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Using drop zones and menu backgrounds

From: iDVD '09 Essential Training

Video: Using drop zones and menu backgrounds

Now let's look at another important aspect of customizing your DVD menus in iDVD. Drop zones. Drop zones are parts of a menu into which you can add or drop movies or still images to really give your menu a personalized, custom look. And I could continue sitting here all day trying to explain it better than that but it's so much easier just to show you how they work. I have copied the exercise files folders to my Desktop. So if you have access to the exercise files for this tutorial, you can do you can do the same and try this along with me. And inside exercise files, I have some folders: Bryce Canyon Pics, Southern Utah, deleted scenes, and a Southern Utah movie. Now the number of drop zones you are going to have is going to vary depending on which theme you have selected. In this revolution theme, I have just the 1 drop zone which you can see right there.

Using drop zones and menu backgrounds

Now let's look at another important aspect of customizing your DVD menus in iDVD. Drop zones. Drop zones are parts of a menu into which you can add or drop movies or still images to really give your menu a personalized, custom look. And I could continue sitting here all day trying to explain it better than that but it's so much easier just to show you how they work. I have copied the exercise files folders to my Desktop. So if you have access to the exercise files for this tutorial, you can do you can do the same and try this along with me. And inside exercise files, I have some folders: Bryce Canyon Pics, Southern Utah, deleted scenes, and a Southern Utah movie. Now the number of drop zones you are going to have is going to vary depending on which theme you have selected. In this revolution theme, I have just the 1 drop zone which you can see right there.

Now to add a movie or still image, I could go to the Media panel and grab photos from my iPhoto Library or from my Movies folder, but since I'm going to be using the files on my Desktop, I'm just going to drag them in from my Desktop. Now this of course requires you to have a movie to drag into iDVD, but you can easily create a movie for use in a drop zone in iMovie. I suggest editing it down to a maximum of 30 seconds or so if you can. Drop zone movies don't need to be much longer than that and you are basically increasing the amount of space on your DVD that your menus will take up, leaving less room for your actual content. So I'm going to grab a movie in Southern Utah called flowers.mov. I'm going to drag that into my drop zone, you can see it highlights with that yellow and black border. Let me close that for a moment, and to see that in action, I can just hit the Motion button.

So we can see all these different instances of my video playing all throughout this theme. It doesn't get much easier or cooler than that. Now some things you can do, you can customize the part of the movie that plays back, all you have to do is select the movie in the Drop Zone, and then you can drag the start and end sliders that appear to different parts of your movie. So if I didn't want to start this movie with this extreme close-up of the flowers, I can just drag in till I find a frame that I'm comfortable starting at, maybe right there. And I can do the same thing with the end of the movie.

If I don't want to show the very end of the movie, I can just drag in. That could be very useful if you have a great shot, you want to use, but maybe some stranger walks in the frame at the very end of the clip, you can just trim that part away, so it doesn't show up in your drop zone. Now I mentioned that you can also use still images in your drop zones, and adding them to your iDVD project is no different than adding a movie. Just the find the image you want to use. In this case, I'm going to go into Bryce Canyon Pics and I'm just going to choose Image 01 and drag that into the drop zone, and there it is.

I'll play that again. So not too much going on there. Because it's a still image, it's not going to move around, and selecting the image doesn't give me any other options. It's just the still image rotating around in this theme, which is still pretty cool. Forget this; you can add more than a single image into a single drop zone to create an automatic slide show right in the drop zone.

So for instance, I could select the rest the images in the Bryce Canyon Pics by holding on the Shift key and selecting them all, and just dragging them into the drop zone. Now when I select that drop zone, I get a slider in which I can choose which image I want to start with. And I can even Click Edit Order to see all of the photos and I can drag the images around. So I if I wanted to move this little chipmunk guy in a little bit, I could do that. And it looks like I actually need to drag all those images in. So I'm missing Image 01. So I can just drag that in. So we have 10 images, and maybe I want that to be the first image. And when I'm done, I can Click Return, close the drop menu area, and Click Play.

