DVDA Niggles with PSD Files...help

vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/1/2012, 6:58 AM
I'm transitioning with success away from DVDA's native menu creation tools to the use of Photoshop for constructing my DVDA 5.2 Pro menus. The manual in this regard is pretty flimsy and certainly doesn't speak to the following. Can anyone shed some light?

In PS, I create a multilayered background, which is a PS Group ("Bkgrd") of many layers and subgroups, that eventually gets merged into a single new layer called "background-01" per DVDA's naming requirement. I discovered that if the Bkgrd group, which DVDA just ignores, contains an Adjustment layer, the menu appears black in DVDA. If I remove the Adjustment layer, then DVDA plays nicely as expected. My Bkgrd group also contains a number of FX layers, which don't seem to bother DVDA in the least.

Now, bear in mind that DVDA ignores all PS layers that aren't named according to DVDA's very specific naming convention. Hence, I was surprised that my Bkgrd group caused DVDA to fall over just because it contained an Adjustment layer, which apparently wasn't ignored at some level! This is true no matter if I saved the PSD file with the Bkgrd group and/or its contained layers with visibility on or off.

This makes me wonder what other incompatibilities DVDA might have with certain PS elements or layer types? Can anyone educate me here? I care only because I lose the ability to tweak my Adjustment layers and update the menu in DVDA. (In practice, I had to merge Adjustment layers into the corresponding image layer(s)...so, goodbye Adjustment layers.)

Thanks,
Steve

Comments

Steve Mann wrote on 5/1/2012, 9:40 AM
This is the only way to make DVD menus. The flexibility is limited only by your imagination (and knowledge of Photoshop).

I just do a "save as" to a new filename then rasterize all layers before saving it again for DVDA.

"project.psd" - This is where I do all my work.
Save-as "project-menu.psd"
Open "project-menu.psd", rasterize the smart objects and flatten the background layers (Ctrl-Alt-E), then save this file for DVDA.

If I need to make changed I can go back to the original "project.psd" file.

Steve Grisetti wrote on 5/1/2012, 9:58 AM
Though, for obvious reasons, Adobe Encore uses Photoshop layers differently than DVD Architect.
vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/1/2012, 9:58 AM
Roger that, Steve M. I understand what you're suggesting. In addition, I found your earlier tutorial (Word document) an indispensable asset in this regard.

I had hoped to avoid the workflow you mentioned above, thinking I could dynamically update menus as I jumped between DVDA and PS, rather than insert the extra step of rasterizing and flattening the entire document. Alas, I'm halfway there already by having to merge/flatten the Adjustment and some image layers for the reasons I mentioned.

By the way, I'm not a fan of the massively animated monstrosities that are some Hollywood menus. Still, I do like tasteful animations from time to time. Have you found a good way to combine animated elements with the PS workflow? If that question is too broad, just skip it. I'm still getting my head around this workflow and I'll likely figure out a lot along the way.

It's just a shame that the DVDA manual does not elaborate upon the PS workflow, which in my estimation is SO much, much more powerful than using the effective yet simplified gizmos within DVDA itself.

Steve G., I've never used Encore, but during the last year I've incorporated more of Adobe's Creative Suite into my arsenal with unequivocal benefit, e.g., PS, Illustrator, and AE. I am constantly awed at how well these integrate with each other. My first spouse is DVDA and I guess that's why I've not bothered to look elsewhere for authoring purposes. ;)

-Steve
Jack S wrote on 5/1/2012, 9:59 AM
I, like you, found the DVDAS menu creation process too limited. I particularly wanted more scope with the way text looked on the menu page. I found that an easy way to do this was to build up the menu page (background, title text, button text) using the VMS timeline. When I've got it just about right I set the preview to Best then copy it to the DVDAS project folder as a jpg. I then save the VMS project. I can then 'Set Background Media ...' in DVDAS to be the jpg just saved. If I need to make any changes I can bring the project back into VMS and make the necessary changes before saving the preview over the previous one. The changed background will be automatically updated in the DVDAS project. I've also found a way to create buttons in DVDAS that disappear when they lose focus (something that can't be done with the normal button creation process in DVDAS). This method is a little too involved to include in this thread but I'd be happy to describe it if anyone is interested.

My system
Dell XPS 8700 (I know, it's a little outdated)
Windows 10 Home (x64)
3.1 GHz Intel Core i5-4440
16GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti display adapter
System drive Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB

Camcorder
SONY Handycam HDR-XR550VE

vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/1/2012, 10:09 AM
Jack, thanks. I believe that the Studio version can't use PSD files, right? (I don't have it, but I know this sub-forum caters to DVDA and DVDAS.) I understand what you're doing and why, but frankly, the unbridled typesetting and graphics capabilities of PS trounce what Vegas (and Vegas Studio) could ever hope to do. In fact, I absolutely abhor Vegas' typesetting, so I use PS now for credits and anything else that is more than the most simple text.

Steve
videoITguy wrote on 5/1/2012, 1:26 PM
To vtxrocketeer :
You will find a timely and very thorough complete understanding of menu building in the recent SCS training video - about advanced Blu-Ray /DVD creative techniques. Look under the Training section of this site- download and keep the video on hand.
vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/1/2012, 1:36 PM
videoITguy, very ironically it was ME who called attention to this very video on the Vegas Video subforum not long ago, right after I viewed SCS's streaming webinar.

