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Hands On | 07 Creating a DVD Overlay for Motion Menu Design

The art of DVD menu design is an evolving practice. One of its most enjoyable aspects is the creation of motion menus. These can give your DVD a truly polished look. Motion menus will often use a black & white (or subpicture) highlight layer. This layer is used to signify overlays that will be placed over the motion background when a button is highlighted.

Creating buttons for a motion menu can be a time consuming task, figuring out the highlights, complex selection techniques, and getting the perfect edge. Unless you do it the east way! This tutorial will show you two approaches that work very well for both Adobe After Effects and Apple's LiveType. You can adapt the techniques to work with other motion graphics software as well.

You'll find Exercise 07 on the DVD-ROM.

PRO file Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell is a well-established creative director who has completed Avid's Master Editor Workshop. Not content to just cut and dissolve his way through a timeline, Mitchell is a big fan of graphic-rich videos. Before he co-founded his own company, Greg worked as a producer/editor for a full-service production facility.

"It's funny to think how I used to long for the green grass over at the big post houses in town. Hearing about those cool boxes with names like Flame, Smoke, Flint, etc., used to make me all warm and fuzzy inside," said Mitchell. "I love compositing - 'going vertical' as I like to call it - stacking track upon track, layer upon layer. Using all sorts of crazy plug-ins, transfer modes, and processors to rack focus back and forth through gooey glowing layers of all sorts of what-have-you... yum. I often felt compelled to outsource stuff just to get that high-end look that my clients expected, because that's what they saw on TV every night."

Fortunately the current crop of digital tools allows Mitchell to produce a high-end look right from his desktop.

"I have always been fairly comfortable mixing it up (Photoshop and Avid have always been a match made in heaven). But it has not been until the past few years that a technology has existed that really allows the two worlds to integrate so seamlessly (and affordably!)," said Mitchell. "With the advent of the 'Holy Trinity' (Photoshop, After Effects and Avid or similar NLE), all of a sudden I've got my own little incendiary device that's warming me up just fine. Photoshop is no longer just a high-end title generator for my NLE. It's now the springboard for some pretty wild creativity in the edit suite."

Although most of Mitchell's work is

only for the small screen, he cautions against building graphics at low-resolution. He says that higher resolution graphics allow more flexibility in compositing and for dealing with client requests.

"I develop all graphics using Illustrator and Photoshop, making sure that the art is vector or at least very big (e.g., 300 dpi). Even if you're only creating some elements for video that don't need to be any bigger than 720x540 pixels, you would be surprised how often your client will ask you to 'send me those graphics you made for the video so I can make an 8x6 ft. banner out of it,'" said Mitchell. "Once you're happy with your design, just make some copies and dumb them down for video. 720x540 - 72dpi, flatten the image with an alpha channel, and you're ready to import and edit."

Mitchell says he relies heavily on Avid's ability to import layered Photoshop files with alpha channels intact. He will frequently animate right within the Avid to take advantage of its ability to sync audio. He says his emphasis on graphics to complement his stories is essential to meet clients' demands.

"If you are not interested in expanding your craft beyond classic video editing, you may soon be facing some fierce competition in the marketplace (if you're not already)," said Mitchell. "Though forever a staple of video editing, cuts and dissolves alone just don't cut and dissolve it anymore. At least not with the clients I've been working with. The most successful editors these days are the ones who are just as comfortable working in a graphics program as they are in their NLE."

Greg recently co-founded JuiceBox Design Communications, Inc. in 2001 (www. juiceboxdc.com). A company founded and operated by creatives, it's like an agency, only without all the suits.

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