DVD-lab Pro Basic DVD Authoring Guide

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Date Added: Aug 26, 2008
Date Updated: Aug 26, 2008


DVD-lab Pro is well know for being a professional level DVD authoring tool that is accessible to the general public due to a lower price as well as an easier to grasp user interface. It is a powerful DVD authoring tool that has the flexibility to create almost any kind of DVD, and this is the kind of flexibility not found in your average DVD authoring tools such as Nero Vision or TMPGEnc DVD author which are aimed at non professional users. Of course, the flexibility also means increased complexity, and some of the niceties of beginner oriented DVD authoring such as automatic conversion and encoding, are not present.

This guide is therefore aimed at intermediate or advanced users, although this version of the guide will only cover what is considered the basics of DVD authoring. And even then, it would be almost impossible to cover every function available in DVD-lab Pro, especially when it comes to menu creation. I will go through a walkthrough style concrete example of creating a menu though, which hopefully will cover at least the most common functions. If you've never burned a DVD in your life, then this guide is probably not for you (try one of the other guides listed in our DVD Authoring Tools Roundup instead).

Additional functions and complex topics such as multi VTS authoring, multi-angle authoring, are not covered specifically, and an advanced version of this guide will cover these topics instead.

The companion article to this guide is the AVI to a DVD Compliant MPEG-2 File Using QuEnc guide, which tells you how to get an AVI (or other types of video files) to a DVD compliant MPEG-2 file, necessary for this guide.

If you want alternatives to DVD-lab Pro, perhaps something easier to use, please read our DVD Authoring Tools Roundup to find out which DVD authoring tool is best for your needs.

Software you'll need (all freeware):



Start DVD-lab Pro. If this is the first time you've used DVD-lab pro, then you will be greeted with the new project setup screen (see below). If not, don't worry, you can access the same screen from the "Project" menu's "Set Default Project" option (there is a checkbox at the bottom where you can choose to have this window automatically displayed upon starting a new project, or not). Here, you can configure the type of project you want to make. Choose PAL or NTSC depending on your source material. You can also choose the complexity of the project, either a normal disc with menu or movie or a simple movie only project or a previously saved template. The "Mega-Project" option is for when you want to produce a title when hundreds of menu pages, which can cause memory shortage problems and so creating a "Mega-Project" will store these menus in the system cache instead of system memory. Once you are happy with your options, press "OK" to continue.

DVD-lab Pro: Default Project


Let's first have a look at the DVD-lab Pro interface. The main interface is divided into several sub-areas. There is the usual menu bar at the top where you can access the option menus "File", "Edit", View" "Project" ...

DVD-lab Pro: Layout


The "Project" tree view area (this is what I will refer it as from now on) gives you a tree view of your current project, including all movie assets, menus ... it's a fast way to skip to sections of your project. The "Assets" section is where the assets that you wish to use in the project are loaded and stored. An asset is basically any element used in the project, including graphics for menu buttons, background audio and even the main movie itself. To the right of that is the "Preview" area, where you can preview assets. Going up, this is the main work area. The "Connections" window shows how the menus and content/movies link to each other ... this is a good way to see how navigation works on the DVD, and you can create new menus, navigation links here. Then there is the "Movie Editor" window - the screenshot above actually shows the "Movie 1" window, which is the movie editor window for the content "Movie 1" (it's blank at the moment). This is where you add chapter stops, additional audio tracks and cut/skip sections out from the movie. You can arrange the windows in this main work area from the "Windows" menu, selecting tile for example.

Okay, the first thing we will do is to configure the project properties. From the "Project" menu, select "Project Properties". Here you can configure the properties of this project. You can change the video system of the project again here, as well as specify what types of movies are acceptable to the project. You can then specify the quality/size of the menu, Full D1 being the highest quality (recommended). Select the aspect ratio of the menu, widescreen or fullscreen. If your movie is widescreen or if you've chosen to have a widescreen menu, then "Widescreen Movie/Menu Display on 4:3" options are relevant. These two determine how the disc/player should display widescreen content on 4:3 displays. If you choose the "Letterbox" option, then black borders will be automatically added on the top and bottom to correct the aspect ratio (this is the recommended and default setting). You can also choose "Pan & Scan", which will zoom into the widescreen picture to get the 4:3 picture (but the left and right are cut off) - this is not recommended for movies, but you can use this for menus as long as you place all the relevant buttons, text and images within the pan & scan area (more on this when making menus). My personal preference is to use the "letterbox" setting for both. Note that if you have multiple VTSs in your project, you can configure the system/aspect ratio of each VTS set independently, but this guide does not cover multiple VTSs (useful for making a disc that contains both the fullscreen and widescreen versions of the same movie, for example).

