Posts in Category "Encore DVD"

Changeup

I’m finally back home in San Francisco for awhile and have adjusted to one time zone for the first time in a really long time. The past few months traveling the globe and spreading the word about Production Premium CS3 have been both exhilarating and exhausting. I’ve gotten to meet so many of you in so many parts of the world I’d never expected to find myself in and see the incredible work being done with the tools we make here at the Adobe factory.

For the next few months you won’t be seeing much of me out on the road, but you will be seeing a lot more content from me online (with a 6-week hiaitus thrown in there when my baby arrives later this summer). My colleague Jason will be grounded as well as he is in the same boat (impending Fatherhood) so you’ll be seeing some of our talented Adobe colleagues like Karl Soulé presenting at the types of events you’d normally find me or Jason at.

But enough about the minutia of my professional life. In the spirit of changes and transitions, I’d like to show you how to create an animated DVD menu transition using Encore and After Effects. One of the things that makes Encore unique is its tight integration with AE, so the process here is rather simple.

What I’ll do is create a transition so that when the user clicks the “Play Movie” button on the DVD menu, the menu will animate away to black and then the movie will begin.

I’m going to use one of the menus in Encore’s Library as the example here, so you can follow along if you wish.

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The Library has loads of royalty-free content like menus, buttons, and design elements that can be easily modified, so you can do something quick like I’m doing here, or use the elements in the Library to save time when doing custom menu design. In this case we just want to see the template menus, so click on the first button on that row of buttons in the middle of the panel. That toggles the Library’s display to show only menus. By default, it shows you the menus in the General category, but you can search within any of the categories by pulling down the menu at the top of the Library Panel.

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Making sure you have the General category selected, scroll down and locate the Entertainment Menu. Double-click it and you will see it appear in the Project Panel. To load your new menu in the Menu Viewer, double-click it in the Project Panel.

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At this point you can customize the menu by, for example, changing the text by using the Text Tool along with the Character and Paragraph Panels (as I’ve done) or sending the menu to Photoshop for modification by right-mouse clicking (or cmd-clicking) the menu and selecting Edit Menu in Photoshop. But for now, let’s just take what we’ve got and create the transition. Go to the Menu menu (this always cracks me up – there’s a menu called “Menu) and select Create After Effects Composition.

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You’ll get a dialog prompting you to save your menu as a PSD which will then open up in After Effects. I recommend you save this PSD as well as the AE project you’re about to save, in the same folder as your Encore project in order to keep everything together.

After Effects will launch and create a new project for you, with a single composition that contains all the layers of your menu. Go ahead and save it.

Double-click the Comp to open it in the Composition Viewer.

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Yes, this is After Effects and not Encore — the interfaces are nearly identical . . .

At this point there are unlimited creative options as this is a standard After Effects composition. For now, we’ll do a simple transition to black using the Burn Film effect, which simulates what happens when motion picture film gets stuck in the gate and burns away. In order to have the effect apply to the all the layers in our menu, we’re going to Pre-Compose them.

Select all the layers in your Timeline, then select Layer > Pre-compose

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In the Pre-compose dialog, accept the default setting “Move all attributes into the new Composition” and click OK.

Now, apply the Burn Film effect by selecting Effect > Stylize > CC Burn Film.

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The main parameter in this effect is Burn. Click-and-drag on the value for Burn in the Effect Controls to see how it effects the menu.

One thing about this effect is that once it “burns away” the image, it reveals whatever is beneath, which is in this case nothing. In order to make this look like an actual frame of film burning away, we want white to be revealed. So let’s create a new solid layer by selecting Layer > New > Solid.

In the Solid Settings dialog, click the Make Comp Size button, and make the color white, then click OK. Then, in your Timeline, drag the new White Solid layer below the Pre-comp layer.

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There we go. Now for the finishing touches. Let’s have the image start to burn away from the area of the Play button by moving the center of the effect. Select the Pre-comp layer, then go back to the Effect Controls. Click on the name of the Effect CC Burn Film, and you will see a cross-hatch appear in the center of your Comp. Drag it to the middle of the Play button.

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Now it’s time to animate the transition. Three seconds should be about right, so select Composition > Composition Settings and in the Duration field select all the timecode and type in 300, which represents 3 seconds and 0 frames.

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When you’re done, click OK. Next, set an initial keyframe for the Burn parameter by clicking on its stopwatch in the Effect Controls, and then set its value back to 0.

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Move the Current Time Inditator (CTI) in your timeline to 2 seconds (0;00;02;00) and change the Burn setting in the Effect Controls to 100.

Select Composition > Preview > RAM Preview and see what you’ve got.

The last step will be to have the transition fade to black at the end, so make sure your CTI is back at 2 seconds and select the White Solid layer. Hit the letter T key on your keyboard to reveal its Opacity settings, and then click on the Stopwatch for Opacity to set a keyframe.

