Deciding What You Want to Accomplish?Menu Structure

DVDs feature menu-based interactivity. If you think in terms of a simple outline, you can visualize a DVD project. It may be best to start with the basics (video-only projects):

  • Family vacation highlights

  • A corporate backgrounder

  • Real estate promotion

  • Watching your child grow

  • Weddings and special events

The beauty of DVD is that these don't have to be single programs that viewers watch from beginning to end. You can split them up into digestible chunks:

  • Put four vacation videos on one DVD.

  • Create a collection of corporate product videos.

  • Promote a housing development with separate videos of interiors, exteriors, views, schools, and local amenities.

  • Use a DVD for a half-dozen birthday parties.

  • Divide the wedding into preliminaries, the ceremony, and the reception.

Figure 21.1 shows a basic, video-only DVD menu. Four buttons on the opening splash screen of your DVD project give viewers instant access to four different videos. While watching any of the four videos they can press the Menu button on their remote control and return immediately to the opening menu.

Figure 21.1. A basic, video-only DVD menu interface.

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Consider displaying more than simply a collection of videos. You can add photos and music. So-called "nested" menus?one menu accessing another?allow much greater interactivity.

Take a look at Figure 21.2 for a simplified family history DVD example.

Figure 21.2. Using "nested" menus adds extra layers of interactivity.

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In this case?using a map for a menu background?viewers of your family tree DVD access the opening menu, select a country of origin, and in a nested menu select from Photos, Documents, Interviews, and Family History Video.

That nested menu concept may continue on past Family History Video. You may want to divide it into separate eras: Old Country, Immigrants, and Present Day.

Consider your child's baseball season. An opening menu could have buttons for Game Videos, Stats, Interviews, and Funny Moments. Accessing each of those would reveal additional menus. For instance, Game Videos could have menu buttons for each game?or Regular Season and Championship Series. Stats could be graphic displays created in Photoshop Elements.

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Remember, this is video. Text displays need to be simple, clear, and minimal. That said, the beauty of DVDs is that with some authoring software you can add DVD-ROM material to them for users who may view DVDs on their PCs. That DVD-ROM data can be any kind of file that will run on a PC, including word processing documents and spreadsheets.

However, DVDit! LE does not let users add DVD-ROM files to their projects. Its more expensive older siblings?SE and PE?do.


Once you start playing with DVD creation and seeing the smiling faces of those viewing your masterpieces, you'll start thinking in terms of putting just about anything on DVD?for instance, holiday greetings, music compilations, and archived videos.

A First-Time DVD Authoring Experience

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"Exciting" is how Leonard Broz describes burning his first DVD. "I waited my whole life for this moment," he adds with a smile.

Now, when he shows family video albums and "mini-travelogues" to relations and friends, there's no more time wasted waiting to swap tapes and fast forwarding or rewinding looking for clips. "Plus the video quality is higher than dubbing it off to VHS," he says.

A former technology and industrial arts teacher from suburban Chicago, Broz now winters in Arizona, where he teaches computer-based video-and photo-editing techniques to other seniors in his community. DVD, he tells his students, is the ideal medium both for storing their collections of memorable moments and for sharing them with family and friends.

To show them how easy it can be to make DVDs?and also to create his own personal DVD albums?Broz uses Sonic Solutions' entry-level DVD authoring program, MyDVD. Using MyDVD's built-in wizards, Broz explains, even his students who are just getting started with computers find it very straightforward to record video "direct to DVD" or to create menus with preset styles and then burn their own DVDs (see Figure 21.3).

Figure 21.3. Broz said it was a breeze to use the consumer-level MyDVD to convert vacation photos and videos into interactive DVDs.

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Broz creates the raw materials for his projects using both a still camera and a video camcorder. "For instance, when I travel to places like Mesa Verde," he says, "I take a whole bunch of flower photos with my digital camera and shoot some scenery with my Mini-DV camcorder."

He edits 90 minutes of raw video down to 10 minutes or so, converts his digital images into a slide show with transitions, and then adds a narration and music. After converting it to MPEG-2 he imports it to MyDVD, chooses a "style," (see Figure 21.4) and records it all to DVD.

Figure 21.4. MyDVD's Style menu makes it easy to create menus.

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MyDVD's custom styles allow him to quickly personalize attributes such as the font, text size, and background image of his menus as well as to save his preferences as new styles.

Broz is so enthusiastic about the DVDs he's made with MyDVD that he's turning his attention to the 300 or so videotapes he has of family footage shot over the years, starting with his wedding day.

He plans to transfer those tapes to the computer, scan in family photos, edit them down to manageable size, and create "the story our life on DVD."

Broz knows his family will be receptive to the idea of a video album on DVD because he's already created discs in a similar vein. "My son was married last year," he explains, "and we had video from the reception, shots from showers that were thrown for them, and their photos from the honeymoon. I used MyDVD to put it all onto one DVD (see Figure 21.5), and I sent it to him about a week ago. He's just elated with it."

Figure 21.5. Broz's son's wedding DVD was a big hit.

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