DVD-lab Pro: Project Properties


The "Palette" tab allows you to configure the colour palette for the project. This refers to the colours used by things like highlights and button selects, so if you prefer to use a set of specific colours, input them here. Press "OK" to close the "Project Properties" window.

DVD-lab Pro: Palette


Now's probably a good time to save the project, so do so. Remember to save the project often.



Step 2: Loading and Preparing Assets

We will now import our movie assets into DVD-lab Pro. As mentioned at the very top of this guide, it is assumed that you already have these assets ready made, as this guide does not cover making them (but I have written a companion guide that tells you have to convert AVI files, the most common type of file, to assets usable by DVD-lab Pro - follow our AVI to a DVD Compliant MPEG-2 File Using QuEnc guide for instructions). It is also strongly recommended that you edit your video before using DVD-lab Pro, as DVD-lab Pro is not a video editor and only has basic editing functions. Also, make sure the video has the 16:9 flag set in your MPEG-2 encoder if it is anamorphic. If your source is a DVB/DVR recording in which the recorder can't set the 16:9 flag, then go to the "Tools" menu -> "Aspect Ratio Patch" to correct this after you have loaded in your asset (select the asset from the list of assets first).

Go to the "Assets" section, and right click on the blank area to select "Import" and load in your video/audio assets (or you can use drag/drop it in). Usually, the assets will be a MPEG-2 video stream (M2V) and an audio stream (AC3), so load them in here. If your video stream requires 2:3 pulldown, then DVD-lab Pro will tell you so and then open up an utility that will allow you to do so.

DVD-lab Pro: Pulldown Required


DVD-lab Pro: 2:3 Pulldown


Load in all your AV assets. Background images can be loaded under the "Backgrounds" section. The "Objects" section contains things like button images. "Plug-ins" are pre-made scripts/functions, such as region checking, audio select, and special effects. The "Clips" section allows you to load video clip assets. The "Music" section is for audio assets. And the "Images" section is for images.

DVD-lab Pro: Loaded Assets


The first thing we will do is to load our main movie (now listed under the "Video & Audio" assets" section) into the project proper. Make sure the "Movie 1" movie editor window is open (if not, from the "Project" tree view, double click on "Movie 1"). Drag and drop your main movie asset into the movie timeline of the movie editor window. Do the same with the audio track, but to the audio timeline section instead.

DVD-lab Pro: Load Assets


If your audio asset somehow has a different length to your video asset and requires an audio delay, you can right click on the audio timeline and select "Audio Delay". The little tool that opens up allows you to specify the delay in ms, with a graphical representation of the delay. The delayed audio will be saved to a new file and automatically loaded as a usable asset in the "Video & Audio" section, and also automatically replaces the audio track that you applied the delay on in the timeline.

DVD-lab Pro: Audio Delay


Time to create some chapters for the movie. This is easy to do in the movie editor. Select the "arrow" icon on the left hand side of the movie editor window, click and drag the mouse over the movie to change the position of the marker (the red line with a "+" icon on top of it), you should notice a "+" icon, clicking on this icon will add a chapter at the spot specified. Added chapter points will show up as a red mark under the chapters timeline.

DVD-lab Pro: Adding Chapters


Alternatively, you can let DVD-lab Pro automatically add chapters for you. With the movie editor window select, from the top "Movie" drop down menu, select "Auto-Chapters". This tool will scan the movie and automatically add chapters at scene changes, trying to evenly space them according to the number of total chapters you want.

DVD-lab Pro: Auto-Chapters


The way chapters work on DVDs is that they must start on an I-Frame. Basically this means that even though you have set a location for a chapter, it may begin slightly earlier because that's where the nearest I-Frame is. You can manually move the chapter points to the previous/next I-Frame using the two buttons on the side tool bar (see first screenshot below). There are also other ways around this, including setting a chapter lag - to do this, right click on any chapter point and select "Chapter Properties". Here, you can set a + or - 1 second lag. You can further improve the accuracy of chapter points by right click on the chapter timeline, select Chapter -> "Frame-Index All Chapters". This is a one time operation that will improve the chapter point accuracy up to 0.25 seconds. The chapter mark, previously red, will now turn to a green diamond.

DVD-lab Pro: Move Chapter to I-Frame


DVD-lab Pro: Chapter Properties


DVD-lab Pro: Frame Index


That's it for chapters, but still within the movie editor, there are a couple of other options. The "Skip Sections" button on the left sided tool bar allows you to skip sections of the video. This doesn't cut the video (it's non destructive), the video stream stays untouched, but playback is skipped for the marked sections.

