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Old July 8th, 2009, 01:37 PM   #1
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Use of images in DVD Studio Pro (4)

Hi all.
Turns out this is crazy DVDSP week...

I've searched high and low for an anwer to this...various internet searches and a good browse of a DVDSP manual and just can't (there's a few of us on this) suss this one out.

I'm creating a navigation menu in DVDSP - case of dropping in an image file as the backdrop, then adding any required buttons on top (rather than using standard templates).
Two projects: one 4:3 the other 16:9 (both standard definition).

For the 4:3 I assumed an image size of 720x576 (PAL) and for 16:9 a size of 1024x576 (this is a roughish 'guestimate') - I know it can fairly mathematical at this stage.
In DVDSP the resulting image is somehow degraded or corrupted - jagged lines (certainly on text) and a darker image than the original. Conversely in iDVD the picture looks absolutely fine - I can't believe DVDSP as a supposedly more pro piece of software fares worse than iDVD!!??

Clutching at straws, my best current guess is that the type of image is having an effect here - might the use of Jpegs/Tiffs have an effect on this? Are they square pixels and somehow being effected on import to DVDSP (i.e. stretched)? Should we instead stick with PSD's or PNG's...or should I steer clear of this and try a different piece of software (god forbid iDVD). I like FCP and don't really want to head towards Adobe suite (and throw away a learning curve) but this is a little bonkers...!

I'll try and post a couple of snapshots if that helps my query.

Many thanks.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 04:21 PM   #2
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Photoshop has several presets for PAL: PAL D1/DV (720x576, 1.07 pixel aspect), PAL D1/DV Widescreen (720x576, 1.42 pa), PAL D1/DV Square Pixels (768x576) and PAL D1/DV Widescreen Square Pixels (1024x576).

I've authored NTSC DVDs in DVDSP with TIFF JPEG and PNG output from Photoshop and they've turned out fine. But, if DVDSP has to interpolate size/scale, it sucks about as much as FCP does (that is to say a lot).

As far as the color shift, my only thought is a CMYK file or some different color space. Vanilla RGB always transferred fine for me.
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Old July 8th, 2009, 08:18 PM   #3
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David,

The other sticky-wicket you want to avoid when trying to make crisp text is *not* to use any motion-menus. Unlike other high-end authoring apps DVDSP is an "abstraction-layer" builder so that you can more easily get WYSIWYG results. That means if you introduce any motion elements into the menu, even if only one button is using motion, then the entire menu and background gets low-ressed by the app to accommodate the higher bitrate required for the motion. That means background graphics and text become less crisp and often have pixelated, stair-stepping edges such as you're describing.

Scott's advice is spot-on otherwise: always pre-scale your graphics to fit the menu area it's going into so DVDSP doesn't do it's horrific attempt at scaling.

Unlike iDVD which has been constantly updated and improved by the "i products" team, DVDSP4 is long overdue for an update/upgrade and could explain why iDVD motion menus can actually look better than from DVDSP4.
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Old July 9th, 2009, 03:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Anderson View Post
Photoshop has several presets for PAL: PAL D1/DV (720x576, 1.07 pixel aspect), PAL D1/DV Widescreen (720x576, 1.42 pa), PAL D1/DV Square Pixels (768x576) and PAL D1/DV Widescreen Square Pixels (1024x576).

I've authored NTSC DVDs in DVDSP with TIFF JPEG and PNG output from Photoshop and they've turned out fine. But, if DVDSP has to interpolate size/scale, it sucks about as much as FCP does (that is to say a lot).

As far as the color shift, my only thought is a CMYK file or some different color space. Vanilla RGB always transferred fine for me.
Thanks Scott. Are you/were you authoring in DVDSP to receive these fine results?
We went with 1024x576 pixels (TIFF), but I noticed you had another setting above for PAL D1/DV of 720x576, 1.42 pa - not quite sure what this is, but would I be correct in guessing that the pixel is wider therefore filling out the widescreen 16x9 area? So I wouldn't expect DVDSP to size/scale with the file we're using (I've steered away from using jpegs as I read they were square pixels and hence perhaps affecting 'video/television' pixels?!

Quote:
The other sticky-wicket you want to avoid when trying to make crisp text is *not* to use any motion-menus. Unlike other high-end authoring apps DVDSP is an "abstraction-layer" builder so that you can more easily get WYSIWYG results. That means if you introduce any motion elements into the menu, even if only one button is using motion, then the entire menu and background gets low-ressed by the app to accommodate the higher bitrate required for the motion. That means background graphics and text become less crisp and often have pixelated, stair-stepping edges such as you're describing.

Scott's advice is spot-on otherwise: always pre-scale your graphics to fit the menu area it's going into so DVDSP doesn't do it's horrific attempt at scaling.

Unlike iDVD which has been constantly updated and improved by the "i products" team, DVDSP4 is long overdue for an update/upgrade and could explain why iDVD motion menus can actually look better than from DVDSP.
Aside from DVDSP what other high end authoring software is there? In the end I used iDVD, which worked wonderfully for the images and text but...well you can tell it's a consumer piece of software.

