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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.
When you're working in iDVD your goal is to create a physical disc that you can send off to your friends and family, which they can then play in their regular set-top DVD player or in their computer or wherever they happen to play their DVDs. The point is you might never know exactly on what device your DVD will be played. So there is an important step to take to make sure that people watching your DVD will be able to see what you intend them to see. I'm going to select another theme and let's go with Sunflower. I'm going to add a couple of menu buttons. So I'll come down to the Add button and I'm going to choose Add Submenu and I'll add another one and let's add a Movie button.
In the next chapter, we'll be looking at how to work with sub-menu buttons but for now I just wanted to create a couple of buttons on screen so we have something to work with. Now let's drag these around on our screen, away from their default areas. I'll just drag these anywhere I like. Notice that iDVD does offer these guidelines letting me know when I've aligned my button with another button on screen whether it's in the center there or by its edge, like so. If you're trying to follow along and you're finding that you can't just place these buttons anywhere on screen you want, Click the Info button. Now currently this is the Button Info button because I have a button selected. This is a contextual menu, so I'm going to Click off to deselect the button I currently have selected. You can see that now it turns this window into the menu Info window. And in here you just want to make sure that Free positioning is checked which allows you to drag buttons anywhere on screen you like.
So after placing these buttons I would continue working with them by customizing the text, linking them to sub-menus and so on. But what I want to emphasize right now is making sure that everyone who might watch this DVD I'm making can see these buttons in their entirety. Now I'm currently working in a widescreen project and what I'm about to show you is sometimes less of an issue when you're working in widescreen because many people will be watching your widescreen project on a widescreen TV like a modern LCD or plasma TV. Older TVs are in the standard 4:3 aspect ratio. A lot of times they have a plastic casing around them that has a big old TV tube and that casing often covers a small portion around the edges of the TV screen which might in turn cover part of your project.
So what we can do in iDVD is go to the View menu and we have an option here to Show TV Safe Area. This grays out the area that could potentially be covered by a casing around TV screen. Of course if someone were watching your DVD on a computer you won't have to worry about it because they'll probably be watching your DVD on a window on a computer screen. But even if they're watching in full screen mode or on a modern LCD or plasma TV, even though those monitors and widescreen DVDs don't usually have case that cover any significant portion of their screen, some still do. You can see that there are parts of my sub-menus that are currently outside that TV Safe Area. This Add Movie button is almost completely outside the TV Safe Area. Now this isn't a guarantee that they'll be chopped off when viewed on a TV but if I want to be completely sure that anyone watching my DVD on any device will see everything the way I intended, I want to make sure to move every element into the TV Safe Area. So I'll drag that button and make sure it's in that area, just aligned them like so.
Now the other thing to consider when you're working with a widescreen project is that some people might be watching your project on a standard TV in the 4:3 aspect ratio. In which case you might want to turn off the TV Safe Area by choosing Hide TV Safe Area and then choose View > Show Standard Crop Area. So this is what happens on some TVs when you display a wide screen image, the TV crops off the left and right sides of the project. So you can see that each of my menus is still being cropped off here. So I might want to just move those in a little bit more to the left just to be safe.
So with a setup like this, even though it looks a little cramped, I can be guaranteed that my menus will appear in their entirety on pretty much any device this DVD is played on. Still these are just estimates, northing is really standard about the TV Safe Area or the Standard Crop Area but this is iDVD's best guess at what might be cut off on some older TVs. I'll go ahead and Hide that Crop Area. You can see that even with the menus moved in more towards the center, it really doesn't look too bad or cramped at all once you have the crop area display hidden. But a lot of this depends on which theme you choose and how many menu items you need to add. Some things have more room for more menus while others are better off with just a few items.
So just keep the idea of the TV Safe Area in the back of your head as you build your iDVD project. Avoid dragging buttons or other elements all the way flush with the edge of the menu because you might actually put your menus in places where people won't even be able to see them. Of course, if you know that the person watching your DVD will only be watching on a computer then you can feel free to drag your items anywhere you want. But you should be pretty certain that they'll only be watching on a computer before you do something like that. Finally I should mention that the View > Show Standard Crop Area option is only available if you're working in a wide screen project. If I switch my project to standard 4:3, notice that Show Standard Crop Area is not available because I'm already looking at the standard crop area. I can still turn on the TV safe Area and you can see it still displays the safe area and my elements are still inside that area.
So let's do something to keep in mind as you're building your project. Turn on the TV Safe Area every now and then just to make sure your elements are still within the viewable area. The good news is that iDVD automatically keeps all menus within the safe area by default. So if I were to choose another theme, I went up and choose Revolution and I'll change this back to 16:9. You can see that all of my menu items are still within that TV Safe Area. So really you only have to keep the TV Safe Area in mind if you're moving things around a lot on your screen. I'll go ahead and turn that off and we'll move on to the next movie.
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