Step 3: Creating Menus
Now we get to the meaty part of EasyDVD. EasyDVD includes a few menu templates you can use to quickly create menus, but for the purpose of this tutorial, we'll create a menu from the grounds up, just to provide instructions on the basics. For the example used by this tutorial, there will be a main menu where you can select to play the movie, go to the chapter menu, or go to the bonus features menu. There will be two chapters menus to host the 12 chapter points (6 on each page), which links to each other as well as back to the main page. And then there's the bonus menu, which links to a featurette, and as well as back to the main page. Let's first have a look at the layout of the menu editing area.
The aspect ratio controls the aspect ratio of the menu, which can be independent of the aspect ratio of the movies. The background image/audio buttons allow you add these elements to the menu. The media list provides you with a list of available background images/video, audio files and button frames, with a "tick" button that allows you to apply the media to the current menu (for example, apply background to the current menu, or to add the selected frame to all buttons in the menu). The menu pages area provides you a list of the menu pages you've made so far, with the first one being "page 1", second being "page 2" ... The menu page controls allows you to create new pages, delete existing ones, and even clone pages for quick menu creation. We'll use all of these tools to create our menu.
First, select the aspect ratio of the menu, in most cases, that would be the default 16:9 widescreen menu, but make sure you select either PAL or NTSC depending on the system of your movie/DVD. The first menu we'll create is the main menu. In the menu page controls area, find the "Add blank menu" button and click on that to create our first page. It is blank now (or rather, white), so let's first apply a background image. From the media list, go to the background image/video list section, here EasyDVD provides some readymade backgrounds that you can use, or you can add in your own background images and even videos using the "+" import button. For the purpose of this guide, we'll just use one of the available background images, click on it to select it and then press the "tick" to apply the background to the current menu page (please note that if the background doesn't change, then select another image, press the "tick" and then try your original image again). Once the background options are finalized, any new pages you create will use the same background elements, so now let's create 3 other pages (2 for chapters, 1 for bonus features). You can't rename or label the pages, so page 1 will be our main menu, page 2 will be the bonus features menu page, and 3 and 4 will be the two chapter selection menu pages.
Now that we've got our 4 pages, albeit incomplete, we're going to take a step backwards and go back to the "Source" section, so click on the "Source" button at the top to go there. Select the icon for the first play studio logo trailer, right click on it and select the "End Action" option, and select "Page 1", which is our main menu. This is to just make sure that the main menu is the first that's displayed after the first play trailer. Also set the end actions for the other movies (although they can be overridden elsewhere later on), I've set the main movie's end action to "page 2" (bonus), and the featurette to also end to page 2.
Go back to the "Menu" section. Let's first add a text title to the main menu page (page 1), the text being the title of the movie, so select the main menu page and right click on the main menu editing area and select the "Insert a text" option.
A text box will now show up and type in your text here. Click outside of the text box to finish editing, and then click on the text again. This opens up the element editor, where you can adjust the font for this text item. There are also controls to center the text horizontally or vertically, or you can simply drag the text box around to the desired location. The font size can be adjusted here as well, or you can drag the edges of the text box to the desired size. There are also linking and highlighting options for this element that can be controlled here, but these options are currently disabled as the current element does not link anywhere.
Now that our title is done, let's create the three buttons that links to the main movie, the chapter selection menu and the bonus features menu. You can simply create three text elements which we can then link to, or the easier option is to right click on the main editing area and select "Insert a button". This opens up the menu button properties window, which we can use to create the button. First, select where the button links to - since I'm creating the "Play Movie" button, I will link this button to the "Main Movie". Select the "Text" button style and enter in "Play Movie". The "End Action" and "Play Sequence" we'll come back to, as it's not too important for this current button. Press "OK" to create this button and change the font/size/location as needed. Since this button (or really just a text element with a link) has a link, the previously mentioned "Highlight" button is now enabled, and so click on it. This opens up the "Set button highlights" window. You can select the highlight style, either as an underline for the text, or a rectangular box, or even mask. There's also the transparency of this highlight, as well as the colour, and to ensure consistency, you can select to apply the changes to all buttons on the current page, or to all buttons on every page (recommended to ensure consistency).
Right click on the "Play Movie" button, and most of the button options, like highlights, can also be accessed from here. What we do need to select is the "End Action", which is what will happen after someone clicks on this button and plays the content in question. I prefer to skip the bonus features page after the main movie ends, so here, I would select "page 2" as my end action.
