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Avid Xpress Studio, DVD Basics in Avid Xpress Studio

COW Library : Avid Media Composer Tutorials : Alex Alexzander : Avid Xpress Studio, DVD Basics in Avid Xpress Studio
CreativeCOW presents Avid Xpress Studio, DVD Basics in Avid Xpress Studio -- AVID Tutorial


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The goal of this project by Alex Alexzander is to provide a very simple overview which describes how to go from the Avid Xpress Pro timeline to finished DVD using tools available in Avid Xpress Studio and Adobe's Photoshop.




Requirements:

  • Avid Xpress Studio*
  • Adobe Photoshop

*Avid Xpress Studio is an integrated package of applications which contain Avid Xpress Pro, Avid DVD by Sonic, Avid 3D, Avid FX, and the Sorenson Squeeze Suite for compression.

Sections:

Project Overview:

The goal of this project is to provide a very simple overview which describes how to go from the Avid Xpress Pro timeline to finished DVD using tools available in Avid Xpress Studio and Adobe's Photoshop.

I'll begin by preparing a timeline in Avid Xpress Pro with chapter markers and reference frames using Avid's MetaSync feature. Once I have my chapters and reference frames completed, I'll compress my timeline into MPEG video (.mpv) and WAVE audio (.wav) using Sorenson Squeeze for DVD. I'll then cover the basics of creating a simple menu system for DVD navigation using Adobe's Photoshop application. This will provide you with the basic assets you need to start using Avid DVD by Sonic. I'll bring my new assets into Avid DVD and create a basic DVD. I'll import chapter markers using the MetaSync exported XML document I will create with Avid Xpress Pro. Lastly, I'll cover transcoding my WAVE (.wav) audio into Dolby Digital (.ac3) to further reduce size and bit rate for my DVD project.

Preparing Footage with Avid Xpress Pro:

I'm going to assume you already have a timeline and footage you would like to turn into a simple DVD. You can follow along with your own timeline to gain a better understanding of these functions. Now before I export to MPEG video, I'm going to add chapter markers to my footage using Avid's Metasync feature.

I'll start this process in my timeline by adding a Meta track to the existing timeline. This new Meta track will contain my chapter and frame reference information for future use inside Avid DVD as a chapter button.

To add this new Meta track I'll start by right-mouse clicking above the current video track and selecting New Meta track from the menu of options.

This will add a new Meta track called M1 in the timeline just above the last Video track.

The goal of this Meta track is two-fold. I'll use it to designate the chapter boundaries for my future DVD as well as designate one video frame as a thumbnail button that will be used later in Avid DVD.

First, notice the three purple arrows in the graphic above. The one on the left points to the new Meta track I have created in the timeline. The other two arrows are my future location for my first chapter in and out points. Notice the white outline, as this describes exactly where my chapter will go. I also have a Photoshop-based title between tracks as shown in the V2 track, which will be used to announce each new chapter. Since this Photoshop title has a dip effect applied to both the beginning and the end, I'll set my chapter markers to the centers of each of these titles where there are solid opacities throughout my timeline. This way, when the user skips from chapter to chapter, they will see a full 100% opacity title. On the other hand, if the user watches the entire timeline, they see the dip effects of the titles introducing each new chapter.

I need to prepare to add my chapter markers now. To do this, I'll need to import the Avid_DVD_Producer.aeo into my bin.To do this, I right-mouse click on the bin, and select Import. I'll find the AEO file I'm looking for in the following path:

Program Files > Avid > Avid Xpress Pro > Avid AEOs.

This will result in two new files being added to my bin, "Chapter Mark" and "Chapter Button Reference Frame". With these two assets in my bin, I am ready to start defining chapters and creating my future chapter buttons for my chapter menu in my DVD project.

Defining Chapters:

I'll start by defining the chapters in my timeline. To do this I start by double-clicking the Chapter Mark item I have just added to the bin. This will load the enhancement into the source monitor of the Composer window.

Next I select the Mark In (the "I" key on the keyboard), while in the source monitor.

Now I'm ready to begin using the timeline to indicate my chapter boundaries. I Mark an In and Out point for the duration of my first chapter. As you can see from the image above, my first chapter starts at the beginning of the timeline and extends to the middle of the Photoshop title in the V2 track. I need to make sure only the M1 track is targeted as I overwrite the chapter mark onto the M1 Meta track. Now I repeat this for the rest of the timeline.

