Page 4 of 5: Menu Creation

Step 3: Menu Creation

Click on the "Menu" button at the top to go to the menu creation area. The "Menu Wizard" should be launched immediately - if it does not launch, click on the "Launch the Menu Wizard" button on the left hand side.

TDA: Menu Wizard

The simplest way to create a menu is to select the first option to use a template - just select the template, and then choose a "DVD menu structure" and "playback settings". For this guide, we'll cover the second option, "Create a custom menu ...", which has an extra step or two that will help you make a more personalised menu. Alternatively, you can also choose to have no menus at all. The option at the bottom allows you to specify the aspect ratio of the menu 4:3 (full frame) or 16:9 (widescreen). So select "Create a custom menu ..." and press "Next" to continue/

On to the "Menu structure mode settings" page. Here, you can specify how to structure the menu. The "Create a Title Page in the Top Menu" option, when selected, creates a page that loads first and contains the option to "Play all tracks" or to select individual tracks for playback - if unselected, the first menu you see will be the track selection menu. The "Create a Title page in the Track menu", similarly, will display a menu after you select a track that gives you the "Play All" or "Select Chapters" options - if it is unselected, you will be redirected to the chapter selection screen right after selecting a track. There is also an option to create separate pages for the audio/subtitle selection, or have it all on the same page (assuming you have multiple audio/subtitles). Press "Next" to continue.

TDA: Menu Wizard

The "Custom menu creation" page is where you can get down to creating your menu. You can change the top menu's layout from a selection of pre-designed layouts - note that the top menu is the one where you select which track to play, and the track menu is the one where you select the chapters for the current track. So let's say you have 3 tracks, then you might want to select a top menu layout that can show 3 items on the same screen. And let's say you have lots of chapters, then perhaps you would select a track menu that shows as many chapters on the same screen as possible. The "green square" with the number in them is where the picture/animated thumbnail will be - otherwise, you can select one without the green squares which will only show the text title of the track/chapters. The rest of the options ("Navigation buttons", "Thumbnail frame" and "Background") allows you to use different sets of pictures for the menu template you've chosen - choose them as you see fit (you can always change them, or add in your custom background images/video later on). Press "Next" to continue.

TDA: Menu Wizard

The next page is the "DVD menu structure" page (you will see this page as well if you selected to use a template). Most of the time, just leave the setting on "Automatic", but you might choose to not have a chapter select menu (track menu) or to only have a chapter select menu, without the track selection screen (some DVD players will have problems with this if you have multiple tracks, and no track selection screen). If you have multiple tracks, each with chapters, then the "Automatic" setting will automatically choose the third option, "Top and track menu", which will create a track selection screen and chapter selection screens for each track. Press "Next" to continue.

TDA: Menu Wizard

Finally, the "DVD playback settings" page (you will see this page as well if you selected to use a template) allows you to choose the actions that the DVD player should take when it first loads the disc and when it finishes playing a particular track. The options you see here depend on your other menu options and on how many tracks you have. If you have multiple tracks and a top menu, you should see a screen similar to the one below. The options are all fairly obvious, but the option that commercial DVDs use for multi track DVDs is "Display the top menu" for both settings. Press "OK" to end the menu creation wizard.

TDA: Menu Wizard

Back to the main menu editing screen, click on the "Global menu options" button on the left hand side. These options will affect every menu in your current project - you can have different settings for each menu if you prefer. The first page (General) shows some of the options we just went through in the menu wizard. Click on the "Chapter display" tab, and here you can change, for each track, which chapters will be displayed in the chapter selection menu (when you created chapters, there was an option to not show the chapters in the menu, which has the same function).

TDA: Menu Settings - Chapter Display

Click on the "Item display" tab and here, you can choose which menu items will be displayed.

TDA: Menu Settings - Item Display

Click on the "Motion menu" tab and here, you can choose whether to add motion or background music to all your menus. Motion refers to the thumbnails (showing the first specified seconds of video in the thumbnail), background images/videos (eg. fade in/out effects) and other pictures being animated. If background audio is selected, you will have the further option to add a background sound/music track when editing each menu later on. If you selected a motion menu, you will have the option to specify the number of seconds of motion the menu will show before it stop or loops back to the beginning (depending on if you select the "Loop menu/audio" option or not). Remember to keep an eye out on the size of your project by looking at the size bar on the bottom, because motion menus can take up quite a lot of space. You can also enable/disable animation for the different types of motion elements, thumbnails, background images or other pictures. Remember that these settings will apply to all the menus, so if you do not wish for all the menus to be animated, you can leave animation off here and then enable them for each individual menu later on.