DVD-lab Pro: Skip Sections


DVD-lab Pro: Skipped Sections


You can also trim the end of the movie if the movie happens to be too long. This is useful for removing end movie credits, for example. To do this, click on the "arrow" on the left hand side tool bar and then use the mouse to drag the marker (the red line with a "+" icon on top of it) to where you want to start the cut, and then right click within the editor window and select "Trim End". When you press the "Trim" button, a trimmed version of the current video will be produced, added to the "Assets" section and replace the currently loaded video, if you choose the two options at the bottom (otherwise, you'll have to manually do both).

DVD-lab Pro: Trim End


Last, but not least, you can add a subtitles track. Click on the "Sub 1" (below the audio timeline). This opens up the "Subtitle" window. Click on the "Import" button to import subtitle files from common formats such as .sub, .srt, .ssa, .son and .sst. For my example, I have a .srt subtitle file. There are a lot of options here that you can change, but most of them are pretty obvious. You can even edit each line of subtitles and press on the position icon to adjust the position (for example, if the screen already has text and you want to move the subtitles to the top). When you're finished with the settings, click on the "Generate Subtitle Stream" button to save the stream as a SP1 file. When the file has been generated, press "Close" to close the subtitle editor and your new subtitle track will be added to the movie. Remember that if you edit the subtitle, you need to regenerate the SP1 file for the changes to take effect in your project.

DVD-lab Pro: Subtitle


That's pretty much it for this movie. If you need to add more movies (for example, now that you've added the main movie, you need to add the extra features). Go to the "Project" tree view area, and then right click and select the "Add Movie" option. Repeat the instructions during this entire step for your new movie if needed.

DVD-lab Pro: Add Movie




Step 3: Connections

Now we get to the serious part. Menu creation is what a tool like DVD-lab Pro is all about, and why it is better than other home user based tools like Nero Vision. DVD-lab Pro is much less based on pre-made templates and much more flexible when it comes to making menus exactly the way you want.

Let's first take a look at connections. The "Connections" window should be open, but if it isn't, double click on the "Connections" tree listing in the "Project" tree view. A connection is any link between menus, content or any object. A button in the menu that can be clicked on to go to another menu page (for example, the chapter selection page) will have a connection to that other page shown in the "Connections" window. Buttons on the player's remote control/interface is another type of connection. Even automatic redirects (such as a menu automatically redirecting to the main movie after 30 seconds) is also a type of connection. The screenshot below is what the "Connections" window currently looks like (ie. pretty basic). It shows that when the disc first starts, it will go to "Menu 1". "Menu 1" doesn't actually have any outgoing links at the moment (we'll fix this later). Pressing the "Title" button on the remote also goes to "Menu 1". The main movie, "Movie 1", will go to the root menu when it finishes playback, and the root menu is currently "Menu 1".

DVD-lab Pro: Connections


I will now add a short intro clip that will play before the main menu starts. This intro clip will also be accessible from the main menu through an Easter Egg type button, just as an example of how to do these sort of things. I haven't made a clip, but I will use the one that comes with DVD-lab Pro. Go to the "Assets" section, select the "Clip" sub-section and drag the "DVD-lab" (choose NTSC or PAL, depending on which one your project uses) clip into the "Connections" window.

DVD-lab Pro: Add Clip


To make this clip the intro clip, click on the "Draw Links" button from the left hand toolbar, and draw a link between the "First Play" icon to the new clip in the "Connections" window. Then draw another link from the clip to the "Menu 1". Press the select arrow at the top of the left hand tool bar to exit the link drawing mode. And this is how easy it is to add an intro clip that displays before the main menu. Now, we will add a new menu that will become our chapter select menu. To do this, click on the "Place Empty Object" button on the left hand toolbar and click anywhere in the "Connections" window to place a new menu object (alternatively, there are a bunch of buttons on the bottom of the "Connections" window for adding new objects). Your connections diagram will get more and more complicated as you add more menus, buttons and links. Most of your links will be automatically generated as you edit menus, add buttons and place links.

DVD-lab Pro: Draw Links


DVD-lab Pro: Place New Object


You can right click on any object in the connection window and rename it to something more meaningful ("Main Menu", "Chapters Menu", "Main Movie" and "Intro Movie"). The connections should now look something like this (after I renamed everything):

DVD-lab Pro: Connections


Selecting any object and there are also some options you can change at the bottom. The "Menu Button" option refers to what happens when you are viewing this clip/menu and the user presses the menu button on the DVD player remote - you can select a menu that the player will be redirected to (for example, when the user presses the menu button during the main movie, it goes to the chapters menu instead of the main menu). You can select (SELF) to have it loop to itself (only applicable for menus). The "Self (RSM)" is an option for DVD players for which the menu buttons doubles as the "resume play" button, selecting this will allow resume to work on players that supports it, and on players that don't, it will simply act the same as "SELF"). Similarly, the "End Link" option specifies which menu will be opened when the item finishes playing, and you can even select which button will be highlighted on that menu.