Take a look at the graphic above. Here is an example of my finished timeline. I have six chapters added.

Adding a Reference Frame Locator:

Next I'll add a Chapter Button Reference Frame to each chapter using the Chapter Button Reference Frame enhancement that was also added to the bin. This can be any frame of video in the chapter that I would like to be the thumbnail of my chapter button later in Avid DVD. I have six chapters in total in my timeline, and I wish to have six buttons in a chapter menu that will represent what each chapter in my timeline is about.

I begin by placing the timeline indicator over any frame I would like to become the thumbnail frame within the first chapter of the timeline. Next I'll hold down the ALT key and double-click on the Chapter Button Reference Frame icon in the bin. This will add a Chapter Button Reference Frame to the current frame in the chapter of the timeline as shown in the graphic above. Note the purple arrow is pointing to the white oval icon. This is my indicator that I have completed this task successfully.

As I repeat this for each of the chapter areas in the timeline, you'll notice in the graphic below that each chapter is also marked with the white oval icon, indicating a Chapter Button Reference Frame now exists in those chapters.

Encoding Our Timeline:

My timeline is completed, and I'm now ready to compress the entire sequence for DVD. I can either select the sequence in the bin, then choose the File menu or I can just right-mouse click on the sequence itself in the bin and then choose Send To > Avid Studio > Encoding for Avid DVD by SONIC.

Once I have done this, an export dialog box will open. Take a look about midway down where it says "Export Setting 1:". I'll use the selection pull-down menu to choose Sorenson Squeeze. An Export Setting 1 Summary will populate the box underneath, detailing the settings of export.

The Export MetaSync Tracks(s) as: selection should auto-select for you, but if not, make sure your export settings match the settings shown above. I'll choose a destination folder or create a new folder.

Once I am ready, I select OK.

Once my QuickTime reference files are generated for me, the Sorenson Squeeze application will open automatically with my sequence already loaded. All I need to do now is choose a compression type. I'm going to be using a pre-set for DVD authoring. Notice the graphic below has the DVD icon's option menu pulled down and I'm selecting DVD_NTSC_Large.

Select DVD_PAL_Large if appropriate for your DVD.

This will populate the "All Output Files" folder as shown below in the Sorenson Squeeze application's right side window. My default is 720 x 480, 29.97 fps, 6570 Kbps. If I double-click on the video icon in the right-side window, it will open the Compression Settings window, also shown below.

Within this window, I can adjust the data rate, also known as bit rate. There are a few other settings here as well, however since this is a basic DVD tutorial, so I won't go into all the settings now, except to mention a few important items you should be aware of.

The default data rate (bit rate) is set to 6570. This assumes about an hour of footage combined with PCM audio, which holds a Data Rate of 1536 Kilobits/Sec. I'm going to compress my audio later from the PCM audio created here to a much more compact Dolby Digital (.ac3) format which uses as little as 192 Kilobits/Sec.

Depending on how much footage you are using, you may need to adjust your own data rate. In this example here, I'm just going to make use of two simple menus and a very small amount of actual footage. Assuming the use of between 60 to 90 minutes of footage, all audio should be encoded to Dolby Digital. That combined with the bit rate of 6570 for video of equal length should fit well on a single 4.7GB DVD-R. However it's always a good idea to lower your bit rate enough to leave a little extra space.

The lower the bit rate we use, the more length of video we can have. Of course, this also sacrifices quality since the higher the bit rate, the better chance the encoder has to make a higher-quality encode. For example, if I wanted to compress 2 hours of footage on a single DVD-R, I should drop to a bit rate of 4.6 or a little lower.

It's a good idea to start learning to use a bit-rate calculator to help determine which bit rate is the appropriate rate for your own projects.

Another important item to take note of is the MPEG Video Options. I am using NTSC DV footage, so I might check to make sure my Field Encoding is set to Bottom Field First, sometimes referred to as Lower Field First.

I'm just going to take the defaults, which are perfect for my little sample DVD. I'll then go ahead and select the Squeeze It button on the lower right-hand side to begin the compression process. Once compression has finished, I'm left with a few files that I'd like to quickly go over now.