I would be well-served to view it again, even though it doesn't address my original question.

Thanks for the reminder. ;)
Steve Mann wrote on 5/1/2012, 4:00 PM
Thanks for the compliment about my tutorial.
Actually, there's no Hollywood DVD menu that I can't figure out how to replicate in DVDA with the help of Vegas and Photoshop. They are all pretty much the same.

I am no artist, so I haven't done any motion menus, but it's easily accomplished - after the artwork is finished.
vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/2/2012, 4:13 PM
On the topic of PSD files, I ran into a snag. I first made all of my Blu-ray artwork and menus (obviously, at 1920 x 1080, 72dpi). They look great.

Then, I thought I would simply resize the BR menus in Photoshop to 720 x 405 for the DVD versions of my production. But, gadzooks, they looked like crap after downsizing, using PS's bicubic-sharpen algorithm as suggested for reductions. So, I had to reconstruct major parts of the DVD menus from scratch at the native resolution. What a pain.

Please tell me that I've missed something in this workflow. Otherwise, I'll have to make two sets of PSD files for BR and DVD.

-Steve
videoITguy wrote on 5/2/2012, 5:42 PM
I don't understand why your resize would affect quality. I have never had a problem just constructing a file of a .psd type in many compatible photo/art applications of a moderate suitable working size. I don't worry about the final size of presentation until upon import into DVDAPro - that is where I make all sizing adjustments for the output.
vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/2/2012, 6:17 PM
Rasterized elements in my 1920x1080 PSD document did not survive the downsize well. They blurred and/or got aliased. An example were small elements having perfect and thin vertical pieces; these all but disappeared upon the downsize. I looked, but did not find, a Lanczos plugin for PS that would have achieved better quality than the built-in bicubic algorithm.

I also tried importing my 1920x1080 PSD into my 720x405 DVDA project. Same result, but in that case I have no idea what resizing algorithm that DVDA uses.

I could also be fussing too much about details.

I don't worry about the final size of presentation until upon import into DVDAPro - that is where I make all sizing adjustments for the output.

What exactly do you mean, e.g., what steps do you take? Perhaps I'm overthinking this, but I just want to be clear on what works for you. ::

Thanks,
Steve
videoITguy wrote on 5/2/2012, 6:34 PM
I am really thinking that you are over-doing this process. The rule of thumb- all graphic buttons should have simple graphic elements - no thin lines please. Simple stylized logo design. Make a graphic size you can design in the graphics app. All resizing and cropping etc is done DVDAPro.

Note: The only way you can decently tell success and effect - is burn the Blu-Ray - i.e. BDRE for rehearsals. There is no such thing as a good preview device for this workflow. Then play in a set-top player ( not a PC or Media device) over HDMI to 42inch or larger LCD screen.
vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/2/2012, 8:38 PM
OK. Thanks very much for the reality check.

Concerning your "Note," I actually do have well-used BDRE and DVD-RW discs at hand for exactly the reason you mention, though at 2AM I did not have too many wits left to check my work on a set top player. <grimace>

I think I just made a poor choice for a button design that worked very well on the Blu-ray version but did not for the lower-rez DVD. Based upon that one element, I assumed that my original workflow -- the one you outlined -- was somehow flawed.

Cheers,
Steve
Steve Mann wrote on 5/2/2012, 10:47 PM
I just let DVDA resize the menu page.
Never use seriffed fonts (sharp pointy things). They do not resolve well in a menu image. I.E., they look like crap - which is why you will never find a Hollywood DVD using them in the titles.
vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/2/2012, 11:07 PM
Thanks, Steve. I was smart enough to avoid serifs.

What threw my present menu were small musical notes as buttons. You know, lots of sharp, pointy things. Sheesh. I will learn. I will learn...
videoITguy wrote on 5/3/2012, 3:43 PM
Re: vtxrocketeer's comments about a Blu-ray project down-rez to DVD in several posts in this thread. I have found that although it is a temptation to take a given project with properties of Blu-ray in the DVDAPro and just to reset the project properties to DVD and author and burn, ha,! well several bewares for your info.

Depending on the complexity of the project - this usually only works well for the simple video media included..it wreaks havoc with sub-titles and possibly menu elements. A simple solution for subtitles is to just export them from the Blu-ray master and then reimport them into the DVD sub-project. Then you can recompose format and display of the subtitles to be rendered in the DVD version.

Unfortunately there is no quick fix for menu elements - they may have to be redesigned in a graphics app and then re-imported into the DVD sub- project to be rendered without artifacts.
vtxrocketeer wrote on 5/3/2012, 7:53 PM
videoITguy, thanks for weighing in with the suggestions. I never use subtitles, but in case I wander out of English at some point, I'll keep your point in mind. ;)

As to the small menu elements, I think we're on the same page. I picked too detailed objects that ultimately I had to redesign slightly in PS.

I think what I had in mind at the outset is all the wonderfully crisp detail that is available with Blu-ray, which is where I start my authoring efforts. I'd be very happy to ditch DVD altogether, but some folks still want only DVD.

Thanks again, guys, for the practical tips.