DVD-lab Pro: Linking


Let's first edit "Main Menu", our main menu. Double click on the "Main Menu" icon in the "Connections" window, or the "Main Menu" entry in the "Project" tree view. This opens the menu editor.



Step 4A: Main Menu Creation

Right now, the menu is just a black screen. We will now add backgrounds, buttons and links to make it into a proper menu. Let's first take a look at the editor interface.

DVD-lab Pro: Menu Editor Interface


I've numbered some of the important functions in the interface in the screenshot above (1, 2 and 3 on the top tool bar, 4 thru 7 on the left tool bar, and 8 on the right hand properties panel). Let's go through them (we will look at some of these elements in greater detail later on, and I will refer back to the above screenshot as well):

  1. The three buttons here is for the menu simulation. The Play button opens up a control that you can use to simulate the DVD player remote control/interface. The third button, the "Follow Links" button, will specify whether links are followed when clicked on in simulation mode, to go to another menu, for example.
  2. The "Snap to Grid/Guidelines" button is essential to any image editor. This allows you to neatly align object as they will snap to the nearest grid/guide-lines.
  3. These are the routing controls. Routing controls which objects are selected next when you press up/down/left/right on the DVD player's remote control.
  4. Here are where you can create text, geometric objects. The arrow select tool at the top is the one you'll use most often.
  5. "Group Hotspot" allows you to create a hotspot for a group of objects. A hotspot is a spot that can be "highlighted" using the DVD player's controls, and group hotspots allow you to highlight more than one object at a time. For example (and we'll go through this in more detail later), you can create a button consisting of a rectangle object that is invisible by default and a text object that is visible, both grouped with a single hotspot. When this hotspot is activated, the rectangle can become visible and the text highlighted, all at the same time, so the group hotspot "highlighted" both objects at the same time as they were grouped together.
  6. A "Group Hotspot" should not be confused with a "Package". A "Package" also groups two or more objects together, but it is mainly for editing purposes (to make moving and transforming them easier). You draw a package around the menu, double click on it and then you can edit this package to add in images, objects, text ... close the package editor and you can then move/transform all the elements in the package as a single object
  7. The "Insert Chapter Still" button does one really simple job, which is to insert a chapter still into the menu - clicking on the button will allow you to select which chapter from which movie to insert the still for, useful for creating chapter select menus.
  8. The "Properties" section on the right has several panels of options to display and allow you to change each object's property. We will go through these options in more detail later on
  9. The set of dashed rectangles is the "safe areas". You should try to keep all objects within the inner set of dashed lines, as otherwise on older TVs, it may not be visible. If you've set your widescreen menu to display as pan & scan on 4:3 displays, the inner set of dashed lines will be 4:3 in shape and is the only area that will be displayed on a 4:3 screen.

I think the best way to proceed now is to present a concrete example of me creating a menu with most of the objects that you will most likely need to have in a basic menu.

We will now add a background image to the menu. From the "Assets" section, go to the "Backgrounds" sub-section and click and drag the image into the menu to make it the background image for the menu. If the image you want isn't in the "Assets" section, you have to add it to there first. You can remove backgrounds by right click on the menu editor area and selecting the "Remove Backgrounds" option. You can also add a background audio/music track to the menu if you wish.

DVD-lab Pro: Changing Menu Background Image


I will now create the "Play Movie" and "Chapter" buttons. Under the "Objects" sub-section of the "Assets" section, there are some pre-made buttons that you can use. The tab selections at the top of the list of assets ("Arrows", "Bullets", "Buttons" ...) show the different types of objects. Alternatively, you can create your own buttons from basic geometric shapes (4, in the menu editor interface screenshot above). We will do both types.

DVD-lab Pro: Objects


I will first use the "Package" button (6, in the menu editor interface screenshot above) to draw two packages, one for each button that I want to create. A new tab is added under the menu editor area - you can right click on the tab to rename the package (I've renamed it to "Play Button"). Click on the tab or double click within this package to open the package editor. I then drag two buttons from "Combo-Button" asset list into the packaged area. The "Combo-Buttons" features a button image plus a separate text object - to move both at the same time, with the arrow select tool enabled, drag an area around both objects to select both. Just make sure both objects are within the package area marked, or otherwise they won't be visible. Double click on the "Text" to change the text.