TDA: Menu Settings - Motion Menu

Click on the "Highlights" tab, and here, you can specify what the highlight colors will be. A highlight is when you move the navigational cursor over an element (eg. a chapter in the chapter select menu), and that element will turn a shade of a particular color you select here. The "Activated" color is when you actually click on the item, and then the item will be highlighted with another color. There are also some highlighting shape settings you can configure (eg. the "frame" option will display a frame around the element, instead of highlighting the entire element).

TDA: Menu Settings - Highlight

And finally to the "Output" tab, where you can specify the encoding options for the menu. You can decrease the "Video bitrate" to decrease the file size of the menu, but at the cost of quality. Similarly, you can decrease the audio bitrate if your menu has background audio. Press "OK" to close the global menu settings window.

TDA: Menu Settings - Output

Back to the main menu editing screen again, you should now see the structure and the individual pages of your menu shown, both using the menu tree browser on the left hand side, and actual thumbnails of the menu pages in the main section. At any time, you can click on the "Simulation" button at the top to preview the menu structure - some things like animations and effects won't be shown, unfortunately.

TDA: Menus

Note that each menu will have a "menu settings" button (eg. "Top menu settings", "Track 1 menu settings" ...) button that you can click on and override the global menu settings for each individual menu (eg. some menus to have animation, other not to). Select the "Use local settings ..." option at the top to enable the changes.

TDA: Local Menu Settings

If you double click on any menu pages, it will enter the editor mode where you can change each item on the page individually - you can right click on the background or each item to access editing options for the background/item or double click on them to open their properties. Just below the main area are some controls that allow you to go to the previous/next page. To the right of those, you have several options to help with editing, such as display/snap to grid, show all the directional links (more on this later on). The "TV" button is of interest because it shows you the overscan area (inner and outer set of dotted lines) - older TVs use overscan, which basically enlarges the images in order to prevent a black border from showing up - even though new TVs won't suffer from this, it is still best to ensure all your menu elements are within the inner set of dotted lines.

TDA: Edit Options

If you want to add a text or picture element to a page, right click on the page entry in the left menu tree browser and select the "Add a Text item" or "Add a Picture item" option.

If you have lots of menu pages and you want them all to have the same font/effects/music, then you can make it easier on yourself and edit all the menus at the same time as opposed to editing each one individually. To do this, right click on any track of page on the left hand side menu tree browser and select one of the "Change ... for all menus" options.

TDA: Change All Menus

If you selected the "Change fonts for all menus" option, you should see the following screen, which as expected, allows you to change the font used in all the menus.

TDA: Font Editor

If you selected the "Change effects for all menus" option, then here you can apply effects to all the menus, such as fade in/out, blur, rotation ...

TDA: Menu Effects

If you selected the "Change background and audio for all menus" option, then you can upload your own background picture/video, audio and add effects to the background image (eg. fade in/out). You can upload AVI/DivX and other video files to use as the background, as well as just plain still images - but remember that the motion menu settings you change earlier specified a duration for the motion menu - if your audio or video file exceeds this duration, it will be cut off or looped back to the beginning.

TDA: Menu Background

If you select a page and click on the "Link editor" button at the top, you can edit the directional links (what happens when you press the up/down/left/right buttons on your DVD player's remote control). For example, in the screenshot below, it shows that the "play" button is "linked" to several other items when you press the up/down/left/right cursor on the DVD player remote/controls. If you are creative, you can create your own DVD easter eggs by creating an item that is invisible or appears to be part of the background, which can then be "linked" here.

TDA: Link Editor

Basically play around with your menu layout, add different effects, pictures, text, until you are happy with the result. Remember to save often. Once done, press the "Simulation" button at the top, and then the "Start" button on the playback console to preview your menu (unfortunately, without animation/effects) and your DVD video. Make sure to test chapters, navigation, audio/subtitle selection, just like you would on a real DVD.

TDA: Simulation



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