CS 325 and Film 385: Apple's iDVD and DVD Studio Pro 3

Highlights of this lab:

  • The iDVD Interface
  • The Customize Tab
  • Building a DVD
  • Creating a DVD
  • Burning a DVD
  • Introduction to DVD Studio Pro 3
  • Getting Started Making DVD User Interfaces
  • A Look at a Current DVD
  • Assignment

Please download these files which we will be using as a basis for the lab today

:: The iDVD interface ::

iDVD is a Mac only program that enables you to create DVDs. The iDVD interface opens with a 640 x 480 picture area. In the lower left there is a 'Themes' button (Red arrow), click on it and a shelf will open to the left. Scroll down and click on the different themes for a preview.

There are 14 Themes and each has a different style button and font. You are able to change the button style and font of any Theme and you can add your own background music. Several of the Themes have a movie as a background, other Themes use still images as backgrounds.

:: The Customize Tab ::

The top section of the Customize tab deals with the Background image.To set a background image or moving picture drag your image/movie and drop into the 'well' on the left. To add music drag a music file to the audio 'well' on the right. To change a background picture/movie or audio simply drag a new one to the 'well'. To remove audio, click on the audio icon in the audio 'well' and drag out. It will disappear in a puff of smoke (a new OS X feature).

The very top slider, 'Motion Duration', will enable you to set the length of your background movie up to 30 seconds. If your movie is longer than 30 seconds it will loop back to the start after 30 seconds and begin again. You can use this slider to trim back the play duration to set the end point of your movie for a more seamless loop.

When you open a Theme there will be the title of the Theme set as text. If you click on the title you will be able to type in your own text. In the Title section of the Customize tab you can choose a position for your title, or choose Custom so that you can click and drag the title anywhere you want. There are a large number of fonts available to choose from. Clicking on the Color box will provide you with a drop down menu for color selection. All type has a drop shadow.

In the Button section you can choose different style buttons in the 'From Theme' pop out menu. Select 'Free Position' and you will be able to drag the button to any location. Each button has text beneath it. You can change the font of the text from the font menu as well as the color. The last item is size. This slider changes the size of the text beneath the button but does not change the size of the button. There is no way to change the size of a button. Text settings for each page are Global. All buttons will have the same font, color and size.

Above are three of the 14 button styles available. The position of the text is fixed. Be careful not to let your buttons overlap. If your text extends beyond the borders of your button, this additional area makes up part of the space that your button uses. Slide Shows allow 'forward' and 'back' buttons. You'll need to keep these buttons clear of all other buttons as well.

:: Building a DVD ::

I shall be refering to the iDVD image area (what the viewer of the finished DVD will be seeing on the screen) as a page. You can have any number of different pages. To start work click on the Theme button to open the shelf. Start by picking a Theme or using your own image/movie and add sound if you wish. This background movie will fill the entire page. It loops every 30 seconds. Once you have the background of your page done you can start adding elements to the page. There are three types of elements that can be added; movies, slide shows, and folders (clicking on a folder will open a new DVD page, so a Folder is really just a link). It is important to understand that you can only have six different elements on any one page. This is why there are folders which will take you to a new page.


You can use a QuickTime movie (video and image files supported by QT, but not MPEG 1 or QT VR files). Simply drag and drop your movie anywhere on the page. It will turn into a button with a poster frame. The poster frame will be the first frame of the movie. To change the poster frame simply click on the button to get the poster frame slider. Dragging the slider will allow you to select the frame you want to use as a poster frame. You can position your button any where on the page by dragging it.

Slide Shows:

Add a Slide Show by clicking on the Slide Show button in the Tool bar. This will place a Slide Show button on your page.

Double click on the Slide Show button to open the Slide Show dialog box, shown below. You can drag and drop up to 99 photos. You can reorder the photos by clicking and dragging a photo to a new location on the list. To delete a photo simply select the photo in the list and hit the delete key. There is a pop up menu that will allow you to set the duration that each photo will be on the screen. 1 - 3 - 5 or 10 seconds. You can also set to manual. If you use the manual settings you may want to turn on the 'display arrows during Slide Show' so that your viewer can move from one photo to the next by clicking on the on screen arrows. It is not essential that you have the 'forward' and 'back' buttons on screen, they do take up valuable space. The arrow buttons on your remote control will work with or without the on screen buttons. To the right of the Slide duration button is an audio 'well'. Drop an audio file into the 'well' for background music or a Voice Over/Narration while the Slide Show plays. There is a setting 'fit to audio' which will play all your slides over the duration of the audio. If the audio is short the slides will advance quickly. If your audio is long, each slide will be on the screen for a longer period of time. When you are done click the return arrow, lower right, to return.