DVD-lab Pro: Package Editor


You can also change the properties of all the objects using the options on the right hand properties panel (8, in the menu editor interface screenshot above). The fill color, drop shadow, graphic effects and transparency. I won't mess around too much, except for changing the fill colour. I will also change the transparency. Using the slider is a bit imprecise, so right click on the slider to change it to the value editor, enter a value and press the enter key on your keyboard - I selected a transparency value of 100 for both text elements.

When you're finished editing this package, press the "OK" button around the top right edge of the package area, or press the "Main" tab. Notice that back on the main menu editor area, you can now drag and move the package and all the objects within it as a single object. And note the button number shown in a yellow box near the button. You can even resize it. I still need to create the "Chapter" button, so selecting the "Play Button" package, I can create a copy of it using copy/paste. Rename the copied package to "Chapter Button", edit the package and change the text. I then turn on the "Snap to Grid" option (2, in the menu editor interface screenshot above), and move both packages so they align. Now our menu looks a bit more useful.

DVD-lab Pro: Menu Progressing


We will now link the two buttons to where they are intended to go to. Right click on the "Play Movie" package, select "Link" -> "Main Movie" (our main movie) -> "Chapter 1 (Movie Start)". And that's all there is to it. Easy. Do the same with the "Chapters" button, but link to the chapters menu ("Chapters Menu", for this guide). If you go back to the "Connections" window, you'll see the newly added connections.

DVD-lab Pro: Button Linking


We also need to set a "First Button". This is the button that is selected by default when the menu first loads. We want it to be the "Play Movie" button, so right click on the "Play Movie" package and select "Set as First Button".



Step 4B: Main Menu Creation - Continued

Showing the following screenshot again here as this page refers to this screenshot again.

DVD-lab Pro: Menu Editor Interface


Go back to editing the "Main Menu". We can now test the menu by pressing the "Simulation" button (the play button at the top, 1 in the menu editor interface screenshot above). This opens up a DVD player control window that you can use to see how the menu works. If you have the "Follow Links" icon selected next to the "Simulation" button, then pressing the "Enter" key in the player control window will go to whatever object that it links to (eg. it will open the "Main Movie" movie editor window if you have highlighted "Play Movie" and pressed "Enter"). Note that the highlights are kind of an ugly shade of purple at the moment. We can change this. Stop the simulation (use the red square button next to the "Simulation" button). Select the "Play Button" package, and go to the "Properties" area on the right hand properties panel (8, in the menu editor interface screenshot above), and click on the "Map" tab. You can have up to 3 different highlight mappings on the same menu page, select "1" as the highlight group for this button - note that the colour slider at the bottom has 1, 2 and 3 as well, each corresponding to a different group. There are 3 "Color Map" settings, one for when the button is not highlighted (Normal), one for when it is highlighted (Selected) and another when it is clicked on (Activated). For "Normal", I left the "1" slider at the left most (no highlights). For "Selected", I used a light shade of green (you can click on the coloured square to change the colour to use, based on the palette selection you made way back in Step 2) by adjusting the "1" slider. For "Activated", I used the left most setting again (no highlights). Repeat for the "Chapters" button, but I used a different shade of colour by using a different highlight group (see screenshot below). Use the "Simulation" mode to test the highlights if you wish.

DVD-lab Pro: Color Map


DVD-lab Pro: Play Movie Button Highlight


DVD-lab Pro: Chapters Button Highlight


Notice how pressing up/down in the simulation gets you to the next selectable button? This is called routing, and you can actually change it. The routing settings are in the top tool bar (3, in the menu editor interface screenshot above). Currently, "Auto-Routing" should be enabled, which automatically produces the routes based on the position of the objects. To the left of the "Auto-Routing" checkbox is a drop down menu of options, select the "Show All" option. This will display all the routing information in the menu editor, either as red, green, blue or yellow arrows (indicating up, down, left and right). If you disable "Auto-Routing", then you can use the controls to the right of it to manually add in routes. For this example, I'm going to make it so that pressing the up, left or right buttons when the "Play Movie" button is highlighted will select the "Chapters" button as well. Simple use the "Draw Left Link" and "Draw Right Link" function to draw lines from the "Play Movie" button to the "Chapters" button. For the Chapters button, I'm going to make the left and bottom buttons link to "Play Movie", but the right button will do something else which I will show you later on (Easter Egg Time!).

