White Paper - DVD Studio Pro

May 5, 2003

How to Build a Basic Still Menu for DVD Studio Pro
By Darrin Sayewich


It is always important to make sure that you have a concept of what you would like a menu to look like prior to actually creating it. It is not necessary to create a masterpiece prior to building, but knowing generally where you want buttons and images to go usually makes the process a lot smoother. The final look always becomes subjective at the point of creation. A simple hand drawing or using layout software is always a good start to menu creation. (Layout software often found on newer Macintosh tower units is OmniGraffle. Check your applications folder or the system restore disc for it. www.theomnigroup.com)

OmniGraffle is a great tool for creating a layout that generally represents what you want your menu to look like.

Remember: Like editing video, DVD creation is 90% organization and 10% creation.

(This lesson will require PhotoShop to create a still menu. All references will be made to PhotoShop 7.)


  1. After you have launched PhotoShop you will need to create a new document. Simply go to File pull down menu and choose New.
  2. The New window will open and allow you to create a new workspace. We want to choose a preset that is located under a preset pull down menu in this window. Go to Preset then choose 720x534 Std. NTSC DV/DVD. Keep the colour mode of this as RGB color. For the sake of this exercise we will keep the background white.

  3. Create a new layer. Go to Layer>New Layer. A new layer will appear in the layer view window which is at the bottom right of your window.

  4. Select the paint bucket from the tool bar and paint this layer. It does not matter what colour you have selected.
    To paint the appropriate layer, you need to make sure that you select it in the layer view window
  5. Delete the original Background Layer. Simply select the layer and click on the trash can button in the layer window.
  6. Rename the new layer as Background. To do this all you need to do is to control click on the name of the layer and choose layer properties. You will see window that lets you change the name of the layer. Click OK when you have completed the new name.
  7. To help make sure that when we create our menu, all items will be seen on a television or NTSC monitor, it is important for us to create a safe title area. We need to show our rulers for this. Go to the View pull down menu and choose Rulers.

  8. To make it easer to create the safe area, having the rulers set to a percent measurement is optimal. Go to the PhotoShop pull down and choose Preferences. A sub-drop done menu will appear, choose Units and Rulers. Change rulers to a percent measurement, then click OK.
  9. We will now simply create the guides that we will stay within when creating our menu. Mouse over one of the rulers located at the edge of the workspace window. Click and hold with the mouse. Drag diagonally or horizontally (depending on which ruler you started from) and you will see a line. This is your guide. Simply place the guide 10% from the edge at the left and right side, top and bottom of your image. You will find that this is optimum for a workspace that will stay in the within the regions of a television.


  10. With a simple still menu, buttons need be nothing more than placeholders when created in PhotoShop. The actual button highlight will be created in DVD Studio Pro. Using the rectangle shape tool or rounded rectangle tool, located in the tool bar, create as many buttons that you might find necessary for your project. (I am going to create three.) A new layer will be created with each button (rectangle) added, so if you want to reposition the pictures simply make sure that you have the appropriate layer selected and move/nudge it with the Move Tool (v).
    REMEMBER: Unless you are going to create a more complex menu using overlays, (overlays not shown in this lesson) your buttons should be square or a rectangular shape as DVD Studio Pro can only create square or rectangular highlights.
  11. We can choose a colour for the buttons prior to creating them buy clicking on the foreground colour box in the tool bar. Choose your colour and click OK. or we can add a style like we did to the background. Simply drag and drop a style onto to appropriate button. (The colour of a button will be what the foreground colour is set to prior to creating the button.)
    REMEMBER: You need to make sure that you have the layer that you want to apply the style to select in the Layer Window.
  12. With many menus it is a stylistic choice to add picture references to the buttons that you create. Simply import any picture file that you want to use into PhotoShop. Select the area that you think works, (usually the whole picture) copy and paste it into your still menu. You can use either the Rectangular Marquee tool in the tool bar to select a specific area or go to the Select pull down menu and choose all. (For those that have previous Macintosh experience simply using za will also work.) A new layer will be created with each picture added, so if you want to reposition the pictures simply make sure that you have the appropriate layer selected and move/nudge it with the Move Tool (v). You also might need to change the size of the picture. Simply choose Edit>Free Transform. You will see a marquee box with “corner pins” appear around your picture. You can now change the size, distort or skew the image in any way that you want. (If you choose a corner pin and hold the shift key, you will constrain the proportion. The picture will adjust its size proportionately.)
  13. Using the Horizontal Type Tool (T) from the tool bar, select an area and enter text. If you look across the top of your window near the pull down menus, you will see options for adjusting your text. (i.e. font, size, colour) A new layer will be created with each new text layer added, so if you want to reposition the pictures simply make sure that you have the appropriate layer selected and move/nudge it with the Move Tool (v).

  14. If you want to add a drop shadow to any of the layers; text, picture, button, simply go to Layer>Layer Style>Drop Shadow. A window will open that will show you options for adjusting the drop shadow parameters.
  15. It is time to flatten out this image. Select the background layer. Go to Layer>Flatten Image. (DVD Studio Pro will not recognize any PhotoShop Styles. We have to flatten an image to ensure all of our stylized options will stay with the menu.)
  16. We can now save the file. As this is going to be a still menu with buttons generated in DVD Studio Pro, we can save this as PICT file. Got to File>Save As. A window will open that show the saving options, choose an appropriate location and click on save. A prompt window will appear asking if you want to add any compression to the file, make sure that none is selected.

    DVD Studio Pro Starts Here

  17. Import your menu into DVD Studio Pro. Go to File>Import. (Using command & click with mouse, will allow for you to choose multiple items to use in your DVD. You should also import MPEG assets.)
  18. Drag the menu item into the Graphical View.
  19. 19. Go to the Property inspector and set/re-set the name of the item. DVD Studio Pro Starts Here
  20. Go to the Picture field in the Property Inspector and choose the Menu asset that you created in PhotoShop. (PICT File)
  21. Go to the Button Hilites field in the Property Inspector.
  22. Choose the appropriate colours for your selected and activated states. You also need to choose the percent that the colour is opaque. The opacity value that we set in DVD Studio Pro will not be maintained when we burn a disc. There is a 20% gamma shift that occurs when you burn. Your menu items will become lighter. Always set your opacity higher than you want to achieve the look you desire.
  23. Double click on the thumbnail image in the Menu item that is located in the Graphical view.
  24. A sub-window will open and, if you set the Picture Asset properly you will see your menu item. In the top left side of the window you will see a box titled: untitled button. Select this button. You will know that you have this selected properly because the button will have an animated marquee around it and the Property Inspector will change.
  25. When the button is selected the cursor will change to a hand.
  26. Move the button to the appropriate location and resize it.
  27. Re-name the button.
  28. Go to a new location and drag a marquee around another item that you want to be a button. (Do this twice)
  29. Once you have completed your buttons, you need to set up the action that occurs when you select the button as well as the button links. With a button selected, go to the Property inspector.
  30. Find the Action field and look for Jump when activated.
  31. Select your MPEG or marker that you want this button to activate.
  32. Go to the Button Links field and select the up, down, left and right direction that you want to have remote buttons jump to when the disc is in a DVD player.
  33. Repeat steps 24 and 25 for each button that you have created.

copyright © Darrin Sayewich 2003


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