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Move the CTI to the end of the timeline and change the Opacity setting to 0. RAM Preview and here’s what you should have (click to play back):

Now, let’s get this baby over to Encore. All you need to do is click and drag the Comp from the AE Project Panel to the Encore Project Panel. This can be done by arranging the apps side-by-side, or by using the cmd-tab or alt-tab keyboard shortcuts to toggle between applications.

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You can also go to Encore’s File menu and select Adobe Dynamic Link > Import After Effects Composition, then drive to your AE project and select the comp.

Finally, let’s weave the transition into the navigation of the DVD. For this next step you’ll need to import a piece of video and put it in a timeline, and this will be our “Main Movie”. Go to your flowchart and click-and drag from the Play button in the Menu to the Main Movie timeline.

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Then set the transition for the Play button by going to the Properties Panel and clicking the Transition tab. Click on the Pickwhip (the little swirl) and drag it to the After Effects comp in your Encore Project Panel.

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You’ll see a Transition icon appear in the Flowchart, in the link from the Play button to the Main Movie timeline. To preview your navigation, right-mouse-click on the Menu and select Preview From Here. Click the Play button and watch the magic happen.

Other ways of incorporating animated transitions into your menus is to do them from one menu to the next (e.g. to transition from the Main Menu to the Scene Selection menu). With some imagination, this can be one of the most creative and fun parts of DVD creation.

Hey, would you rather see these tutorials as a podcast as opposed to written in my blog here? Please send me comments and let me know . . .

DVD 2 SWF

What I’m about to show you is one of the things in CS3 that makes people go “hmmmmm…” the first time they see it, because it’s one of the more compelling things that has come so far from the marriage of Adobe and Macromedia (and I emphasize the word yet in that sentence, just wait ‘til NAB . . .). You probably wouldn’t think of this type of thing coming from a DVD authoring tool – after all there are so many of those on the market that the one you’re using probably has more to do with your overall workflow than anything else.

While Encore stands tall amongst DVD authoring tools, it’s now got something that redefines what’s possible. You can author a DVD in Encore, and then with a click of a button output it to Flash.

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In a single authoring, you can now output to DVD, Blu-Ray, and Flash. The experience you get in Flash is identical to the experience you get on a DVD player (with the obvious exception that the video quality will be optimized for the web and thus not high-quality MPEG-2 as on a real DVD). All the video, chapter points, menus, interactivity, etc. is neatly packaged for you and published for the web. No Flash authoring knowledge or experience required.

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So – in a nutshell – you can now author interactive Flash content without having to have an iota of knowledge on how to author interactive Flash content. You can also push the DVD to the web, creating new audiences and even creating preview versions of your actual DVD for people to view online.

How about making a proof of a DVD for a client, so they can see menus, interactivity, etc without you having to bun a disc and overnight it to them?

How about taking the DVD thing out of the equation entirely and just using this to create interactive content? Encore interfaces better with Photoshop and After Effects than any DVD tool on the market, so its easy to design things in Photoshop, animate them in After Effects, add the interactivity in Encore, then publish to Flash.

There are loads of us wanting (and needing, due to client demand) to create interactive Flash content. There are few of us with the time to really learn Flash authoring. This is an early step in the concept of “Flash authoring for the rest of us” and I think it’s a great beginning.

AE to DVD

If you work with After Effects, sooner or later you’re going to have to get your beautiful AE composition onto a DVD (and if you don’t then what the heck are you waiting for???). I had to do this myself the other day and used an incredibly simple workflow in Production Studio that involved AE and Encore DVD to create an auto-playing DVD without any menus (a DVD that, when inserted into a set-top player or computer, starts playing automatically).

First, create a new project in Encore DVD. The first thing you’ll be asked is your Television standard. If you’re in North or South America (except Argentina & Brasil), Japan, the Philippines, South Korea or Taiwan it’s NTSC. For everyone else it’s PAL.

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Next, bring your After Effects comp into Encore DVD using the Dynamic Link feature. You can either drag the comp from the AE Project Panel into the Encore DVD Project Panel, or select File > Adobe Dynamic Link > Import After Effects Composition.

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If you use this menu selection, you’ll need to drive to the location of your AE project, then select the comp that you want to open in Encore DVD.

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Next, you’ll tell Encore DVD what MPEG-2 encoding settings to use. All video gets encoded to MPEG-2 for DVD and you want to use encoding settings that will make your video look its best. Start by selecting your Dynamically-Linked AE comp in the Encore DVD project panel. Then go to the File menu and select Transcode > Transcode Settings > NTSC DV High quality 7Mb VBR 2 Pass. This is a great preset for most AE work (and if you’re working in PAL you’ll see the PAL presets in that menu instead).