DVD-lab Pro: Show All Routes


DVD-lab Pro: New Routes


We will now make an Easter Egg for the purpose of demonstrating how to and a few other neat tricks that DVD-lab Pro has. You know how we had an intro video? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to play this intro video without having to restart the DVD? I will now make a hidden button on the main menu that when clicked on, will go and play the intro video, thus showing you how to make hidden buttons that show up only when highlighted, and also how to make your own buttons from geometric shapes, plus group hotspots.

Select the "Rectangle" tool from the left tool bar (4, in the menu editor interface screenshot above), and draw a rectangle in the bottom right corner. Then using the text tool, I add the black text "DLP" (for DVD-lab Pro), no drop shadow and no transparency, and place the text above the grey rectangle.

DVD-lab Pro: Easter Egg Button


Now use the "Group Hotspot" tool on the left tool bar to draw a hotspot around the "DLP" button (make sure both the rectangle and text objects are within the borders of this hotspot). Right click on the newly drawn hotspot and link it to the intro video ("Intro Movie", in my project).

DVD-lab Pro: Hotspot Link


A group hotspot basically allows the user to select/highlight more than one object at a time, but with each object within the hotspot still having their own "highlight" properties. What we will do is to make it so that the rectangle only shows up when it is highlighted, so normally, the text "DLP" will be the only thing visible. Select the rectangle, but this may be hard because the hotspot is over it - you can make it easy by clicking on the "Lyrs" (layers) tab on the right hand properties panel (8, in the menu editor interface screenshot above), and select it from there. Now click on the "Link" tab (again within the right hand properties panel) and change the "Button visibility" setting to "Invisible Normal" to make it show up only when highlighted. Notice that it has now disappeared from the menu editor area.

DVD-lab Pro: Button Visibility


You can adjust the "Map" settings to change the highlight as we did previously with the "Play Movie" and "Chapters" buttons. We will also need to add a route to this hidden button. As mentioned previously, I will make it so that pressing the right button on the DVD player/remote will get to this "Easter Egg", so draw the link as required. Make sure you link from the Easter Egg button back to the regular buttons, as you wouldn't want to be stuck there by accident.

DVD-lab Pro: New Routes


Now run the simulation again, and there is now a secret button that's accessible only when you press "right" when the "Chapters" button is already highlighted.

DVD-lab Pro: Easter Egg Highlight


Before we finish off this menu, click on the "PBC" panel on the right hand properties panel (8, in the menu editor interface screenshot above). Here, we specify some properties of the menu. The "Duration" is how long the menu will be shown before it will be looped again (or the "Force Activate Btn" setting comes into effect. Since I added a background music track to this menu, the "Duration" is set to "a/v", which is the length of the audio file. The "Hi-lite Default Btn" is the same as the "Set as First Button", and the number here corresponds to the button number (the numbers shown in the yellow box near the buttons, in this example, 1 is the "Play Movie" button). The "Force Activate Btn" will force the clicking/activation of any of the buttons after the "Duration" runs out. For my project, I will change it to 1 (the "Play Movie" button), since I want the movie to automatically start after the menu background audio has finished playing.

DVD-lab Pro: PBC


And that's the main menu finished and done with. Have a look at the "Connections" window again and have a look at the new links that have been added.

DVD-lab Pro: Connections




Step 5: Chapters Menu Creation

We will now create the chapters menu. This menu will be a motion menu, with the chapter thumbnails being animated by scenes from that chapter.

Showing the following screenshot again here as this page refers to this screenshot again.

DVD-lab Pro: Menu Editor Interface


An easy way to make the chapter menus is to use the built-in "Add Scene Select" wizard that will use one of the pre-made chapter templates to make your chapter menus quickly. Access this wizard by clicking on the wizard icon at the top DVD-lab Pro toolbar, and select the "Add Scene Selection Menu" option.

DVD-lab Pro: Add Scene Selection Menu


In the new window that opens, select which template you want to use, the VTS set and movie you wish to make the chapter menu for, and what is the parent menu (the menu that links to this chapter menu, which should be the "Main Menu" for the example project used by this guide).

DVD-lab Pro: Add Scene Selection Menu Wizard


Alternatively, you can just use what you've learned from this guide so far to manually make your chapter menus. The only thing new you need to know is the "Insert Chapter Still" function (7, in the menu editor interface screenshot above). This function is quite easy to use, and it will insert a still image from the chapter stop as well as automatically link to that chapter. Remember to link all the menus together, and to link them all to the "Main Menu", and to draw the routes if you didn't use "auto-routes". You can also copy/paste elements from menus, it that helps.