This is the folder I selected when I first chose the Send To option in Avid Xpress Pro. The top two files you see are two menu assets I'll discuss in a few minutes. Below those top two PSD-based menu assets, you’ll see a single .aaf document. This is my project sequence data. When I exported the sequence, this document was created to facilitate that process. I won't need that at all in this DVD project. The next two files under that are the reference video file, and a WAVE Audio File. WAVE audio files in this context are the PCM files I created in the export and encoding process. (PCM stands for Pulse Code Modulation.) It is a high-quality uncompressed audio format I can use as our source to compress to Dolby Digital later on. The video file is simply a reference file, which is why it is so small. The WAVE Audio File is the full size of the audio. These two assets are what are fed into the Sorenson Squeeze application. Below that, I have an XML file. This is the MetaSync-created file which contains my chapter markers and Chapter Button Reference Frame information. I'll be using this file with my Avid DVD timeline later on. Below that, I have the two stars of this DVD authoring project. The Sample DVD Project_DVD_NTSC_Large.mpv is of course my MPEG2 video file. It does not contain any audio. Below that, you can see the WAVE Audio File which I will add to the timeline in the video track in Avid DVD.

I'm using five assets in all to create this DVD: the two PSD-based menu files, which were created in Adobe Photoshop, and the three files on the bottom, which are the timeline video, audio, and the XML chapter and reference frame information file.

Building a Basic DVD with Avid DVD by Sonic:

I'll go ahead and launch Avid DVD by Sonic and begin.

I'm first asked whether this is an NTSC or PAL project. I'm going to be working in NTSC, so I'll choose NTSC here.

Once I have opened Avid DVD, I'll see just two open windows and a lot of empty space. The first task is going to be to import video and audio into the Palette window. I'm then going to transcode the WAV audio into Dolby Digital audio. Once I have that finished I'm going to delete the WAV audio file from the Palette window so that I'm left with the video and the new Dolby Digital audio file, which is also known as an AC3 file.

Importing Assets into the Palette Window:

Below I have the Palette window open. To begin importing any asset into this project, simply right-mouse click in an open area of the Palette window and select Add Files To Project. I will do this for all assets I wish to work with in this DVD project.

Once I have selected Add Files to Project, a browser window will open allowing me to locate any assets I wish to import. In the image below, you can see I have navigated to the assets I spoke of earlier and have found my .mpv and .wav files.

I'll select both video and audio at the same time, then select the Open button to import these assets into the Palette window.

Avid DVD will begin to import the assets. Depending on their size, this could take a short while. Once imported, the two assets are now represented in the Palette window. Now before I actually create a track asset with video and audio, I first want to transcode the high bit-rate WAV audio into a lower bit-rate Dolby Digital (.ac3) asset.

Transcoding WAV to Dolby Digital:

To transcode a WAV audio file into a Dolby Digital file I right-mouse click on the speaker icon in the Palette window, and select Convert to Dolby Digital. This helps to lower the overall bit rate used in our DVD, as well as save valuable space on the final DVD-R I'll build later on.

The Audio Transcoder application is launched and pre-populates my source and destination locations.

Using the Transcode settings, I'll select an Audio bit rate of 192 Kbps for a 2-Channel Dolby Digital output.

If you have spaces or the Start button is not solid and won't allow you to select it, change the name of the file, removing all spaces, and select a new location. The Start button should become solid and allow you to transcode your .wav audio file to .ac3 (Dolby Digital).

Once I have successfully transcoded WAV to Dolby Digital, I can delete the .wav file from the Palette window by right-mouse clicking on it, then selecting the Delete option.

Now I will import my .ac3 audio file into the Palette window so I can use it with my project.

I'm left with just two assets now. The video .mpv asset and the Dolby Digital .ac3 asset.

Next I'm going to build a timeline, add audio to it, and import the chapter markers I created earlier using the XML file created in Avid Xpress Pro.

Building the Timeline:

To build the timeline, I simply double-click on the video asset in the Palette window. This will have two effects on the application.

1. In the List window you now see a single asset appear for the first time. You'll notice that this asset also has a green triangle attached to it. This means this movie asset is the First Play asset. The asset designated as First Play is the asset that is first loaded when the DVD is inserted into a DVD player. I'm going to change this later on to a menu asset I'll import later. For now, just understand what the green triangle designates.


Click graphic to see larger image.

2. I create a timeline for this video asset. Note the two purple arrows. The one on the left points to two dash marks, which means I have not indicated the audio language. The purple arrow on the right side points to an empty audio track.

I need to populate the audio portion of the timeline for this video asset and then assign the audio language where you saw the two dashes as indicated by the left purple arrow.

