Review the questions and answers in this section to try to sharpen your DVDit! authoring skills. Also, take a few moments to tackle my short quiz and the exercises.



I imported some old family photos to use as stills, menu backgrounds, and buttons, but they look squashed or elongated when I bring them into DVDit!. What's going on?


DVDit! alters images to match a standard TV 4:3 aspect ratio. If your images do not exactly fit that ratio, DVDit! will stretch or squash them to fit. Images for menu backgrounds should be at least 640x480, and stills should be 720x540. If your images are less than those resolutions, DVDit! will expand them, causing them to lose some sharpness. When you scan your photos, do it at 72 dots per inch. TVs can't display at a higher resolution.


I created a set of layered buttons in Photoshop and saved them directly into the DVDit! Buttons folder. But all I see is a white frame with one button in it. When I drag that to a menu, there is no way to remove that white frame or use the other buttons. Why is that?


You need to let DVDit! actually import that graphic. It's not enough to put it in the proper file folder. Open DVDit!, select Theme, and then select your theme from the list or select Open Theme to find and open your theme. Go to the Button palette, click Theme, select Add Files to Theme, select your Photoshop PSD file, and then click Open. DVDit! will now note that this is a layered Photoshop file with an alpha channel transparency and split up the file into its constituent buttons.



You can change a still image's duration in two ways. What are they?


Right-click that image's placeholder screen, select Properties, and change the Duration setting. Alternatively, you can drag an audio file to that image placeholder screen. The image will display for the length of the audio clip.


You've created the First Play menu with some great buttons and links, but now you want to use a video clip for the First Play item. How do you do this?


Open the movie placeholder screen's window and drag the movie that you want to open your DVD with to the First Play placeholder screen. It will replace the menu but does not delete the menu. It remains in its placeholder screen.


You've set a specific play duration for a still image in First Play. Upon completion, how do you have it jump automatically to a menu?


Right-click the still image's movie placeholder screen and select Properties. In the End Action drop-down menu, select the action to follow when the still image reaches the end of its duration. Usually this is the opening menu. While you're at it, check the other options. In the Menu Button drop-down list, select the menu that viewers will go to if they press Menu on their remotes during playback of this still. Also, in the Next Button menu, select where you want viewers to go when they press Next.


Drop shadows look more realistic when the shadow colors seem to pick up the color of the background. If you have a multihued menu background, it's nice to adjust the shadow colors to match. How do you give your text and buttons different drop shadow colors that fit with different background colors in the same menu?


I admit, this is going the extra mile. Open the Drop Shadow menu (Effects, Drop Shadow) and select Items in current menu from the drop-down list. Give all the items the same drop shadow characteristics: Distance, Blur, Opacity, and Light Source. Click OK. Now select each item in turn, open the Drop Shadow interface, select Selected Menu Items, and adjust only the color for that graphic. Do that for each item, attempting to match the background color within the shadow.



Create a menu with five buttons using the same shape for each but giving each different color and saturation characteristics. Then apply text to each button. Now give the buttons one set of drop shadow characteristics, making them look as if they are floating far above the menu. Then give the text different drop shadow characteristics, making it look close to the buttons. If you're really motivated, adjust the color of each drop shadow to approximate its background.


If you're proficient in Photoshop, create some buttons. Then import them to DVDit! using the Theme menu and selecting Add Files to Theme. You may create those buttons in layers. You do need to create a transparency layer; otherwise, the buttons will appear as full-screen boxes, with the buttons' graphics within the boxes.


Yes, family history fascinates me. So humor me and create a family tree DVD using still images as menu backgrounds and buttons. Add sound effects or period music to enhance still images. Use text to create banners titles for menus. Oh, and when you have a few minutes, use Premiere to create an entire family history video.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video