DVD-lab Pro: Insert Chapter Still


Now we'll get to the fun part of making motion menus. What I want to do now is to take these chapter stills and make them animated. Each "still" will now show 10 seconds from the chapter and then loop back. What really happens is that the background to the menu becomes a movie file instead of a still picture, thus allowing for animated menus. This is now easy to do with DVD-lab Pro's built-in "Render Motion Menu" wizard, and even easier in the new version of DVD-lab Pro (previous versions required you to make an AVI file, and then encode it to MPEG-2 using third party applications - the new version has a built-in MPEG-2 encoder so no other tools are now required). Access this wizard by first going into the menu editor for the menu you wish to make into a motion menu (in my example, the Chapters menu), then click on the wizard icon at the top DVD-lab Pro toolbar, and select the "Render Motion Menu" option.

DVD-lab Pro: Render Motion Menu


In the new window that opens, the "Motion Objects" section will list the items that can be animated, which in this example should be the chapter still images. You can select each individual object (a red border will be shown around the object in the menu preview on the left) and check or uncheck the "Render this object in the final clip" option to specify whether you want to animate this object or not (by default, all objects are selected). There is a preview where you can play back a section from what will become the motion object, check the "Repeat if Shorter" option if certain objects have different length (eg. if the chapter stop is at the very end, then perhaps that chapter will be shorter than the length of the motion), and you want to make them all play with the same length, with the shorter clips being looped to get to the longer length. The "Shuffle" loop point will make the point at which the loop occurs for each object different, so you won't be visually able to tell when the loop point occurs (as opposed to every object having the same loop point, which makes it very obvious). You can even change the start point of the animation if needed, using the slider or the "Fine Scrub" tool to greater precision.

DVD-lab Pro: Render Motion Menu Wizard


DVD-lab Pro: Render Motion Menu Wizard


Under the "Global Settings and Output" section, this is where most of the options for the motion menu are selected. The "Total Clip Time" indicates how long this motion menu should last before looping (10 seconds is a good default value, anything higher will take up more space in your project - see timing diagram below). Select "MPEG-2" as the video format to forego the need to re-encode the video - set the bit-rate to somewhere between 6000 to 8000 kbps (or less if you are short on space). For the "Intro Effect" setting, you can specify one of many options - selecting the "From Top", for example, will display an intro that "drops" the two animated objects from the top of the screen (the intro will only play the first time the menu loads, and will not be part of the subsequent loops - see timing diagram below). Select how long this intro needs to be. The "Cross-fade the End for Looping" option will make the looping less abrupt by cross fading the end with the start of the next loop (see timing diagram below). When you're happy with the settings, press the "Render" button and you'll be asked where you want to save this motion menu (as a M2V file, I would save it in the same directory as where you main movie M2V file is). After a short while, the M2V file will be generated containing the motion menu. Press "Close" to close the wizard and you will get a prompt telling you that the current menu has been made into a motion menu.

DVD-lab Pro: Render Motion Menu Wizard


DVD-lab Pro: Motion Menu Prompt


DVD-lab Pro: Motion Menu Timing


You should notice at the bottom of the menu editor, the M2V file has been added as part of the motion animation for this menu. If you want to view what the motion menu looks like, you can locate the M2V file that has just been saved and play it back in your MPEG-2 capable media player.

And repeat the above steps for every chapter menu. See, it's not too hard at all. This is what my connection diagram now looks like after adding chapter menus.

DVD-lab Pro: Connections




Step 6: Finishing Up

We will now polish up the menus by adding transitions and other special effects.

Go back to the "Connections" window. If you had multiple audio tracks or a subtitle track, then you might want to have a special language/setup screen to select your audio track/subtitles. It's actually not that much different from any other menu, except when you right click on the object to do the linking, you need to choose the "Set Audio" or "Set Subtitle" option and choose one of the options plus an action after selection (eg. to return back to the setup menu, or to go to the main menu).

DVD-lab Pro: Set Subtitle


DVD-lab Pro also includes a built-in plug-in for generating an audio selection menu quickly and easily.

DVD-lab Pro: Set Audio


You can also add menu transitions. This adds an animation when going from one menu to another, to make the transition look fancier. It's strictly optional of course, but it adds a touch of class to your menus. To add transitions, you can right click anywhere in the "Connections" window and select "Transitions" -> "Generate New".

