Page 5 of 9: Main Menu Creation

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".



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