflow is similar to what you are used to with A.PACK; however, rather than starting with AIFF as your uncompressed audio standard, you will need to start with the .WAV format, which is the uncompressed audio format common to Windows. For Final Cut Pro 4 users you may wish to open your exported .AIF audio with Peak 3.3, and then export as dual mono .WAV format as a starting point for bringing your audio into the SurCode DTS-DVD encoder.

Encoding

The graphic above is a screen shot of the encoder. As with A.PACK you can see we start with the ability to encode varying separate uncompressed channels into a single DTS encoded file suitable for importation into DVD Studio Pro 3. This differs from A.PACK in that the channels must be in mono before the encoder will accept them.

DTS Formats

Saving DTS files also differs from what you know of saving AC3 formatted files. Unlike A.PACK's .AC3 format, there is not one single file type created with the DTS encoder. Once you are ready to encode, you have the option of saving to three varying types of DTS.

  1. DTS Padded (.dts)
  2. DTS Compact (.cpt)
  3. DTS WAV (.wav)

The .CPT file format, also known as Compact DTS, is the preferred DTS file type as it does not pad buffers with zeros until they are full. Import a .CPT based DTS audio asset and reveal its properties through the property inspector. Note the graphic above showing the recognized formats. The white arrows show two samples of DTS audio. Both are 5.1 encoded. I call the one on top "sample_cpt_1536.cpt". Likewise the one on the bottom is called, "sample_cpt_768.cpt". This use of 1536 and 768 is because this is the bit rate at which each has been encoded. 1536 represents my 1.536Mb/sec encoded DTS file while the 768 is my 768k/sec encoded sample. The 768k is obviously meant to save space and reduce the overall bit rate consumption of this sample project.

The .DTS file type is a padded file type, and will not import with Apple's import function. The .WAV file format is used ordinarily for monitoring purposes and not for authoring. Importing the .WAV file will be seen by DVD Studio Pro as an ordinary PCM formatted audio asset.

If you are not sure if your file is properly recognized, you can click on the imported audio asset in the Asset tab and refer to its property inspector. When we check the property of the .WAV file format, we see it is viewed as 2-channel wave audio: however, the .CPT file format is properly seen as DTS Audio, with all of its channels properly indicated and reproduced by DVD Studio Pro 3.

Previewing AC-3 / DTS

There are several ways to preview your DTS audio:

  • Using the SurCode DVD-DTS encoder software.
  • Using your hardware DVD set-top player with capable DTS decoder.
  • Using the Apple Software DVD Player with optional DTS decoder.

Previewing DTS - SurCode DVD-DTS Encoder

Let's start with the most obvious, which is to simply use the encoder itself the same way you would with A.PACK for AC3. To do this you will need to use the options pull-down menu to set the default device options.

Here you will select the hardware or output that connects a DTS decoder to your hardware as the playback device. Once this is completed, you are ready to preview DTS encoded audio. SurCode allows you to preview using the source uncompressed .WAV channels you have imported in the encoder screen, or select destination to listen to any DTS encoded file you have just encoded.

While in preview, you can use the mute and solo to selectively listen to certain channels as needed.

Previewing DTS - Using Apple's DVD Software Player

The Apple DVD Player software alone cannot output DTS audio without a DTS decoder. According to the Apple manual, you have a few choices:

  1. Attach a decoder to your Power Macintosh G5's digital audio port.
  2. Use an external USB based decoder.
  3. Use an external FireWire based decoder.

In my own test, I was not able to hear any DTS audio tracks through the software DVD player when connected to my DTS decoder. I was not able to test any USB or FireWire based solutions for the software DVD player.

If you would like to test your own DTS decoder, you will need to configure the Apple DVD player software through preferences to route the audio to the decoder using the Audio section of the Player preferences shown below.

Previewing DTS - Using a DTS Capable DVD Player and DTS Decoder

If you already have a DTS DVD player and a DTS decoding sound system, you may simply burn a DVD-R disc and sample the audio on your home DTS sound system. This method worked very well for me. Using a simple Toshiba DTS DVD player with an optical output going into my Sony DTS decoder, the decoder instantly recognized the DTS audio encoding on the DVD-R disc and played the 5.1 encoded DVD perfectly.

Note the graphic above. What you see here is the Video Title Set of my burned DVD-R using the .CPT DTS file format. Note that the red outline shows that DTS is the audio type, and that all 6 channels are properly set.

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Improved Integration with Adobe Photoshop

Another new feature inside DVD Studio Pro 3 is its improved integration with Adobe Photoshop. If you have used DVD Studio Pro in the past, then you know that once you brought in an asset, that was it. If that asset required a modification of any kind, often you were required to restart DVD Studio Pro in order to see any changes you had made with assets already in use by DVD Studio Pro.