DVD-lab Pro: Transitions - Generate New


This opens up the "Create New Transition" window. First select which transition you want to create (from which menu to which other menu, obviously, make sure it is possible to go from this menu to the other menu). Select one of the transition types - the animation shown will give you an example of what the transition will look like. There is also the "Timing" settings. A and B refers to the two menus. "Hold A" refers to how long menu A will be shown in the animation before the transition beings - similarly for "Hold B". The actual transition length is specified by "Transition" (so total transition length is Hold A + Transition + Hold B). Press "Proceed" to create the transition and save it as a M2V file, and when it's done, the transition will be automatically added to the "Connections" window and will show up as a circular icon. A note about transitions and motion menus - if you had an intro effect for the motion menu, then the transition and intro might not fit well together (for example, the transition to the chapters menu will transition to a menu that has all the chapter thumbnails in place, whereas the intro to that menu will have those thumbnails coming in from the top - these two animations then aren't continuous and will look a bit weird). It's probably best to have only one of either, a transition or a motion menu, but not both unless you are sure the two effects will blend in nicely.

DVD-lab Pro: Transition


Repeat the above for every transition you want to make. Remember that if you change the menu, then you will have to generate the transition again, as it's not automatically updated. You can right click anywhere in the "Connections" window, select "Transitions" -> "Rebuild All" to rebuild all transitions.

Now you will notice on some DVDs that when you press the "Menu" button when playing the main movie, it will go back to the main menu, but instead of having a "Play Movie" button, you have a "Resume Movie" button. There is a special kind of link called "Resume" which can make this work. Placing a "Resume" link on the main menu itself will mean that the movie won't play the first time you select "Play Movie". So the solution is to create a copy of the main menu that is opened when you press the "Menu" button during a movie, which has the "Resume" button instead of a "Play Movie" button. The "Chapters" button still links to the chapters, so once you go into the chapter menus, the resume function is lost (the solution to this would then be to create a copy of all the chapters menus too, but adding a "resume movie" button to each menu page). Once you have created the copy, change the "Play Movie" link (currently linked to chapter 1, the movie start) to "Resume Movie". Go back to the "Connections" window and change the "Menu button (on remote)" setting of the main movie to point to this copy of the Main Menu (which I have named the "Resume Menu"). DVD-lab Pro should detect this kind of link structure and make your "Resume Menu" to have a "Self (RSM)" property for the "Menu button (on remote)" setting, but if it hasn't, you should change the setting for the "Resume Menu" to this.

DVD-lab Pro: Resume Movie Link


DVD-lab Pro: Main Movie Menu Remote Link


This is what my "Connections" now look like:

DVD-lab Pro: Connections




Step 7: DVD Compilation and Burning

It's finally time to compile the DVD. Save your project now if you haven't, just in case. Press the "Compile DVD" button on the top DVD-lab Pro tool bar to open up the "Compile DVD" options window. If you get a warning screen before the "Compile DVD" options window opens up, read the warnings and try and fix all problems before continuing.

DVD-lab Pro: Compile DVD Button


DVD-lab Pro: Compile DVD


You need to configure the "Output Folder" to where you want the finished DVD files to be stored. We will first generate the DVD folder on your hard-drive, test it with a software DVD player like PowerDVD or WinDVD, and then burn it within DVD-lab Pro, or another software like ImgBurn.

The "Create/Use Frame Index ..." option should be familiar, as it's the same option that was mentioned in Step 2 when we created the chapter stops, so have it enabled. The "Test Compile" option is useful, as DVD-lab Pro will replace the movie files with dummy files, so you can test the menus without having to wait too long. If you select the "Run on Background" option, you will be able to continue working in DVD-lab Pro during compilation, otherwise you will have to wait until it finishes. The "Build DVD Image File" option will create an IMG file (that can be renamed to ISO) for burning, which ensures that almost any DVD writing software will be able to burn a working DVD-Video disc (but this is probably not helpful here, as we will first test the DVD folder in a software player first, and software players don't support images directly).

Press the "Start" button to start producing the DVD files. When it has finished, test the DVD and make sure everything works. Edit and re-compile the project if it doesn't. And when you're ready to burn the project to DVD, from the "Project" menu, select "Burn DVD". This opens the "DVD-lab General Disc Recorder" program.

DVD-lab Pro: Burn DVD


DVD-lab Pro: General Disc Record


The options here are pretty standard for a DVD burner, just make sure the input folder location is correct, that you are writing to the right media type (DVD, MiniDVD or Dual Layer DVD), choose a low speed (eg. 4x), add a label, used the "Advanced" tab to add additional (non DVD) files to the disc and then Burn (with the option to create an image, for multiple burns later on). And that's it.

I hope you've enjoyed this DVD-lab Pro guide. I will try to make an advanced version of this guide that will cover topics such as VGM menus, multi-angle movies, more advanced menu connection structures and who knows what else, will be covered. So until then ...



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