To add the audio I simply drag the .ac3 audio icon from the Palette window into the empty area of the Audio track. It should match the video timeline in length. Now I click on the double dashes and set the audio language. Since I am in the United States, I will choose (en) English as my audio language. DVD player hardware will see this. Had I imported multiple languages, the language button on the remote would show us a list of the available language audio streams to choose from. If I have just one audio track, and I don't set the language code, the DVD will still function. For multi-audio stream DVDs, its best to set the language codes.

Importing Metadata:

Now notice that the timeline does not contain any of the chapters I created in Avid Xpress Pro. The chapter and reference frame information is stored in the XML document I showed earlier. I'm going to add those chapters to the DVD timeline now with the use of an Import Metadata feature.

To do this, I select the timeline, and then, using the pull-down menu bar at the top, I select Timelime > Import Metadata.

The Windows file browser opens and I select the .xml document I talked about earlier. Now I press the Open button, and I may receive the following warning box.

This is a GOP warning, and the reason for this is that the chapter markers I have created inside Avid Xpress Pro may not happen to land on an I-Frame with the MPEG2 compress files I have imported into the timeline here in Avid DVD. When I compressed the video footage, I chose the default I-frame frequency of 12 in the Sorenson Squeeze application. This created my MPEG2 file, which is a lot of tiny GOPs. GOP stands for Group Of Pictures, and it's basically a method of compression whereby only one of the frames in this GOP is a true full frame of information. The rest of the 11 frames in this GOP are predicted frames types that rely on the I-Frame.

Chapter markers can only be set to an I-Frame when working with a DVD. So when I created my chapter markers in Avid Xpress Pro, they were not exactly perfect for the future use of these GOPs. When I add those same chapter markers to this compressed MPEG2 file, the chapter markers are likely not to land directly on an I-Frame. If they do not happen to be on an I-Frame, this warning box lets me know that they have been moved to the nearest I-Frame. So if my chapter marker is three frames after the I-Frame in a GOP, it is moved three frames backwards so that it is now GOP aligned.


Click graphic above to see larger image.

You'll notice that my timeline now has all the chapters I created in Avid Xpress Pro.

Now, I also created Chapter Button Reference Frames in each chapter, which I'll talk about when I add the chapter menu to this DVD project. For now, I wanted to show you the chapters first because I think it will help you to better understand the menus I am about to show.

Understanding Basic Pixel Aspect Ratio:

Before I begin to talk about importing menus, you should understand the issue of pixel aspect ratios a little bit. Your NTSC television and the computer you are using to create menus don't use exactly the same pixel aspect ratio to display content. Your computer uses a square pixel, while the NTSC television uses a rectangular pixel. As an example of how this affects you, draw a perfect circle in Photoshop on a 720 x 480 1.0 pixel aspect ratio document and import that image into Avid Xpress Pro. Compare the image you imported with the source monitor or an NTSC monitor with the one on the computer in Adobe Photoshop.

Above is roughly what you would see. While the circle in the computer monitor looks perfectly round, the circle shown here in the Avid source monitor and your NTSC monitor would suffer from the differences of the rectangular pixel aspect ratio of the television vs. the square pixel aspect ratio of the computer. The Avid source monitor shows a compensated version to more accurately allow you to see what you would see on your NTSC monitor. The rectangular image appears to be stretched from top to bottom; however, the sides, left and right, are the same.

There is a way to compensate for this. This compensation is normally referred to as ".9 pixel aspect ratio".

What is .9 pixel aspect ratio?

To put it very basically, .9 pixel aspect ratio is less then a square pixel. It’s actually taking a little away from the graphic which causes it to collapse a little onto itself. If I take away some of the graphics information I would have less than the 480 resolution I need from top to bottom. Because I must have 480 and I want to take some away, I'll need to start with more than I need, and then compensate in such a way where my result gives me the 480 I need. This is part of what .9 is all about.

Multiply .9 by 534 and you get 480.6. Multiply .9 by 540 and you get 486. So in order to compensate for the difference between computer and NTSC, you need to start with a resolution of 720 x 534 for NTSC DV or 720 x 540 for full D1. You then crush the 534 or 540 to 480 or 486. That would give your perfect circle a squashed look on the computer screen. But once this squashed computer graphic is displayed on the NTSC monitor, it would again become stretched, only this time the amount of stretching would be exactly the amount you took away, and therefore the circle would look perfectly round once again.

Let's take a look at how to do this and then compare what it would really look like in a side by side, computer vs. NTSC monitor.