There can only be six elements, buttons, slide shows and folders, on any one page. What iDVD calls a folder is exactly like a link on a 'web' page. Click on the Folder button in the Tool bar and a new button will appear on the page, titled Folder. Like any other button you can drop a still or movie onto the button.

When you click on this 'folder button' you will go to a new page. The new page will have the exact same background as the page you came from. You can change the background of the new page to a movie, a still or a Theme. The way you know that you are on a new page is that there will be a 'return arrow' in the lower left corner of the page. This return arrow will change color depending on the color of the background surrounding it. This is a new page so once again you can put six elements on it. Any number of which can be 'Folders' which will take you to other new pages. You can go down any number of levels, each level can have six elements.The only limit is the size of the DVD.


As you saw when you opened up iDVD, the background art work for the DVD page can be a movie with audio. It gets more interesting. When you drop a movie onto the page and it turns into a button with a poster frame, you have a new choice. Instead of using a poster frame on the face of the button you can have the movie playing on the face of the button (no audio). The viewer of the DVD can see a miniature version of the movie playing, if they click on the miniature playing movie, the full size movie will open on the screen and begin to play. This is exciting stuff. When your DVD opens up for your audience the screen can have a movie playing with music or Voice Over (it can be a still with or without audio). The buttons on the page can also have miniature movies playing, all at the same time. If one of the elements on the page is a link (Folder) to a new page, that new page too can have a background movie playing with more buttons that have movies playing as well. To turn on Motion simply click on the Motion button in the Tool bar. To stop the motion of a movie button, click on the button and uncheck 'movie', this will turn it into a Poster Frame. Turning off the Motion button will also disable all background audio, but not the audio belonging to any of the movies. The Motion setting is Global, Motion is either on or off for the entire DVD.

Testing your DVD:

While working in iDVD you have two states. The Composing state, with the shelf open or Preview state, where the shelf closes and you get a DVD remote Control on the screen to play and move around in your DVD to preview. To change from composing to preview click on the Preview button in the Tool bar.

You will have a remote control 
on the screen that will work in the same 
manner as the remote control that comes with 
desktop DVD players. To 
leave the Preview state click on the green exit button. 
The remote control will close and the shelf will re open.

:: Creating a DVD ::

You will want to plan out your DVD before you start to work. The first thing to consider is your audience. If you plan for your DVD to be viewed on computers only, you can use the entire page. However, if your audience will be viewing your DVD on TV sets as well as computers then you'll need to turn on 'TV Safe Area' (Red arrows) from the Expert menu.

iDVD has one size, 640 x 480 pixels. iDVD will automatically resize any image that is not 640 x 480. If your still image or movie is smaller than 640 x 480, iDVD will enlarge the image and this can cause pixelization. If you use a FCP movie which is 720 x 480, iDVD will scale it down so that it will fit into a 640 x 480 space. As the iDVD maintains a 4:3 aspect ration, there will be black borders. These black borders do fall outside the TV Safe Area (560 x 400). When viewed on a computer the borders will be visible. For still images to be used as backgrounds on any of your iDVD pages, you will want to create them at exactly 640 x 480. You can use any format supported by QuickTime. PhotoShop (psd), TIFF, PICT, Jpeg and others. I do not recommend using Jpegs as they are a 'lossy' compression scheme and the quality will not be as good. When a movie is dropped onto an iDVD page it turns into a button with either a poster frame or a running movie. You can, if you wish, drop any still image onto the face of the button. Clicking on the button still brings up the full size movie. For audio you can use MP3, AIFF or audio QT movies. I suggest that you use a 48 k audio sample rate. You will need to have the volume levels for your different audio files as close as possible. It is very disconcerting to have different volume levels from movie to movie or page to page. There is no way to modify the volume levels inside iDVD. You will need to balance the volume of your audio files before you place them into iDVD. Any QT movie can be used with iDVD. If you are creating your movies in iMovie 2.0.3 or higher, select Export from the menu and choose 'iDVD'. With older versions of QT export as a QT movie, full quality - large.