Now create the "Chapters" button which links to page 3. And then create the "Bonus" button that links to page 2. If you want to ensure the same font/size is being used, you can simply select the existing "Play Movie" element, and copy/paste it onto the page (right click on the element to select copy/paste, or use the Ctrl-C/V keyboard shortcuts - you may need to left click on the main menu editing area after selecting the page before you can paste the element in there). Double click on the copied button to change the text, and don't forget to change the link and end action for these copied elements (if the element links to a page, like the bonus/chapters buttons, then the end action should be "continuous play". Now that we've got three buttons, you'll need some way to line them up unless you're going for the random look. To align the buttons, drag your mouse so that all three buttons are selected and right click on the button that you wish to align to the other buttons to, select the "Layout control" option, which should open a sub-menu full of alignment and size options. Remember that if you do make a mistake, you can use the undo/redo buttons to the right of the main editing area (or Ctrl-Z/Y) to undo/redo the changes. You can now also use the layout controls to center the page title (the title of the movie that we first created).
While it's still a bit early for our menus to be called complete, you can at any time go to the "Preview" section (using the button at the top) to test out your menu. And don't forget to save your project often.
Let's create the bonus features page, or page 2. Click on the second page in the page preview area, and add in the text title "Bonus" for the page (if you want the same font/size as the title on the main menu page, then you can use copy/paste again), and use the layout controls to center the text if needed. Follow the instructions in creating the other buttons and create a "Featurette" button to link to the featurette. Again, copy/paste is great here because it even keeps the position of the buttons, so it makes designing a consistent menu easier. And don't forget to change the end action (I chose "page 2", so that when the featurette finishes playing, it goes back to the bonus menu page). For the button highlights, if you didn't select the option to apply the highlights to all buttons on all pages, then you need to set them here again. On this page, we'll also need to create a link back to the main menu page, so create a new button called "Main Menu" and link that to page 1 - I used a different colour for the text to make it look more interesting. Here's what my "page 2" looks like:
Let's create the chapters page. After creating the "Chapters" page title, I also copied/pasted over the "Main Menu" button from the bonus page to both the chapters pages, so that they would all have links back to the main menu page as well. We also need to link page 3 to page 4, and vice versa, so that the viewer can skip to the next/previous chapters page. The easiest way, and to ensure consistent design for me, was to copy/paste the "Main Menu" button and replace the text/link appropriately ("Next >" for page 3, and "< Prev" for page 4). Don't forget to use the layout control to align the buttons.
Now we will create the selectable chapter buttons, which will actually be motion images playing clips of the movie from that particular chapter. You might just settle for stills though if you don't have much space left on your DVD, as motion menus take up a bit of space. Again, we choose to insert a button, and link that to the first chapter. The "End Action" should be "None", but if you were to change the end action to say page 1, then this means that it will play the currently selected chapter and then skip back to the main page after it is done. You can also then select the "play sequence", to select how many chapters to play before referring to the end action. Creative use of this allows you to create buttons that, for example, only only selected chapters, making a "choose your own adventure" type DVD movie/game possible. Of course, none of this is what we want for the chapter selection buttons, so keep the end action as "None" which will disable the "play sequence" options. For the "Button style", instead of using "Text", we can use the "Frame" option to make the button a frame still (or motion frame) from the actual chapter. Alternatively, you can use your own images. You may want the frame to have a text just below it to indicate which chapter it is, or you can remove the text to make it a button only. That's the button for the chapter 1 created. To create the second button for chapter two, I prefer to use copy/paste again, and then when the button is selected, the element properties window that pops up allows you to change the chapter link (the frame still will be change automatically). Now repeat for all the chapters, and use everything you've learned so far, like the layout control, to make everything look right. For the first chapter page, I created 6 buttons (I have 12 chapters, so 6 on each page).
If you want to make these buttons animated, that is to show the first few seconds from the chapter in which they point to, then it's as easy as checking the "Motion Menu" checkbox just above the main editing area, and then setting the duration of the motion menu to the right of that. Use the Preview section to see what the motion menu looks like.
Now repeat the same for page 4 (the second chapter page). Again, copy/paste is your friend, and don't forget to make the menu a motion one if that's what you want. Here's what my chapters menus look like:
My menus are now complete. If you really like your design, you can use the "Save as template" button in the menu page controls (the area where you click on the buton to create new pages, the right most button) to save this menu template for later use. Now is also the time to go to the Preview section and fully test your menus fully, especially all the end action stuff, and if they all work as expected, save your project.