I use NTSC DV so I am going to start with 720 x 534. I draw a perfect circle in a Photoshop document that starts with 720 x 534. Once I have my perfect circle, I am going to re-size the image. First I remove the default Constrain Proportions check mark from the settings box, because I only want this to affect the height of the graphic, not the width and height when I re-size the document. By unchecking the Constrain Proportions, only the width or height changes when I take away resolution from either setting. I'll now change the height from 534 to 480. This will give the circle a squashed look.

The computer version now appears to be squashed from top to bottom, while this time, the Avid source monitor and your NTSC monitor have a perfect circular look.

I'm going to be talking a lot about menus now, and I want you to remember that as you work on your own menus, you'll always need to compensate for this stretching effect.

Preparing Menu Assets in Adobe Photoshop:

I'm going to use two simple menus. One will be a basic menu that will offer to play the entire track, while the other will be a button which leads to my chapter menu. The chapter menu will have six chapter options to play and a button that leads back to the main menu. Each chapter button will use the frame image selected in Avid Xpress with the Chapter Button Reference Frame enhancement. I already imported this information when I imported the metadata to gain access to the chapter markers.

I'm going to assume you already understand the basics of using Photoshop. What I'm going to outline here are some basic things you need to know in order to define how your own menu will need to work. Basic menus such as the two I am going to use have two basic layers that are defined in Adobe Photoshop. These two layers are the background layer and the overlay layer. While the Photoshop file can have any name, the two layers must contain the names "background" and "overlay" to properly designate their function.

Avid DVD Menu Layers:

When I talk about menus with any DVD authoring application, it is important to note that not all menus are created equally. I won't mention the various types of menus in this document. Instead I want to describe just one kind of menu. Once you have a foundation of this menu type, you'll have a foundation on which to learn about other types of menus you can use in your DVD projects.

The type of menu I will describe here is most often referred to as a Still Menu. This menu consists of three basic components:

1. The Background Layer
2. The Overlay Layer
3. The Highlights Layer

The top two items I have already created in Adobe Photoshop, while the third is actually a function of Avid DVD, so it is created after I import the menu into the Palette window. Again, I'm just going to go over this quickly. This will not be a lesson on how to create a menu with Photoshop. Instead I'm going to focus on the layers you need in your own menu.

This is my main menu. It has just two button options:

1. Play Title
2. Chapter Menu

It's a little difficult to see, but there is a black check mark in the white square box before the text of the button. This check box is going to be the item that the user sees when deciding which of these two options to choose from. It will be made to highlight and show which is the currently selected item in this menu. All the text and the graphics and everything else you see will all become a single layer called "background", while on those two black check marks will become a new layer called "overlay".

Let's look at the layers palette in Photoshop to better understand this point.

Take a look at these two layers palettes. The one on the left is what I started with in creating the main menu, and the one on the right is what it needed to become in order to function properly inside Avid DVD. What I have here are all the layers with the exception of the two check marks flattened into one single layer at the bottom, as shown on the right, called "background". The two check marks themselves have been flattened into a single layer called "overlay".

Another item to note is that the two check marks themselves are 100% black, and within that same layer, everything else is 100% white. This 2-bit layer is what constitutes an overlay layer. The black area will work with the future button highlights I will add, and the white area is white to designate that it is to be ignored. The white area will become fully transparent.

Let's have another look at this another way, to further illustrate this point. Here I have my two layers pulled apart just enough so that you can see how they work together. The background layer is all my graphics. The overlay layer is nothing but a pure white background and my two 100% black check marks.

I have also added two green boxes called "Button Highlights". This third element is not created inside Photoshop, but it does exist. I create this when I define buttons directly in Avid DVD.

The pure white area of the overlay informs Avid DVD to ignore and make transparent the 100% white area. Anything 100% white will become invisible. The two black check marks will become the areas that I use to create button highlights. The purpose here is that there needs to be a way to tell Avid DVD that these two check marks in this menu are to be the highlighted areas. This is accomplished with the use of color coding. The white area is ignored, and the black area is told to become the highlight. But how do I tell Avid DVD I have two buttons? After all, it is one overlay layer, so how do I make two buttons from this one single layer?

This is where Button Highlights become part of the DVD authoring process. I'm going to import this menu into Avid DVD and draw a bounding box around the first check mark. That bounding box means make a highlight with the shape defined in 100% black using only the area defined with this bounding box. I'll do this twice, once for each check box, and that gives me two complete independent highlight items. The bounding box itself also has a property, which I can use to set a target. Now the highlight becomes a button that can play or go to another asset such as a video track or another menu.

