The essential feature that makes disc authoring possible is the menu. A particular disc may have one, a few or many menus, each consisting of a still image or a short video loop. Areas within the menus, called buttons, can be selected by the viewer to activate other content on the disc.
Some buttons cause playback to resume from specified locations, called chapters, on the timeline of your production. These chapter buttons often show a thumbnail frame or video loop as a clue to their content.
Other buttons cause a transfer to another menu, or to another page of the same menu. Multipage menus, with each page displaying several chapter buttons along with automatically-managed navigation buttons, facilitate productions of any size.
Unlike timeline clips, the menus in your production are not bound to a particular time offset. Instead, a disc player will loop the menu until user interaction is received.
Because menus exist ‘outside of time’, Avid Studio provides the Menu List, a special area above the Disc Editor timeline to accommodate the menus in your project. Dragging a menu from the Library into the Menu List makes it available for use in your project.
Designing menu interactivity
A disc production may contain just one menu, or it may have many. Each menu contains graphically distinct areas, generically called ‘buttons’, that can be activated by the viewer, perhaps using the navigation keys on a DVD remote control.
The behavior of disc menu buttons can be set up using controls in the Disc Editor window. Alternatively, you can invoke the Chapter Wizard to create and configure a set of buttons automatically according to your chosen settings.
Activating a button either starts your movie playing back from a chosen point, or transfers control to another menu with its own buttons. The possible targets for menu buttons are:
· A timeline location: Upon activation, playback resumes from a chosen frame. The location, and the content found there, are referred to as a ‘chapter’ of your movie.
· Another menu: Any button can be linked to any menu in the Menu List.
· Another page of the same menu: Multipage menus always include next and previous buttons for navigating between their pages.
As you insert new chapter links into a multipage menu, additional pages are created automatically as needed. These appear in the Menu List alongside those already in the project. A connector graphic links pages belonging to the same menu. To insert new linked chapters, use either the Insert Link button on the toolbar, or the Chapter Wizard.
Main menu and matching multipage menu in the Library Player.
Next and Previous: It is the presence of the special next and previous buttons that causes a menu to support the multipage behavior. To create a multipage menu from an existing main menu, simply add buttons of both these types. Likewise, deleting either or both of the next and previous buttons from a multipage menu removes the automatic features.
The icons of multipage menus are connected in the Menu List by a special graphic. It shows that the menus are linked, which is to say that you can navigate from one page within the menu to another by means of the next and previous buttons.
Splitting and joining: To unlink neighboring menu pages from each other, click the connector graphic between them. The graphic is removed. Pages to the left of the mouse remain with the original menu, while those to the right form a new, separate menu (with a new background color for its menu icons). Click in the gap between neighboring multipage menus to regroup them into a single menu.
Sorting chapters: A time-saving tool meant primarily for multipage menus is the sort button that appears with the Chapter Wizard button to the right of the menu’s last page. When you have been working on a menu for a while – adding, deleting and rearranging chapters, perhaps even while editing the movie itself in parallel – you are likely to find that the chapter buttons are no longer in timeline order across the set of pages. Unless you want a custom order for some reason, the remedy is a single click on the sort button.
Pages from a multipage menu. The connector graphic shows that navigation within these pages is provided by Next and Previous buttons. The Sort button (top right, under pointer) arranges the chapter buttons in timeline sequence.