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This chapter is from the book

Customizing Menus

The design themes built into iDVD look great and, in some cases, sound great, too. But you might prefer to not use off-the-rack designs for your DVDs.

Maybe you’d like to have a custom background screen containing your company logo or a favorite vacation photo. You might like the background image of a particular iDVD theme, but not its music or its buttons’ shape or typeface. Or maybe you’d just like to have the title of the menu at the left of the screen instead of centered.

You can customize nearly every aspect of your DVD’s menus and navigation buttons. With the Buttons pane and the Menu Info window, you can modify buttons, add and remove background audio, change a menu’s background image, and more.

You can also create text labels—for example, some instructions for DVD newbies or a few lines of commentary about the DVD’s subject.

iDVD almost provides too many customizing capabilities. You can even have a different shape and style for each button on a menu. As with all design tasks, restraint is a virtue. Have fun with your menu designs, but don’t lose sight of the menu’s main purpose: to provide convenient access to your DVD’s contents.

Moving Items Around

Normally, iDVD positions buttons on a fixed grid. This keeps them lined up nicely, but you can also manually specify a button’s location—perhaps to line it up with a custom background image.

When you drag a button or other object, iDVD displays positioning guides to help you align items. (You’re free to ignore these guides.) If you want to return to the fixed grid, click the Inspector button, then, in the Menu Info window, click Snap to Grid.

Changing Menu Durations

You like a particular motion menu but you don’t want to use all of it. Maybe you don’t need all eight drop zones in the Reflections themes. Just shorten the menu’s duration. Go to the Menu Info window, then drag the Loop Duration slider until the menu is the desired length.

This technique works best with themes that don’t have background music, so either choose a theme that lacks music or delete the music (see page 270).

Adding Text

To add descriptive text, captions, or instructions to a menu, choose Add Text from the Project menu (command.jpg-K). A text area appears; drag it to the desired location, then click within that text area, and type. To start another line, press Return.

To format the text, choose a font and size from the pop-up menus that appear below it, or use the Inspector window; see the opposite page.

Kill the Watermark

iDVD displays the Apple logo watermark on each menu screen. To get rid of it, choose Preferences from the iDVD menu, click the General button, and then uncheck the Show Apple Logo Watermark box.

Staying TV Safe

TV sets omit the outer edges of a video frame—a phenomenon called overscan. To make sure buttons and other menu elements will be visible on TV sets, choose the Show TV Safe Area command in the View menu, and avoid putting buttons or other elements in the shaded area.

Changing the Background Image

To change the background image of an iDVD menu, simply drag an image into the menu area. For the best results, be sure to use a photo with proportions that match your project’s aspect ratio: 4:3 for standard television or 16:9 for widescreen or HD television. You can ensure these proportions when cropping in iPhoto: from the Constrain pop-up menu, choose 4 x 3 (DVD) or 16 x 9 (HD).

If you replace the background on a theme that has a drop zone, the drop zone remains. To remove drop zones after replacing a background, go to the Menu Info window and uncheck the Show Drop Zones and Related Graphics box.

Want a plain white background? You can download one from You can also make your own patterned or solid-colored backgrounds in a program like Photoshop Elements. Create a graphic with dimensions that are 640 by 480 pixels (854 by 480 pixels for widescreen), save it as a JPEG image, and then drag it into iDVD.

If your project contains several menus, you can apply one menu’s custom design to other menus in the project; see page 271.

And, if you decide you’d rather just have the theme’s original background, simply drag the custom background’s image thumbnail out of the Background well (above the Loop Duration slider) in the Menu Info window.

Customizing Button Shapes

To change a button’s shape, select it and display the Buttons pane.

You can also control the size of the buttons by dragging the Size slider.

Changing Button Text Labels

When you choose a button shape, your buttons consist of text labels and little thumbnail images or movies. In the Button Info window, you can change where a button’s text labels appear in relation to the button’s thumbnail image.

To add a soft shadow to some text, select the button or label and click the Shadow box.

Each button style has its own style of highlight, which appears when a user selects the button. To change the highlight color, click the Highlight Color well.

You can also change the font, font color, and type size for button text and for the menu’s title and any text you’ve added. If you don’t like the results, choose the Undo command as many times as needed to get back to where you started.

To return the buttons to the theme’s style, select them and choose Advanced > Reset Object to Theme Settings.

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