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iDVD '09 connects with other iLife '09 applications to create slick, professional-looking DVDs incorporating pictures, movies, and music. In iDVD '09 Essential Training, Garrick Chow takes a detailed look at how to create a DVD using Apple's built-in shortcuts or the provided customized templates. Users will see how to build menus and submenus, automatically create scene selection menus, and archive the final project on a disk or as a disk image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Let's take a look at some important preferences in iDVD. I'm going to select iDVD > Preferences and here in iDVD Preferences we have five different categories: General, Projects, Slideshow, Movies and Advanced. Let's start with General. First under Menus we have a checkbox for Show drop zone labels and that simply turns the labels for the drop zones on or off. I prefer to keep that checked so I can tell which drop zone is which and I recommend you do the same especially if you're working in a theme that has multiple drop zones.
Next we have Show Apple logo watermark, which you can check and you can see that puts a little Apple logo on your project. It's completely up to you whether you want to advertise the fact that you created your DVD on a Mac. I tend to keep that off. The third option here is Fade volume out at end of menu loop. Basically what this means is when you're playing a menu containing background music, the music will play all the way to the end and then the entire menu will loop back to the beginning and the music will start over, and it will just do this endlessly in a cycle until the person watching the DVD selects a menu item.
The music in iDVD's themes has been designed to do this. They flow seamlessly from the end of the music track right back into the beginning. But if you've imported your own music you might not have edited your music to fit exactly the length of the iDVD theme menu loop which can result in having a music abruptly chopped off at the end of the cycle before it starts all over again. So if you're using your own music you probably do want to keep Fade volume out at end of menu loop checked because then iDVD will add a nice fade out to the music so it doesn't sound like the music was just suddenly cut off. The next section of choices here falls under When changing themes and we have the choices of: Use theme default values, Retain changes to theme defaults and Always ask. This preference becomes important when you customize the look of a theme.
For example, if you've changed the look of a default menu button and then you want to try at another theme and you have Use theme default values checked, your changes are going to be replaced in favor of the new theme settings. If you have Retain changes to theme defaults selected, your changes will carry over into the new theme, or you can always check Always ask for iDVD to ask you each time you change a theme to see which choice you want to make. I personally just keep Use theme default values selected because I really make such extreme changes to a theme that redoing the change takes a lot of time. But you might want to make a different selection here.
Next we have Check for iDVD updates automatically, because occasionally Apple will release updates to the software and those are usually bug fixes or feature enhancements. Leaving this option checked will have iDVD check for these updates automatically whenever you open the program. The last button in this section of the Preferences is Reset Warnings. Occasionally you get messages from iDVD that include checkboxes that say something like Don't Show Me this Again. If you're seeing an alert over and over again you would most likely prefer not to have to see it any more and you have probably seen this kind of message in some other programs if not in iDVD.
Or if you've told iDVD to not show you something again but then change your mind, just come into Preferences and Click Reset Warnings and then iDVD will start showing you those warning messages again. Next we have our Projects Preferences. What you see here are the default settings for any new iDVD projects you create. Video Mode refers to the format of your video. If you're in North America or Japan, you'll use the NTSC format, which displays videos at a rate of 30 frames/second. If you're in Europe you'll be using the PAL format, which displays video at 25 frames/second. But in most cases you'll have the correct setting in here already, so you won't have to change it unless you're creating a DVD for someone in another country using a different standard. So if I were creating a DVD for a friend in Europe, I would change the Video Mode to the PAL setting.
Next we have the Encoding menu and we have three options in here -- Best Performance, High Quality and Professional Quality and these basically determine how iDVD encodes or writes your final DVD. Before you burn your final DVD, iDVD has to encode all of your videos, menus and audio properly for use on a regular DVD. With Best Performance selected iDVD encodes your video while you're working on building your DVD project. So if I've added some video to my project already and I'm still working on adding more, if I have Best Performance selected, iDVD is actually working in the background encoding the video I've already added, so I won't have to do it when I finally go to burn my DVD. So it can save you a lot of time when it comes time to burn the final DVD because a lot of the encoding might already have been done.
This Best Performance setting is best for videos that are less than an hour or so. If you're going to have a DVD that's longer than hour, you'll probably want to choose one of the other two settings. So High Quality is a better choice if you have a longer movie, longer than an hour and you want to make sure that iDVD chooses the best possible settings for the amount of data you need to fit on the disc. So with longer movies you'll generally find a better looking video quality with High Quality selected than if you have Best Performance selected. The third choice is Professional Quality, which takes about twice of the time as High Quality Encoding takes but gives you the absolute best quality possible for your project. You can use this setting for both short and long movies.
You can fit about two hours of video on a regular recordable DVD, also called a DVD-R, but iDVD can also burn to dual layer DVDs or DVD-DLs, which can contain about four hours of video. But be prepared to wait a long time if you choose Professional Quality like overnight at least. In many cases when you're ready to burn your final DVD, it's best to start everything before you go to bed at night and hopefully by the time you wake up the project will be complete. The final menu here is DVD Type and this is a menu for selecting the type of DVD whether it's single-layer or double-layer that you intend to burn your project to. It's important to choose the proper type here because iDVD will base its compression settings on how much space it will have to burn that final DVD.
So for instance, if you know that you'll be burning to double layer discs for the majority of the time you'll probably want to select double-layer. If you know that you're going to be burning to single layer discs, keep single-layer selected. Now keep in mind these preferences are for all new projects you open. These are the defaults that will be applied to any projects you create. If you want to change any of these settings for the project you currently have open, you don't do it here on Preferences. Instead you go to the Project menu and choose Project Info. Here is where you'll to find the same settings we were just looking at in Preferences but these are specific to the current project I'm working in.
So if I want to change the Encoding setting to Professional for just this project, I can select it from the Encoding menu here, or if I want to change the video mode for just this project to PAL I can select that from here as well. Notice that I get the warning here saying that changing the TV standard will require iDVD to encode all the previous encoded assets again. So let me just cancel that. Notice here that we also have Quality and Capacity bars that tell you how much space you're using up and its affect on the final quality of your project. As you add more content to your project, the arrow that you see here will move to the right and the Quality bar will start turning yellow and eventually red, telling you that you're pretty much filling up your disc and can expect to see a dip in the video quality.
The Capacity bar you see here will contain color-coded bars showing you which type of content is taking up how much space. You'll see specific colors for DVD-ROM content, Slideshows, Menus and Movies. This is a lot like the bar you see in iTunes when you connect an iPod telling you how much of your iPod space is being taken up my music, videos or applications. I'll go ahead and close the Project Info window. Now there are three other categories of Preferences, Slideshows, Movies and Advanced, but we'll get to those as they come up because they applied to specific types of content. For now, those are the essential preferences I wanted to introduce you to.
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