(Music playing.) And now I can see the slide show that's going on inside that single drop zone. (Music playing.) Now I can't change to the speed of the slide show. iDVD automatically spaces out the images based on the number of pictures and the amount of time the menu plays before it loops back to the beginning but this is still very cool. So this is how you work with a theme that has a single drop zone. Let's check out a theme that has a multiply drop zones. I will go back to Themes and I'll select that Forever theme again. iDVD tells me that applying the master of the theme to this project will change the theme for all menus in the project, which is fine for this example. So now I have changed themes. Let me scrub through here a bit.

Notice that iDVD has occupied just the first drop zone in this menu with all the images we dropped into the other theme instead of distributing them among the multiple drop zones. But that's how it's supposed to work. iDVD has no idea if you want to keep the slideshow going in one drop zone or distributed among all the drop zones. So it retains the behavior from the previous theme. You might also have noticed that some of my menu buttons have gotten a bit out of order here, like it just spread them out a little bit. We've moved this down.

So I would have to spend some time rearranging them, which I'm not really going to worry about right now, because we are talking about drop zones. So when you are working with multiple drop zones, it's best to pop up in the Drop Zone Editor, so you can see at a glance which images or movies you are using or if you've missed any drop zones. This theme has six drop zones, but only the first one is occupied right now. When I roll my mouse over it, notice it tells me that I have ten photos in that particular drop zone. I must go ahead and select them and hit the Delete key on my keyboard to clear them all out of there so we can start from scratch. So again this theme has six drop zones and there is never a moment when all six are onscreen simultaneously. So by opening the Drop Zone Editor, I'm making it easier myself by dropping my movies or images into these numbered areas.

So I can come back to my images and I'll drag 01 into Number 1 there, Number 2, that's 004, and this is 005, and we can even mix it up by dragging some movies into some of these drop zones. You don't have to stick to only still photos or only movies. I'd drag in flowers again and we'll drag the one called Stacks. Now let's see how that looks. (Music playing.) So those are the still images.

(Music playing.) Here, you can see one of the movies in the background. (Music playing.) All right, now notice that the menu itself is represented here in the Drop Zone Editor as well. This is where you can change the background of the menu, if you don't like iDVD's background. And we can drag in still images or videos for our menu background. So I can drag in the Clouds movie into that menu.

So we end up with this. Or we can just drag in a still image. I'll drag in 0015, and now we have something significantly different than the theme we started out with. Now drop zones aren't really your thing or if you like the look of the theme but you just don't think the drop zones aren't appropriate for your disk, you can turn them all of. Just Click somewhere within your menu to make sure nothing is selected, then open the Menu Info window, and then under Drop Zones just uncheck Show Drop Zones and Related Graphics. And we end up with just what you see here: the background of the menu and our buttons and other text.

And we still get motion when I Click the Motion button. Now this is a little weird because this theme has this animated confetti that kind of looks like snow, which makes it look like it's snowing in Southern Utah. So this theme probably would not work for what I'm doing here. Let's pick a different theme. I am going to go with Soft Frame, and again we can open up the Menu Info panel. We can choose to have drop zones or no drop zones. This particular one has the 1 drop zone. So by turning that off, I just have this sort of gradiated background. But again if I wanted to change this, I'd just open the Drop Zone Editor. In this case, there really is no drop zone like we have seen in the other themes. We only have the main menu's drop zone.

So if I did want to customize this, again I can just drag in one of my pages like so, and now we have a completely different background. I might need to rearrange some text here, which I can easily do. I would just line all these up. And I'll just stick that up there. So that's how we work with drop zones. The important thing to bear in mind about drop zones is that they are just there for visual flair; they don't act as links to other parts of your disk. You can't add audio to them, and they are not selectable by the people watching your DVD. They are just for show, but they do an incredible job of giving your menus a really professional look.

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iDVD '09 Essential Training

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