I was to attach an image of the output on DVDSP but you've described it perfectly (pixelated, stair-stepping edges).
Good point about 'i products' being upgraded often.
I did have a 'movie' playing on one of the buttons but took this off for another project. This other project also clearly showed signs of image degradation (aforementioned issues) and this is before any buttons or menu icons were added. The only other thing I can think of is that the preview in DVDSP is very lame (as in FCP - only really showing half the quality) and on export to a playable DVD it looks fine on a television: this would mean iDVD has a much clearer preview pane...but I'm again clutching at straws. Might give the 720x576 1.42, pa a try (if I can work out how to do it).

Thanks very much for the comments.
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Old July 9th, 2009, 04:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Scattergood View Post
Aside from DVDSP what other high end authoring software is there?
For the Mac, none. For the PC there's Sony Blu-Print and Sonic Scenarist. There's also a branded version of the Sonic app for Avid but that too is PC only - and has about the same functionality as DVDSP4.

What's interesting is that many Avid post houses actually edit and encode in Avid apps but then author in DVDSP4.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 03:04 PM   #6
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For the Mac, none. For the PC there's Sony Blu-Print and Sonic Scenarist. There's also a branded version of the Sonic app for Avid but that too is PC only - and has about the same functionality as DVDSP4.

What's interesting is that many Avid post houses actually edit and encode in Avid apps but then author in DVDSP4.
Does the Adobe/Premier route not have options for mac (not that I really want to undo a learning curve and migrate to that suite...if I can help it).
So...'Hollywood' produced DVD's created via macs will end up having their authoring carried out in DVDSP? I like it as a program, but these image & text degradations are awful. I really can't see a way around this at the moment, but will test the 720x576 1.42pa image export. Actually I might test the menu screen on a burn against iDVD on a burn and see if it's merely the preview not being up to much. I've had no problems with using the templates within DVDSP over the past year or two but could do with creating our 'bespoke' versions now.

Currently going back and forth with the designer to get a solution on this...but thanks for all the advice.

Cheers.
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Old July 10th, 2009, 09:03 PM   #7
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No, big Hollywood studios are using Scenarist or Blu-Print. Both apps cost over $150K just for a single-seat after licensing issues are paid up-front.

Encore is somewhere between iDVD and DVDSP4 in it's overall functionality and is not used by any pro post-houses that I'm aware of. It's a good app and does it's job well, just not as developed as DVDSP. Although Adobe did one-up Apple by bringing in native BR support (burned discs only, not for replication).

Not sure why you're having such trouble with your images and text; if you're not building a motion-menu your results even in the online preview (simulate menu) shouldn't be any worse than these examples:

You're not zooming-in on the simulated menus, are you? That will definitely show stair-stepping edges.
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Use of images in DVD Studio Pro (4)-picture-1.jpg   Use of images in DVD Studio Pro (4)-picture-2.jpg  

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Old July 13th, 2009, 04:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
No, big Hollywood studios are using Scenarist or Blu-Print. Both apps cost over $150K just for a single-seat after licensing issues are paid up-front.

Encore is somewhere between iDVD and DVDSP4 in it's overall functionality and is not used by any pro post-houses that I'm aware of. It's a good app and does it's job well, just not as developed as DVDSP. Although Adobe did one-up Apple by bringing in native BR support (burned discs only, not for replication).

Not sure why you're having such trouble with your images and text; if you're not building a motion-menu your results even in the online preview (simulate menu) shouldn't be any worse than these examples:

You're not zooming-in on the simulated menus, are you? That will definitely show stair-stepping edges.

Hi Robert - no zoom ins. Just a simple import of an image graphic (in this case a 1024x576 tiff to slot into a 16:9 production). I'm always aware that small text in video and red are pretty much a no no but in this case they have been avoided. I've never had any trouble with the templates and they've always looked good on a television. I will try and post up an example - very busy at the moment so it might be a day or two, but it might be worth showing.
Thanks again.

ps -$150k!!
Do you know if many of the indies tend to run with DVDSP?
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Old July 13th, 2009, 12:42 PM   #9
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PAL SD DVDs, just like NTSC SD DVDs, are always the same number of pixels, regardless of being 4:3 or 16:9. They are always 720x576 (PAL), with the pixels being interpreted as a 1.07 pixel aspect ratio (4:3) or a 1.42 pixel aspect ration (16:9). The latest few versions of Photoshop have just included presets that allow you to preview and work with those same 720x576 at the right aspect ratios.

It seems to me that by using a 1024x576 square pixels TIFF, you're forcing DVDSP to re-scale, re-interpolate that square pixel still to PAL SD Anamorphic Widescreen.

I think as soon as you feed DVDSP the right pixel dimensions, it should "pop" perfectly, just as it should. The same holds true, of course, for motion menus. I always try and pre-render as many motion elements as possible into the background video, and that includes text. That way, all DVDSP has to generate is static buttons or an overlay file (sometimes an alpha-channel-type still generated from the same original animation).