Background Encoding:

As you place stills, movies and audio onto your pages, 
iDVD will begin the encoding process in the background. Clicking 
on the Status tab will display all the items in your iDVD project and 
show the encoding status of each one. If iDVD is in the process of 
encoding, a progress bar will display the progress, (Red arrow). 
The Status tab will also show the Project Duration and the amount 
of time used so far by your project. By default, the DVD length is 60 
minutes of "high quality" video. If the amount of your media exceeds 
60 minutes iDVD automatically resets to 90 minutes of "lower quality"
video and will re encode your material at this lower quality. If you 
remove enough material to drop back below 60 minutes iDVD will 
re-encode your material at higher quality.

:: Burning a DVD ::

Last step, burning your DVD. First make sure to save your project. Enter the Preview mode and make sure that the Motion button is on if you have any motion or background audio. To start the burn process double click the Burn button. The DVD drive door will open and you will be asked to insert a blank DVD - R. When the blank DVD has been inserted the burning process will begin. You will have a progress bar that shows time remaining to complete the burn.

:: Introduction to DVD Studio Pro 3 ::

DVD Studio Pro is a DVD authoring softare designed to simplify DVD-Video authoring. It offers direct integration with Final Cut Pro, *Motion* (On the big fancy MACS with the huge screens), and Photoshop. While you are editing in Final Cut Pro, simply add chapter markers and then import them with the QuickTime reference movie directly into DVD Studio Pro. Your projects can also be encoded as MPEG-2 directly from Final Cut Pro with Compressor for the best quality, etc.

DVD Studio Pro 3 offers a variety of templates and transitions accelerate the design process. More than 50 Apple-designed menu templates allow you to create DVDs quickly. These can be customized or you can start from scratch and design your own templates or import images as backgrounds, etc. DVD Studio Pro also offers 30 transitions that will seamlessly blend between menus and slides. With a click or two, you can add transitions to entire menus, menu buttons, slides in a slideshow, and stills in tracks.

The Interface

Choosing Templates or Importing Images

It is easy to apply templates and background images/buttons/drop zones, etc. Simply drag the template/image file from the pallete to the menu and observe the change! If you are draging a non-pre-built template, a pop-up dialog will appear asking you what you wish to make the dragged item. The pop-up dialog will appear somewhat similar to this:

The Graphical View

The graphical view allows you to see the flow of your DVD. It resembles something similar to a storyboard. The graphical view lets you, the designer, or the clients that you are making the DVD for visually see the flow of the entire DVD project.

The Timeline

The timeline-based Track editor lets you configure your tracks in DVD Studio Pro 3 using an interface that is familiar to iMovie and Final Cut Pro users. In addition to providing a linear view of a track and all the video, audio, and subtitle streams it can contain.

:: Getting Started Making DVD Interfaces ::

To quickly get started making DVD interfaces let's follow the following steps:

:: A Look at a current DVD ::

Although DVD's generally fall under the umbrella of what constitutes "art" the interfaces still have to be functional enough for users to understand what to do, where to go, etc. Recently, I've become quite the Buffy fan (and Angel fan....I know....it be sad!). However, the structure of the DVDs from the Buffy/Angel series is quite strange.

Users who are unfamilair with the episode guide do not know whether to choose an episode going left to right or up or down?!? This is simply BAD design. I had to first go look on the internet for an episode guide so I could pick the right episdode order.

:: Assignment ::

For this assignment I would like you to play around with iDVD or DVD Studio Pro and try to develop a "functional" DVD interface for your favorite TV show. Google for images and create a masterpiece! Use what we did in the lab to guide you. You will not have any tracks to add (most likely) but have menus describing different characters, add sounds, etc.

Submit your iDVD or dvd studio files (including the DVD project file and all sounds, images, and clips (if any) and submit it in you profile on Web-CT, in the assignments folder using the link for this lab assignment. The due date is Nov. 15 at 11:00am. Have fun!

..:: Online Source(s) ::..