Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Apple > Audio & Video

Customizing iDVD Themes

  • Print
  • + Share This
Want to break free of the iDVD pre-set themes and create your own disc menu screen for your DVD masterpiece? With new features and options, iDVD 5 makes it easier than ever to create professional-looking DVDs. From choosing background music to creating your own screen layout, Jaemi Loeb will help you take the best of what iDVD has to offer and make it distinctly yours.
Like this article? We recommend

For more information on video editing or iLife topics, visit our Digital Lifestyles Reference Guide, our Macintosh Reference Guide, or sign up for our Digital Lifestyles Newsletter

You've got that home movie edited and discovered the secret powers of iMovie, but now what? How do you make a DVD your own in iDVD? The answer is simple – customize the theme.

When you create a new project in iDVD 5, the first thing you are confronted with is the first disc menu theme in the list of pre-sets: called Travel Cards. With its empty-looking slide show waiting to be filled and the vaguely tribal theme music that you can't easily turn off, the Travel Cards theme may not be how you want to start your corporate training DVD or your son's wedding memories.

But, lucky for you conveniently tucked, in the lower left corner of the iDVD window is a square button labeled Customize. It's easy to miss, but it is probably the most important button in the whole program. When you click the Customize button, a drawer appears on the left side of the window with lots of useful options.

The first tab, at the top of this drawer, called Themes, is where you can , shockingly enough, choose a new theme. In iDVD, a theme is a bundle of settings including a background, music, fonts, button placements, and so on, which make up the look and feel of the disc menu on your new DVD. It's the first thing a viewer will see when they put your DVD in their player and it's the place they'll come back to in order to change chapters or select a different movie. So, yeah, it matters.

Just above the list of themes is a drop-down menu that lets you choose which group of themes you'd like to view. If you are a veteran iDVD user, leaving this drop-down menu on 5.0 Themes is probably the most helpful, since it will only give you a list of the newest themes. If you're just starting out, I suggest selecting the All option and looking through the plethora of themes that have been developed for iDVD over the years. Most of the new themes are quite professional looking, but some of the older themes, like Postcard or Kids Theater, are somewhat limited to use for home movies. iDVD 5 comes with added music for old themes, so don't be surprised if the silent theme you used to love in iDVD 4 is no longer quite so silent. Speaking of music, you may notice that much of the pre-set music is, well, a bit grating on the ear.

To choose your own music, such as a song from your son's wedding reception or your corporation's theme song, click on the Media tab at the top of the customization drawer.

When the drop-down menu reads Audio, you'll have full access to your entire iTunes library. iTunes is the only audio that you have access to from this pane, but you can always drag audio files from a Finder window into the main iDVD window. You can search your iTunes library in the Audio pane either by scrolling or by using the search box. When you find the song you're looking for, all you have to do is click Apply and that song will become the background music for your disc menu. The Play button to the left of the search box gives you the chance to preview music before making your final decision, but that's all, so remember to click Apply to set your background music.

The second option in the drop-down menu of the Media pane, Photos, gives you access to your iPhoto library. As in previous versions of iDVD, this pane lets you drag photos from your library into the various drop zones in your DVD disc menu, such as the background or slideshow panes. Like the Audio menu, you only have access to your iPhoto library here, so images not in your iPhoto library will have to be dragged from a Finder window. This is a bit more difficult than dragging and dropping audio files, since you have to make sure that the picture finds one of the smaller drop zones and doesn't become the background (unless, of course, that's what you want). I've personally found that it's a lot easier to get a photo to go where I want it to when taking it from the Customize pane.

New to iDVD 5 is the Movies option, located in the media drop-down menu. Like dragging and dropping photos, I have found that dragging and dropping movies from Finder windows is hard to control and I often need several tries before my movie goes where I want it to. While this option is still open (and probably handy for people who keep movies in places other than the Movies folder under their user account), I vastly prefer the new library palette method. Now that I don't have competing windows impeding my view of my nascent DVD project, the movies go exactly where I want them to, whether in the background as a selectable chapter, or in a drop zone as a preview image. Don't be fooled by the upper pane of this customize view—the only folder that your palette is drawn from is the Movies folder under the current user account. You can't choose another folder and iDVD won't find iMovie files, wherever they may be on your computer. So, as seems to be the norm for iDVD, this option is best if you keep all of your movies are in your Movies folder.

So, now you've chosen images and background music for your disc menu and added the various movies/chapters you want to access from that menu. How do you change the layout or the font of the menu or turn off the background music? That's where the Settings tab of the customize drawer comes in.