Importing Menus into Avid DVD:

To import a menu into Avid DVD, I simply right-mouse click on an open area of the Palette window and select Add Files to Project again.

Once I have my menu added to my Palette window, I can drag it to the Menus section of the List Window as shown above. I have set the green triangle to this menu asset now, thus this becomes the First Play asset of the DVD. You can do this by right-mouse clicking on any menu object in the List Window and then selecting Make First Play. Now when the DVD is first inserted, my menu is played rather than the track asset.

Notice the Palette window on the left side of the graphic above. I have highlighted the menu asset I have just added to the project. The name of the file plus its two layers are shown in a tree-type fashion. You can clearly see the two layers that make this menu what it is directly in the Palette window. The important lesson here is that the file name of the menu can be anything you like, but the background layer must be called "background" and the overlay layer must be called "overlay".

Button Highlights and Linking:

I'm going to be working with the Menu Editor window for a short time, so let's go over some of the basic functions this window provides.

Let's start with the icons you see at the very bottom of this window. Each has a function which is used to help us define the menu itself. I can add text to menus here, or replace the background or overlay layer here. I can create the button highlights here. There are even properties associated with the button highlights here that allow for the linking of the button highlight to another asset such as a track or another menu.

The Highlight Tool:

The Highlight Tool is used to draw the highlight area. That means creating buttons or defining the button highlight area. Button highlights have properties which are linked to other assets such as menus or tracks.

The Select Tool:

This is used to select any object created in the Menu Editor. This can be highlights, or text created with the Highlight tool or the Text tool.

The Text Tool:

This is used to add text to a still menu.

Background Target Icon:

The Background Target Icon is used to replace any background layer in a still menu. To do this, select the menu in the List Window. Now drag a background element from the Palette window on top of the Background Target Icon.

Overlay Target Icon:

The Overlay Target Icon is used to replace any overlay layer in a still menu. To do this, select the menu in the List Window. Now drag an overlay element from the Palette window on top of the Overlay Target Icon.

Show Background Layer:

Selecting this icon will show the Background layer of the still menu. You can un-select this as well to hide the Background layer.

Show Overlay Layer:

Selecting this icon will show the Overlay layer of the still menu. You can un-select this as well to hide the Overlay layer. In addition, you must also have one of the three following highlight states selected and set to a visible percentage. These visibility modes are the Button Highlight States of Normal, Selected, and Activated. If the Normal state for example is selected and currently set to 0% visibility, pressing the button will have no visible effect.

Show Highlight Layer:

Selecting this icon will show the Highlight layer of the still menu. You can un-select this as well to hide the Highlight layer. The Highlight layer is not a layer created in Photoshop. This is created using the Highlight Tool.

Defining Buttons in the Menu Editor:

Now that you understand the basic tools used in the Menu Editor, let's go through a practical exercise. I have my main menu open, and I want to define my first button. To do this I will use the functions on the bottom of the Menu Editor window.

First, I am going to turn on the background layer, the overlay layer, and the highlight layer. This way, I will be able to see the effect of what I am doing with the Highlight tool. Once all of these layers are selected, I'll press F3 on the keyboard to open the menu's property settings.

Notice in the graphic just above that there are three buttons labeled Normal, Selection, and Activation. I am going to choose the Selection button, then set Color 1 to a specific opacity so that I can see the overlay layer in the Menu Editor. To set the color and its opacity I click on the color itself, and the Windows Color Picker opens. I can choose any color, but I will choose white, then select OK to have my choice take effect. Next to the color I have set, there is an Opacity setting, which I have set to 100%.

My menu's Highlight Color properties are now shown above, and in my menu, since I have the selection mode set to 100% white, and I have chosen the Menu Editor's Show Overlay Layer option, I will see my overlays appear in the Menu Editor.

Next I selected the Highlight tool, circled in green at the bottom left of the menu editor, and drew a box around the visible overlay in the top box of the menu as shown below. I will now also see the Highlight layer I just created since I have chosen to see the Highlight layer with the Menu Editor function located at the bottom right and circled in green.