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If you know about encoding you can also select Edit Project Transcode Presets and create your own custom encoding settings. What the preset above means is that it will encode your video to MPEG-2 at a bitrate of 7 megabits per second, doing a 2-pass Variable Bit Rate encode. This is always a great place to start with MPEG-2 encoding settings.

Okay, now you’ll need to put your AE comp into an Encore timeline. With the Dynamically-Linked comp still selected in your Encore project panel, click on the New Item button (looks like a little page at the bottom of the project panel) and select Timeline.

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Your video (and audio if there is any in the AE comp) will now be in a timeline. Now it’s time to tell your DVD what to do after it finishes playing your AE comp. In most cases you’ll want it to stop, or maybe you’ll want the playback to loop instead. Either way, go to the Properties panel (in the upper-right hand corner of Encore’s UI) and in the End Action pulldown select either “Stop” to stop playback or “Link Back to Here” to loop playback.

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Now, click on the Disc panel, which should be nested behind the Project panel.

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You need to tell the DVD what to do if the viewer clicks the “Title” button on the DVD. Go back to the Properties panel (which now shows the properties for the disc) and in the Title Button pulldown select the first chapter of your timeline.

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Last but not least, it’s time to burn the disc. In the Disc panel click the Build DVD button and the Build DVD panel opens.

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In this panel you can give your disc a name, specify how many copies you want, then click the Build button to burn your DVD. Encore will take care of all the AE rendering and MPEG-2 transcoding behind the scenes.

Of course there is always more than one way to skin a cat. You can also Dynamically-Link your AE comp into Premiere Pro, put it in a timeline, select Window >DVD Layout, and output your DVD from there. One good reason to do it in Encore DVD, though, is if you’re thinking about adding menus or custom navigation somewhere down the line. You can use the project I just walked you through as a foundation to build on, quite easily I might add.

Mac To The Future

I’ve been a Mac user since 1988, when I bought my first Mac Plus with a whopping 1 megabyte of RAM and a 20 megabyte external hard drive the size & weight of a couple of bricks. The Mac was, more or less, the only platform I used until a few years ago when I worked at Anystream who develops only for Windows.

I love using Premiere Pro and Encore on Windows (as well as the rest of Production Studio), but I’ve always had a fondness for the Mac OS. This is why I’m personally excited, on so many levels, to be able to show you this:

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We announced today that Adobe Production Studio is coming to the Mac. That’s Premiere Pro on the Mac above, and we’ll also have Encore and the rest of Production Studio available for the Mac when we release the next version (that’s expected to ship in mid-2007).

All the features in the Windows version will also be in the Mac version (including some new ones, but it’s still too early to talk about that . . .). True cross-platform, baby. It’s the first time Premiere Pro and Encore have ever been on the Mac (of course the original Premiere had its beginnings on the Mac, but that was a completely different app than Premiere Pro) and the tight integration between all the apps in Production Studio, with features like Dynamic Link which let you drag & drop your After Effects compositions into Premiere Pro and Encore without rendering, can now be enjoyed by Mac & Windows users alike.

You gonna be at Macworld next week? Stop by the Adobe exhibit and see the first ever demos of Production Studio on the Mac, being given by the venerable Dave Helmly.

I’ll be at Macworld as well, so if you see me make me buy you a beer or something. I live here in SF and know some pretty good places to get thrown out of…

Slip Sliding Away

Okay, some days it’s hard to come up with decent headings, you’ve gotta expect that once in awhile.

My cousin Eric was asking me recently about fading out the audio at the end of a DVD slideshow. Encore DVD 2.0 has an incredibly powerful new Slideshow Editor, but it doesn’t give you the capability to do audio fades. Here’s the workflow for doing it using Audition.

1) Right-mouse-click the audio file in your Encore Project Panel, and select Reveal in Explorer.

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2) An Explorer window opens with the audio file highlighted. Right-mouse-click on the audio file and select Open With > Adobe Audition.

3) In Audition, click-drag on the last *X* seconds of the audio waveform to select it (X being the duration you’d like your fade to be — 2 or 3 seconds is a good place to start).

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4) Click on the Favorites panel (it should be in the upper-left corner of the UI, if not you can go to the Window menu and select Favorites to open it). Double click on the “Fade Out” favorite, and the fade out is applied.

5) Click to the left of the area you selected in the wafeform, and hit the Spacebar on your keyboard to play back the fade.

6) If you want to adjust the length, select Edit > Undo and repeat steps 3-5.

7) Once you’re happy with your fade-out, select File > Save and quit Audition.

Remember that editing an audio file in this fashion is destructive, i.e. the fade-out becomes a permanent part of that audio file, so it’s a good idea to make a backup copy of the original before you open it in Audidion.