The first slider you will notice under the Menu heading, Duration, adjusts the length of the audio clip used as background music and the length of any movie clips used as previews on your disc menu. The slider defaults in most themes to about thirty seconds. Short and repetitive backgrounds on a disc menu can be a bit grating, so I highly recommend moving the slider up to one or two minutes, allowing the viewers of your DVD to hear most of a song, or at least have time to ponder and choose a chapter before the menu repeats itself.

Under the Duration slider, you will notice two image boxes labeled Background and Audio. These are both second chances to alter the respective elements of your DVD disc menu. You can drag any image or movie file into the Background box and any audio file into the Audio box and each will take up a position as background image and music, respectively. You can also choose to turn off background music, by clicking the little speaker icon in the Audio box. As shown, the background music is off, when the volume is on, and the icon has the familiar volume arcs like those that indicate system volume on the Finder menu bar.

The next section of this pane, Text, is fairly self-explanatory. Under this heading, you can alter all of your text settings including justification (called position), font, size, and color. The default is always From Theme for the color menu, but the Font and Position menus also get their defaults from theme settings. Font size can be altered with the provided slider, which scales the font in the main window in real time, making it very easy to choose exactly the right size for your project. Most font-style type options are determined in the Font drop-down menu, as each font has several versions like bold and italic. But, you can also add a Drop Shadow to any font. This kind of shadowing creates a nice effect, which is most useful for black text on a light background. Another wonderful improvement in iDVD 5 is that you can change font options for different text boxes independently. For example, if you select the DVD title in the main Preview pane and then change the font settings in the Customize pane, the new font settings will apply only to the DVD title. Changes to the font settings of a chapter title will apply to all chapter titles, which may be frustrating in certain situations, but generally a good idea for consistency's sake.

The final section of the Settings pane is the one I tend to use the most: Buttons. This section gives you tools to change the way buttons are positioned, including their size, style, and the way they transition into the chapters they designate. When creating a new DVD, the first setting I change is usually the button positioning—I always select Free Position instead of the default Snap to Grid. The grid that buttons snap to in iDVD is determined by the theme, not a measured alignment grid. So, selecting Free Position is critical in creating your own layout, and it's necessary if you want to move buttons to somewhere other than their default position. The Style box lets you choose the look of your chapter buttons. Generally, the default from a theme works well aesthetically, so I tend to leave that box in its default position. However, there are always exceptions and good aesthetic reasons to make changes. For example, if you want your background to contain still images, but you want moving image/video previews attached to chapter buttons, then you will usually have to choose a different button style from the default text-only option. Each option for the style box denotes a frame outline into which previews of the chapter associated with a given button will be placed. In this case, "button style" means, in essence, frame style. Choosing a new button style prompts iDVD to extrapolate little chapter preview movies for you from the chapters you have already assigned to given buttons. Choosing a different button style then changes the frame that goes around that little preview and how big the frame (and video inside it) is on the screen. Stylistic consistency between background and frame style is key here, as it will maintain the professional look of your disc menu.

If you change the style of your buttons, you can also change their size, using the self-labeled slider. Like the font size slider, this one scales the buttons in the main preview window so that you can easily find the size you're looking for. Once you've created buttons that you like and you've placed them where you want on the screen, you can decide on a transition type. This transition will be what happens between when a viewer selects a chapter and when the chapter begins playing. (Unfortunately, you have to go into preview mode to test out each option.) Remember that discretion is the better part of valor, and a simple fade or dissolve looks much more professional than a Flip or Twirl.

Now that you've created the greatest disc menu ever, how do you use it as a template for future DVD projects? At the very bottom of the Settings pane is a button marked Save as Favorite. This button lets you save the masterpiece you've created as a new theme. You can give it its own name and choose whether or not to make it available to all user accounts on your computer. It is important that you uncheck the box marked Replace existing, unless you are replacing a theme that you have previously created. Though you may think you'll never use it, it's generally not a good idea to overwrite the pre-set themes, since you never know when you'll want to use one as a starting point again.

Once you've saved your theme, (yes, it takes a while after you click OK) it will be easily accessible for future use from the Favorites option in the drop down menu of the Themes pane.

Now that you know how to customize the look of your DVD and create your own integrated theme, you can use iDVD for all of your professional and personal needs. So be confident in distributing that training video or music video your kids made— now you know how to make it look good.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020