So as you see in the graphic above, I have all three of the lower right-hand side tools selected. Those tools are the Show Background Layer, the Show Overlay Layer, and the Show Highlight Layer functions. On the left-hand side, I have chosen the Highlight Tool, and I have drawn a box around the white check mark on the menu. The white check mark is the overlay layer, and it is currently viewable because I have selected the option of Show Overlay Layer, and the Highlight Color property is currently set to Selection, and 100% white. This is how you create button highlights and visually see the items you are working with in the Menu Editor. Now I'm going to set a target for this button.

Setting the Button Target:

Just to the right of the Highlight Tool is the Selection tool. I am going to choose that tool to select the green bounding box with the label "1". This is my first button, which I will now set to play Main: Chapter 1. To do this, I open the button property, selecting the button, then Pressing F3.

In the button's property palette, there is a Link To option, and I have chosen Main: Chapter 1. Now when I press this item in my menu, I will play Chapter 1 and on until the track has completely finished. When the track has completely finished, I need to also specify what must take place after that. That is a property of the track asset.

To set the track asset's property, once again I click on the track asset in the List Window, then press F3 if the property palette isn't already open. The graphic below shows the property of the track asset.

The name of my track asset is Main. I can change the name here if I like. Notice the End Action setting. I have chosen Main Menu. Just under that is the Set Highlight property. That property will contain a list of all available button targets in the Main Menu target. Since I only have one button for now, it will currently have one of two options: either not set, or set to the only available target, which is "1". This ensures that I return to this menu and highlight button 1 after playing the entire track called Main.

What if I were to interrupt the full playback of the track called Main by pressing the Menu button on the remote control?

I can use the same property to set what I want to happen when Menu on the remote is pressed. Let's look at the very same property of that track asset. There is another property called Menu Button. I now have this set to Main Menu. I can also choose which item in Main Menu I wish to highlight. I have selected "1", which is my only created button in the Main Menu thus far.

So you now understand how to create a menu, view its properties, create a button, and set its target. Let's go back to the Chapter Menu, because it is slightly different from what was just covered.

The chapter menu has an overlay layer much like the one I just explored. However, in the chapter menu, I want to use the Chapter Button Reference Frames I created in Avid Xpress Pro to create a thumbnail image button that links to each chapter in the track asset.

Remember that back in Avid Xpress Pro, I created the chapters as well as something called Chapter Button Reference Frames. In the graphic above I have the Avid Xpress Pro timeline, and you can see in each chapter in the Meta track that I have these little white ovals. These each mark one single frame, one from each chapter, that can be used to create a picture-based menu button.

Now take a look at graphic below. Here I have that same timeline imported into Avid DVD which shows the chapter markers after I imported the Metadata. You can see here again that all the chapters have been added into the timeline. But where are the Chapter Button Reference Frames?

By holding the Control key (Ctrl) on the Chapter tag and dragging it to the menu, I create a button highlight from the Chapter Button Reference Frame I had created before.

Those white areas you see I simply made in Photoshop so that when I did add my buttons from the Chapter Button Reference Frames, I would know exactly where to place them in my menu.

Those thumbnail images are actually buttons. That is to say, they are the highlight bounding box. That means the overlay bounding area is set to the exact dimension of the graphic.

Let's take a look and see what I mean.

Take a look at the Highlight Color setting. Color 1 is set to 0% for the Selection state. I'll need to raise that value in order to distinguish between selected buttons and normal buttons. Doing so will fill the image with the color at whatever opacity I select. So 100% opacity would completely block out the image.

This is the same menu, now with the Selection state set to 27% opacity. You can see that the entire image has a highlight state defined. This is an automatic property from creating thumbnails buttons from chapters. So creating thumbnail images is really creating buttons with highlight bounding areas to match. I don't need to create an overlay for these at all. They are an automatic property of the thumbnail process.

Normally I would use the Selection tool again to select each button in my chapter menu and then use the property palette to target the appropriate chapter for each of the buttons. A benefit of creating a thumbnail button from the chapters in the timeline is that the target is already created for me. I can check this by selecting any of the chapter buttons and then pressing F3 to view that button's properties. You'd see that each is already set to target the appropriate chapter.

I do however want to have a button that allows the user to go back to the main menu. So I have created an overlay layer which is nothing more than a graphic of an arrow to which I will create another button highlight that leads the user back to the main menu.

I have one more important matter to discuss here. Earlier I said that when the track asset is finished playing, it will return to the main menu. I'm now sending the user to that same track, albeit to specific chapter points, to play chapters. The chapters are really just a start point to the track asset, and as such, when that track is finished playing, guess where the user will return to? That's right, to the main menu. I would rather the user be returned to the chapter menu when playing a chapter point selected from the chapter menu. To do this, I need a way to override that track asset's End Action. The feature that allows me to do just that is called the Playlist.

