Creating button templates, menus, and a chapter index automatically with DVD Studio Pro

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Have you ever had a huge DVD project come across your desk that you just knew was going to be a nightmare to author? One of the most tedious things to author in DVDSP is creating chapter index menus with links to all the various chapters within a project. If you’ve ever had a multi-hour long video with dozens of chapters, creating chapter index menus can take hours and be extremely frustrating, especially if you make a mistake or there are changes after the fact.

Well, fear no more, there is actually a function built right into DVD Studio Pro that will create a chapter index for you automatically! All you need to do is either use one of DVDSP’s pre-made templates or easily create a template of your own then drag and drop; all the menus, buttons, text, and links are automatically created and set.

In this 2 part tutorial I’ll first show you how to make custom buttons, complete with video/image drop zones, that can be saved and inserted into any other menu. Part 2, coming later, will demonstrate how to incorporate those custom buttons into a custom menu, save it as a template, then create an entire 24-chapter index with one drag and drop.

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Cinema 4D Top 5 Advancement Recap Update 2009 Part 2 of 17

No longer do I have my routinely standard nightmares about homeless people dressed as clowns doing dental work on me at the bottom of the ocean while being chased by radioactive super sharks. No folks, they have been replaced by nightmares of what I’m doing in Cinema 4D! Wait, maybe nightmare isn’t the right word. Maybe I mean dream, yeah, dream is the happy one, right? Sorry to potentially mislead you with the whole nightmare thing. I’m actually having decently pleasant dreams about my future in the 3rd dimension. For those of you who possibly read my first post on getting started with Cinema 4D without any previous morsels of knowledge of any 3D program, this is simply a followup of some of the progress I’ve made, and whether or not I’m on my way to be working on Pixar’s next one-word-titled movie, or if I failed horribly resulting in an enormous amount of embarrassment causing irreversible damage to my relationships of my family and friends.

So as the title obviously states, here is an update of my top 5 recaps of advancements I made in Cinema 4D during 2009. This is part 2 of 17 posts I will periodically make throughout my life time. Part 17 will come on my deathbed, and will focus on trying to do a pre-visualization of my upcoming funeral. I expect my last words before I die to be something in the area of “god damn these splines!”

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Live Previews with Zaxwerks ProAnimator

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Zaxwerks ProAnimator plug-in for After Effects is a great tool for creating 3D object animations right inside After Effects. We use it all the time for text and logo animations, animated background elements, and  various other elements.

Recently a project came across my desk that called for an intricate and precise animation of an airplane flying across a globe. The graphic was supposed to be your typical red line that traces itself across a globe hopping from country to country. A job for ProAnimator? Yes. Was there a catch? Yes.

The problem I faced even before I started was that as far as I knew there was no way to preview custom layer maps in the ProAnimator interface. I was going to have to create the globe and then animate its rotation precisely to the points that the “airplane” was supposed to travel to at the precise times. By default ProAnimator displays a generic place-holder image on your objects when you apply layer maps to them, you can’t preview the actual layer map within ProAnimator. This would obviously make for a lot of tedious trial and error when trying to precisely rotate the globe to specific countries.

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Cut It Out!

Ah, the words of Dave Coulier have never resonated stronger in my life than in recent days. Sure there were times on the playground in 4th grade when Full House lingo may have been more frequent, but not until I started editing did I consider Uncle Joey’s catch phrase to become a way of life. In a situation where a nice After Effects sequence or a Motion graphic project could jazz up a portion of a video that needs a little jazzing, I look to my go-to secondary editing program: Photoshop.

You could say that I’m not skilled enough in After Effects and Motion to utilize them enough so I resort to Photoshop. Well, that would be mean to say, and you know what, I think your shirt is ugly and you have poor taste in restaurants. I like to think that I use Photoshop in a good enough way that it could be the program I look to for sprucing things up, just by cutting up and rebuilding photos. So despite what my Dad insists, Photoshop can be used for more than eliminating red eye in pictures of his dog.

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Entering the Third Dimension!

Have you ever seen one of those movies where the kid from Montana, fresh off the farm, goes to Hollywood because he has dreams of becoming an actor, because he was the best actor in his 75 student high school’s rendition of West Side Story? Then he gets to Hollywood, with his suitcase and his cowboy hat, and he’s walking down the street wide eyed and astonished at all the bright lights and weird people that inhabit the area, and he doesn’t know what to do with himself or where to begin? Well, I feel like that farm boy, except instead of going to Hollywood I’m using Cinema 4D, and instead of seeing freaks everywhere, I’m looking at complex menu screens and lots of buttons that I have no idea what they do. I mean, look at this interface, it’s scary for someone with no background in 3D to open this program!

A decision was made by the high council of elders, at their shrine resting on the peak of the volcano, that I would be the chosen one to learn how to use a true 3D program. But I have no experience whatsoever in this area. This is my first job in this industry out of college, and to be honest, I didn’t even use something as basic as Photoshop a single time while I was in college! Let’s just say the most experience I had working on 3D was when I watched WALL-E a couple months ago. So I was nervous at the thought of learning this program, but at the same time excited at the possibility of what I could potentially do. I suppose the purpose of this post is to show you what it’s like to first delve into a 3D program if you have no idea what you’re doing, and possibly how it’s not as scary as one may think.

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Inspired Editing – CHIFCPUG Presentation Video

Have you ever been fear stuck while looking at an empty timeline, with no idea where to start? Are you sometimes creatively challenged and questioning your career choice? Have you ever wanted to learn how to fly a plane? If you answered yes to the first two questions, this post is for you. I can’t help with the third one.

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