Those days are now behind you as DVD Studio Pro 3 allows you to edit any in-use Adobe Photoshop asset directly in Photoshop. The results of that edit will be updated immediately, and reflected for your view inside DVD Studio Pro 3 the moment you save that edited asset inside Adobe Photoshop.

Here I have a chapter menu inside DVD Studio Pro 3. This chapter menu is a series of layers created using Adobe Photoshop CS. For you DVD Studio Pro 1.x users, PSD layers can be used in still menus to compose a background inside DVD Studio Pro 2.x and 3.x. In this particular menu, I have drawn eight white boxes and defined them into two rows of four. Inside each of these boxes I had intended to add eight drop zones where I would drop eight assets used to link eight story assets for my chapter menu.

I am using an Adobe Photoshop layered document to give me added functionality for the background artwork of this menu. The background is separate from the grid of white boxes, which will become my eight drop zones. This way, I am free to make changes to the grid much more easily without affecting the background artwork at all.

The graphic above is the current property inspector of my chapter menu. Here you can see that I have three layers set as the background of the chapter menu property. The top layer, which is marked overlay, has been turned off from view. That layer is used to create an overlay for my button highlights. We will not need to talk about that layer to illustrate this new feature.

The last two layers however are where we are focused. The middle layer, called Grid, is my eight white boxes. It is a separate layer from the layer called Background. So just keep it in mind that we have three layers here, because we are going to add to these layers without ever unloading DVD Studio Pro. We will see instantly the effect the changes inside Photoshop have on our chapter menu inside DVD Studio Pro.

  1. overlay
  2. grid
  3. background

As mentioned before, this chapter menu has eight boxes; however, I will only need four of them. I will use the new "Open With" integration feature to live edit this layer and remove the bottom row of four white boxes. Before I do, however, I want to make a duplicate of that layer and hide it from view in case I change my mind later and want it back.

In order to edit this asset while it is in use in DVD Studio Pro 3, all I need to do is go into DVD Studio Pro's Asset tab and select the layered background asset. I will right-mouse click or control-click on that asset to produce a floating options menu. I will select the function, "Open With...". This opens my Applications folder, prompting me to choose an application to open this background asset with. I choose Adobe Photoshop CS.

Once inside Adobe Photoshop you can see I have access to each of the three layers we saw inside the chapter menu property inspector. I am going to duplicate the layer called "Grid" using Adobe's layer tab. You can do this as well by right-mouse clicking or control-clicking on a layer in the layer tab and then select Duplicate from the floating options menu. This duplicate will serve as my backup of the original layer called "Grid" with all eight white boxes. I do this so that I am prepared if I change my mind in the future. Restoring all eight boxes is now as simple as turning on a layer in the chapter menu property inspector. Now I am able to edit the new duplicate layer to reduce the eight boxes to four.

Take a look at the results above. We have four layers now, not three. The duplicated grid layer, called Grid copy, is not set as a visible layer in Adobe Photoshop. Looking at the modified graphic, we can also see I have erased the bottom row of boxes. Let's switch back to DVD Studio Pro 3 and see what changes have been made to the chapter menu.

Here we see the existing chapter menu is still loaded and in view; however, it has automatically changed to reflect the changes we just made in Adobe Photoshop. I did not reload DVD Studio Pro 3. The menu view shows the bottom row of boxes are gone, and looking at this chapter menu's property inspector reveals that there now exists four layers where only three existed before. Notice that the layers and their visibility settings have carried over from Photoshop into DVD Studio Pro 3. The bottom two layers are visible, while the new layer is not, exactly as it is in Adobe Photoshop.

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Jacket Picture Creation

Another new addition to our topic of new features is the added support for Jacket Pictures, used mostly by multi-disc DVD players to give a visual representation of any DVD currently loaded. This is a somewhat rare feature in single disc DVD players. The idea here is, when you press stop, the jacket picture is loaded rather than the DVD default background if that player supports this feature. This is often a difficult-to-include feature, now made incredibly easy with this update.

If you would like to add support for Jacket Pictures, simply import an image you would like as the Jacket Picture into the assets tab.

Next, open the Outline tab or the Graphical view tab and select the DVD asset itself.

In the Outline tab, select the DVD icon at the top to see the DVD property inspector.

In the new graphical view, simply click on the background of the graphical view just as well to gain access to the DVD property inspector.

Now select the property inspector for the DVD, then select the Advanced tab all the way on the right.

At the bottom of the Advanced tab, use the Jacket Picture pull-down menu to select any image in the assets bin as your jacket picture.

To test your jacket picture, simply simulate your DVD project with the simulator, and as it is in simulation, press STOP. You should see your jacket picture appear in the simulator window.