I've actually found you can get away with much smaller, finer text by pre-rendering into a background video, and using non-text button highlights, like underlines, graphic framing elements, etc.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 12:49 PM   #10
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BTW, Robert, they demonstrated a workflow at this year's FCPUG Supermeet where you CAN use Encore to author a Blu-ray replication disc, using a $350 software called BluStreak:

BluStreak | BluStreak Blu-ray Software

Apparently, this software takes your Encore-authored BD and does all the Folder structure/disc imaging/magic juju needed for replication. Of course, you'll still need to deal with the (possibly) thousand-dollar+ AACS licensing fees, but that's a topic for another thread.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 03:22 PM   #11
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Just to revisit your original question since you've already invested in the Final Cut Suite...

I've never been able to get any satisfactory results in DVDSP using a still background image. DVDSP's processing of any type of still image format seems to go to crap with jaggies, weird color rendering, dithering and all other manner of strange compression techniques. Suffice it to say it's not built for stills.

How I've gotten around this with my work is implementing slow pans and whatnot in the background, which generally is more aesthetically pleasing anyway and serves as a good menu background since it's not so highly active as to be distracting. For example, I did a documentary on paintings and rendered out from Final Cut several slow pans across the backgrounds I would be using for DVDSP menus. When they're imported into DVDSP they will again be processed so you'll have slight generation loss, but DVDSP handles video MUCH more smoothly and I never had any complaints about jaggies, aliasing, etc. The color processing was spot-on also.

Just my two cents.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #12
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What I'm doing now is buliding my motion menus,text etc... in After Effects and then render out to Pal for me. Then I import the rendered file into DVDSP. I then overlay buttons, then render out to final product.

I find After Effects great for composing DVD menus.
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Old July 20th, 2009, 07:14 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Scott Anderson View Post
PAL SD DVDs, just like NTSC SD DVDs, are always the same number of pixels, regardless of being 4:3 or 16:9. They are always 720x576 (PAL), with the pixels being interpreted as a 1.07 pixel aspect ratio (4:3) or a 1.42 pixel aspect ration (16:9). The latest few versions of Photoshop have just included presets that allow you to preview and work with those same 720x576 at the right aspect ratios.

It seems to me that by using a 1024x576 square pixels TIFF, you're forcing DVDSP to re-scale, re-interpolate that square pixel still to PAL SD Anamorphic Widescreen.

I think as soon as you feed DVDSP the right pixel dimensions, it should "pop" perfectly, just as it should. The same holds true, of course, for motion menus. I always try and pre-render as many motion elements as possible into the background video, and that includes text. That way, all DVDSP has to generate is static buttons or an overlay file (sometimes an alpha-channel-type still generated from the same original animation).

I've actually found you can get away with much smaller, finer text by pre-rendering into a background video, and using non-text button highlights, like underlines, graphic framing elements, etc.
Hi Scott - sorry I've been busy and as such have not had time to visit this board over the past week. Not knowing a great deal about the graphics end initially suggested using the 1024x576 as this would fit the constraints of my 16:9 (720x576!) project. If I can get the designer to retry using a Photoshop preset and it works much better (as good as iDVD would be fine!) then I'd be a lot happier.
Sounds like quite a few people have issues with stills in DVDSP however. Thanks Scott.

Dave - that might be the way for me to work in the future with this program - I'll give the panning a shot - sounds like a fine idea (visually interesting too). I'll also use video (QT FCP exports).

Simon - AE keeps cropping up in almost every conversation we have here - the sooner we purchase this program the better!

Thanks once again all.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 03:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
No, big Hollywood studios are using Scenarist or Blu-Print. Both apps cost over $150K just for a single-seat after licensing issues are paid up-front.

Encore is somewhere between iDVD and DVDSP4 in it's overall functionality and is not used by any pro post-houses that I'm aware of. It's a good app and does it's job well, just not as developed as DVDSP. Although Adobe did one-up Apple by bringing in native BR support (burned discs only, not for replication).

Not sure why you're having such trouble with your images and text; if you're not building a motion-menu your results even in the online preview (simulate menu) shouldn't be any worse than these examples:

You're not zooming-in on the simulated menus, are you? That will definitely show stair-stepping edges.
Did you type that button text in DVDSP?? Every time I type text in DVDSP it looks absolutely awful, especially when highlighted.
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Old November 13th, 2009, 04:56 PM   #15
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I've been having trouble with this for some time. After some searching I found this on...another...forum......... :/

Importing menu for Photoshop PLEASE HELP (yes, I have read the manual) : Apple DVD Studio Pro

"Re: Importing menu for Photoshop PLEASE HELP (yes, I have read the manual)
by Bret Williams on Mar 29, 2006 at 10:29:10 pm

Resize the image in Photoshop from 720x534 to 720x480 after you're done designing. Don't let DVDSP do the resize.

So it's all the same. Old school is design at 720x534 then squish it to 720x480 and import to DVDSP."


So far, this process has worked for me. Hope it helps.
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