Understanding the Playlist Function:

Is there a way to return to the chapter menu rather than the main menu?

The answer is yes, and it involves a feature called the Playlist. A Playlist is a special target I can set. What makes this target special is that it contains its own End Action which overrides the End Action of the track asset. I am going to use this playlist function with my chapter menu so that the user returns to the chapter menu when playing a chapter, thus overriding the End Action property of the track asset.

Here I have selected my first chapter button in my chapter menu. It was set to Main: Chapter 1; however, I have changed the Link To property to Playlist. Upon doing so, I needed to edit my Playlist. Note the graphic above which shows the larger Playlist window. The only option of movie sources is my single track asset called Main.

Take a look at the lower right-hand side now. These settings allow me to select a specific chapter that belongs to the Main track asset that I have. I have selected Chapter 1 again. Just under that, I can set the End Action, and a specific button to highlight. I have selected the Menu called Chapter, and the number 1 button.

I'll do this for each of my chapters in my chapter menu. Now when the chapter menu is used to play a chapter to conclusion of the track asset, the user will return to the chapter menu, not the main menu as the track asset is assigned to do. When the user plays the full track from the main menu, the user will return to the main menu.

Now I'm finished and ready to burn my DVD-R and conclude this lesson.

Burning a DVD:

Once I have finished linking all of my media, I'll want to simulate my DVD. This helps me discover any oversights I may have made. I'll use the simulator remote to test all my links. I'll press the top menu and menu buttons while playing my track and make sure I like all the functionality of the DVD.

Once I am confident that my DVD is in good order, I'm ready to build the DVD.

Using the pull-down menus at the top, I'll select Build. There are several choices here.

I may simply choose the option Make DVD Disc and begin to build and burn my DVD immediately. However, if I would like to do one final test before committing to DVD, I can choose the option Make DVD Folder.

This option is exactly like burning a DVD-R, but without the media. Instead, the build files, also known as the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders, along with all their contents are built to a folder of my choice on my hard disk. With these folders, I can use my software DVD player to test my DVD as well as use a third-party DVD burning application to burn my finished DVD project using the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders already created.

To build to folder, I simple choose that option, then choose any folder as a target on my PC.

Once I have selected this destination, I am prompted to build the project.

I can select the Build button on the lower left-most side. Once this step is completed, I open the destination folder. Inside that folder will be a folder which will carry the name of my project. Inside that folder are the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders. I can now test or burn those build folders with any third-party application of my choice.

If you would rather just burn the DVD, simply choose Make DVD Disc, then insert a blank DVD, and choose Make DVD Disc.

When prompted, I choose Current Project for the Source, then select the Next button.

I am prompted one final time to build.

Once the DVD has finished its burn, I'll receive a notice of completion, unless of course, something goes wrong.

And I have completed this DVD project.

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Conclusion:

This has been a very basic and general overview covering many topics. Hopefully this will give you a foundation in which to explore the use of DVD authoring with Avid Xpress Studio. Many topics were not part of this tutorial, such as menus with video in the background, also called Motion Menus. The context of this tutorial is to take you from the timeline to a working DVD in a short amount of time with the most basic of foundations. From these beginnings I hope you further explore the potential of these integrated applications.


(C)Copyright 2004 Alex Alexzander and The Creative Cow
Special Thanks to the Earth Dance Theater for the use of their footage.
All Rights Reserved


Please visit the forums or read other articles at Creativecow.net if you found this page from a direct link.


Comments

Re: Avid Media composer DVD Basics in Avid
by Andrew Hagan
I currently use Avid media Composer. What is the best DVD authoring package to use? I am becoming very frustrated at the amount of compression to my movie files when creating any DVD.
What is the best process (exporting from Avid and importing to the authoring package) in order to get the best results.
My current method is simply -
In Avid - [Set ins and outs on the timeline]-[File]-[Export]-[WMV](on highest quality setting]-
Then in Roxio or Avid DVD [Import file]-[Choose DVD size (4.7 or 8.5)]-[Author]-[Burn DVD]
This generally reduces my movie file from for example 4,2GB to maybe 1.7GB space on my DVD and the compression is ridiculously obvious.
Any info or tips would be gratefully appreciated.

Andrew Hagan


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