Once the DVD project has been built, a new folder is added beyond the normal VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders you are used to. This folder is called JACKET_P. JACKET_P simply holds each of three assets used in varying situations where jacket pictures are supported.

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New DVD Recordable Formats

Since the release of the Apple branded SuperDrive, Apple has always supported the DVD-R DVD format. There is a competing format called DVD+R, which first appeared on the WinTel PCs. For some time, we also have had two kinds of general media types available in the stores: DVD-R and DVD+R. To add to the confusion, many DVD burners are now DVD-R, -RW, +R, and +RW compatible. This has caused tremendous confusion as many DVD Studio Pro customers use drive types other than the built-in Apple branded SuperDrive.

As faster and more modern DVD burners reach the market, some DVD burners used inside Macintosh computers sold today, such as the Power Macintosh G5, use the Pioneer 106D, which is a DVD±RW drive, meaning the device itself supports -R, -RW, +R, and +RW.

New to DVD Studio Pro 3 is support for these so-called, DVD±RW DVD burners. If you have a Pioneer 106D, OSX 10.3.3, and DVD Studio Pro 3, you have all the support you need for either format.

If you are not sure if you meet the requirements for these formats, you can use a terminal command to see the various formats your device supports.

Terminal is found in the \Applications\Utilities folder. The following is a short instruction you can follow to see what write capabilities your DVD burner supports.

  1. Open Terminal
  2. At the command prompt type the following: drutil info
  3. Hit Return

Take note of the yellow arrow pointing to my DVD-Write capabilities in the graphic above. You can see that my Pioneer 106D DVD burner supports the +R format. It should be noted that many including myself find the +R formats to be less compatible with players that do not directly support consumer-burned DVDs. My own Toshiba SD-2800 for example refuses to play DVD+R discs burned with either DVD Studio Pro 3 on the Macintosh using the Pioneer 106D or Adobe Encore 1.01 on the PC using the Sony DRU-530A. The same player will play a burned DVD-R DVD from either the Pioneer or the Sony burner where the DVD-R is burned at the same speeds using the same projects. Test any player in which you intend to use recorded DVDs with both formats to find which competing standard is best for you. My own tests use the RiTek 4x DVD-R blank DVDs for -R type DVD burning, and I use TDK 4x +R for +R type DVDs with my burning applications.

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Importing iDVD4 Projects

Now, for the iDVD4 users who wish to upgrade to the latest version of DVD Studio Pro, you'll be happy to know you can take your projects with you, and even improve upon them. DVD Studio Pro 3 carries on the tradition of iDVD importation with support for iDVD4 projects. DVD Studio Pro 2 supports the importing of iDVD2 and 3 project files.

To import your iDVD project, make sure all your material in the iDVD project is linked through menus, then save the project and use the following quick list to import the project into DVD Studio Pro 3.

  1. Start DVD Studio Pro 3.
  2. Select File > Open.
  3. Select the iDVD project; name.dvdproj file.
  4. Select Open.

This begins the iDVD import process.

The graphic above shows a project using one of my favorite themes from iDVD, brought into DVD Studio Pro 3 complete with transition intact, and the intro to the animation to the main menu. Here I noticed that Apple used a track asset for the animated intro of the main menu. Once you become more familiar with DVD Studio Pro 3, you could alter this from using a track asset to using a menu asset instead. This will lessen the pause that occurs after the transition from the intro animation.

Once you have finished importing your iDVD4 project you should click on any buttons and verify that your buttons are pointing to the proper track assets. Use the new simulator and fully test your project.

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Improved Editing Capabilities

DVD Studio Pro 3 adds a number of improvements to the authoring process. Along with the many new features comes integration in new ways as well as simpler additions that can save you a lot of time. Simple functions like Copy and Paste for example reduce the time it takes to complete the script writing process by allowing us to quickly paste over and over repetitive lines of codes rather than fully re-writing them using the graphical code input system. Let's look at how to use Copy and Paste to improve our authoring speed.

Copy and Paste Enhancements

Copy and Paste has been added to several sections using the standard Command-C and Command-V for Copy and Paste, respectively. We will go over copy and paste with the script editor, buttons and drop zones, and the subtitle editor.

Script Editor

Highlight any line of script, then copy using the standard Macintosh command, Command-C. Now paste that copied command with Command-P. The line is automatically pasted to the next location after any highlighted item.

This can be used as an insert tool just as easily.

To insert a single or several lines of script in between existing script, simply highlight the script line where you would like the inserted code line or lines to follow and then paste. The pasted lines of script insert themselves between the current highlighted line and those that follow.

The graphic above shows a script with many repetitive lines. In this example, just copy line 4, and then paste repeatedly as needed, after which, simply make simple edits to the pasted lines of script to achieve exactly the code you are after much more quickly then fully entering each line one at a time manually.

Buttons, Drop Zones, and Text Objects

You can use this same technique to copy buttons, drop zones, and text objects from one menu to another. Select the item you want, then copy, and paste into the same menu or another menu.

Subtitles

Copy and Paste functionality has also made its way into our subtitles functions. Below I have the OS X standard text editor open. I have created three lines of text with the Tempo font in heavy condensed, 24-point size. Not the best choice of fonts for a subtitle, but let's show off this new feature.

Here I have copied the text from the text editor using the keyboard command of command-c for copy. The font type, and size, and position, in this case, centered text, are all coming with me now when I paste this into the subtitle editor.

In my subtitle stream S1, I have double-clicked to add a subtitle entry point. This gives me the blinking cursor in the subtitle editor which is visible in the track viewer window above the subtitle track timeline. I am going to paste my formatted text right into the subtitle editor. Using the standard command, command-p for the paste into function, I have pasted my text. Let's look below at the results now.

Here you can see I have my subtitle now entered. All the text formatting from the text editor has been retained and pasted into the subtitle editor with the paste function. Let's review: I had three lines of text using the Tempo font, size 24. The text remains centered because I used centered text in the text editor. Keep that in mind if you plan to use this technique to paste formatted text into your subtitle editor.

I may not want to bring in formatted text, so for that we have another option shown below.

When we would like to paste text into the subtitle editor without any formatting, we can use the text box in the property inspector of the subtitle itself. Simply paste the text into the subtitle property inspector text box rather than the subtitle editor track viewer. This way, you are simply adding text to the existing format already in place with the subtitle stream.

In addition to this feature, you can easily copy a subtitle stream from one stream to another. Click and hold the subtitle with the mouse, then use the keyboard command Option-Shift while dragging the subtitle block downward or upward. This produces the green plus sign you see above, letting you know you are making a copy, and not simply dragging the subtitle from one stream to the next.

Option-Shift means to use the same timecode location, while just using the option key alone allows you to position the subtitle block to the left or right of the original above or below it.

This feature is further enhanced by allowing this same interaction beyond just text. For example, if you have a defined a subtitle button over video, and you choose to copy that to the next stream, you also get that graphic, the button, and the assignments of that button.

Improved Editing with the Graphical View

The Graphical tab, already great on its own, also adds an improvement to the editing capabilities of DVD Studio Pro 3. Tiles can not only be moved within the graphical view, they can also be lifted from the graphical view and dragged into the Menu tab, for direct access to button linking.

Open a menu asset by double-clicking on its tile asset in the graphical view. If your monitor supports viewing both the graphic view and the menu preview at the same time, you will be able to take advantage of a great new feature. In the graphic above I have my chapter menu open. In the graphical view, I am going to click and hold my story tile. Holding the story tile for a second lifts the tile up, allowing me to drag it off the graphical view and over to the button outline of the first drop zone in the menu tab.

Hovering over the button outline prompts me with a short menu of options. Here I can choose Connect to Story, to assign the Button 1 target to Story 1 tile I am holding. This allows me to use the graphical view combined with the menu tab to set my button targets. Because we are working with the graphical view, I also see the link establish itself between the chapter menu tile to the story tile as a visual confirmation of the Connect to Story option I have taken.

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Conclusion

We have talked briefly about several new or improved features within this release of DVD Studio Pro 3. While many may feel this release not worthy of the full 3.0 title, and I'll leave that up to you, I feel that there are many time-saving features that really change the way we work. Someone once said to me that if the product changes the way I work, then it is worth a full point upgrade. Consider that you have built-in transitions now. If you were using an outside application to create these transitions, then that will change the way you work. Consider that you now have Alpha Transitions that interact with the source and destination of the two assets involved. Under normal circumstances you would be required to create these on your own, with a third-party application, and manage the multiple tracks that creating transitions creates.

DVD Studio Pro now directly supports the +R media format, an added option many have waited for. Support for DTS audio is another feature many have waited for. Copy and Paste has offered us additional functionality with the existing script interface, allowing us to much more quickly complete longer, repetitive scripts. All simple enough new features, but added together in single release, they combine into one big shock of an upgrade. Alpha Transitions alone is worth the price of admission, as is Copy and Paste in the script editor. Of course, for DVD Studio Pro 1.x users, the simulator provided in 2.x and 3.x alone will have you sending thank you cards to Apple. DVD Studio Pro also continues to show us the state of all the registers in the DVD simulator, which allows us to more easily create our scripting ideas. If you are existing 1.x users, you are in for the biggest shock. This is absolutely the best $199 you'll spend this year.

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©Copyright 2004 Alex Alexzander
All Rights Reserved

All artwork and screen shots are the property of Alex Alexzander
Box art in title courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc. ©Copyright 2004 Apple Computer, Inc.


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