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TUTORIAL | Cut Lines: Using "Stories" in DVD Studio Pro
Posted Sep 1, 2006 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Normally, we concentrate on FCP itself. Occasionally, we'll look at the other bundled applications in Final Cut Studio and how they can enhance your production, and this month, we do just that. We'll build on last month's Cut Lines about getting your Final Cut Pro project out to DVD and automating the creation of sub-menus (aka chapter menus). This month, we'll take it one step further and show you how to give that DVD more functionality with just a tiny bit of work. The good news is that this function has always existed in DVD Studio Pro (DVD SP), so this tutorial applies to whatever version you are using. What I'm going to show you is the Stories feature in DVD SP.

Normally, when working in DVD Studio Pro, the DVD you build has a Track that contains your video and audio, Menus and sub-menus that have Buttons, and that's about it. When your users click a button, the DVD jumps to a specific place on the Track or another Menu. Your Track has a single "End Jump" specified, meaning that whatever button the user clicks to jump to some part of the video, once it reaches the end of that Track, the DVD goes back to the same menu, no matter what. Normally, you'd set this End Jump to return to your main menu.

Have you noticed that some store-bought DVDs operate in a more intelligent manner? Instead of always returning to the main menu, some jump back to the sub-menu from which you accessed the video you've been watching. You can make this happen in DVD Studio Pro. Let's look at a typical scenario: What if you have three sub-menus? How do you tell the DVD to return to the specific sub-menu where you hit the chapter button that took you to the last-watched content, rather than the main menu to which your DVD Track is set?

The answer: Stories! And it's pretty easy to do. Let's get started.

Story Editing 101
In this tutorial on Stories, I will use the same DVD project (Alice & Roy's Wedding) we followed in last month's Cut Lines. First, I'll hit the F2 key to put us in the Extended window configuration. Stories are the last step of authoring before we test our design. In our example, we have a main menu and three sub-menus with chapter links, Track 1 with our animated introduction logo, and Track 2 that contains our wedding video. Track 2 has its End Jump setting configured for Menu 1, our main menu (Figure 1, below).

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Figure 1. We have a main menu and three sub-menus with chapter links, Track 1 with our animated introduction logo, and Track 2 that contains our video.

The first step in creating a Story is to create a new Story asset. In the Browser under the Outline tab, we want to make a story for our wedding video track, which is Track 2. So click on Track 2 to highlight it, then right click (Ctrl+click if you are still using a one-button mouse) on Track 2. In that pop-up menu, select Add > New Story (Figure 2, below).

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Figure 2. Here's how you open the Story Editor from within the Outline tab.

The result is the creation of Story 1 that appears indented under Track 2. Then choose the Story tab in the lower left window. This is our Story Editor. You should see View: Story 1, and a list of all the Chapter Markers from Track 2 (which is the Track our Story is based on). Now we're set to arrange our Story.

The Story editor tab is very simple to use. As you see, we can drag our Chapter Markers from the Chapter Markers column on the left of our Story Editor to the Story Markers column on the right. Let's click once on the second Chapter Marker (Ceremony) on the left to highlight it, then scroll to the last Chapter Marker (Highlights), then hold the Shift key while clicking on that last marker. Then we'll grab the whole batch of Chapter Markers we've selected and drag them all to to the Story Markers column on the right (Figure 3, below). I do not want to use the Play Video marker, as this plays the video from start to finish, and I want that function to always come back to the main menu, so I don't drag Play Video into the Story Markers column along with the rest.

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Figure 3. To use the Story Editor, drag your Chapter Markers from the Chapter Markers column on the left of your Story Editor to the Story Markers on the right.

Notice we now have all those markers in both columns. This operation "copies" markers; it doesn't "move" them. All your chapter markers and buttons will remain where they were originally, and there will be no duplication of content. Also notice that in the Story Marker column, our markers are all followed by the word "Entry." This signifies them as an Entry to a Story. The Story Markers column is where the magic happens.

At this point I'll click once on the first Story Marker called Ceremony to highlight it. Look at the Inspector window, and you'll notice that at the top, just below the name of the marker we have highlighted, is an End Jump drop-down menu setting. This sets the End Jump for that marker. If you set this Story Marker in a menu, your video will play from this marker only to the very next marker, then End Jump to wherever we specify. This tells the DVD that when the user selects this button in this menu, it should go to this Story Marker, then play from that point to the next Chapter Marker. Then End Jump will take the user to wherever you specify. In this case, we'll set it to Menu 2, since that's the sub-menu where the button to which we want to link this Story Marker is located.

Next, in the Inspector, click the drop-down End Jump menu (Figure 4, below) and select Menus > Menu 2 > [Menu]. We'll have to select each Story Marker individually and set its End Jump to the appropriate menu. Since Menu 2 contains all my Chapter Markers from Ceremony to Reception, I'll set all those to Menu 2, as we just did for the Ceremony Entry Story Marker.

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Figure 4. Use this series of drop-down menus in the Inspector to set an End Jump for your Story Marker.

What I normally do when I'm setting End Jumps in the Story editor is open the Menu I'm working with so I can see all the specific buttons in it. In this case, that would be Menu 2. Once I set the End Jump for all my chapter buttons in Menu 2, I'll set the buttons themselves. So with Menu 2 open in my Canvas window, I'll right-click (Ctrl+click for one-button mice) the Play Video button. In the pop-up menu that appears, I'll then choose Target > Tracks and Stories > Track 2::Story 1 > Ceremony (this shortcut does the same thing as setting the End Jump in the Inspector window).

You can now set the rest of your Story Markers as you wish, and set all your sub-menu buttons as you wish. You're no longer stuck with forcing your DVD's viewer to jump back to the same menu, no matter what button they choose. You now have more freedom to create a dynamic and exciting DVD viewing experience for your client.

Shortcut to Short-Form Video
If you want to get really elaborate with this, you can make a Story have as many as 99 markers (or as few as one); it's up to how you want your DVD to operate. If you like to stay more organized in your production work, working on a DVD like our three-chapter-menu example project, you could make three stories, each specifying the operations of one of our three menus.

Another interesting scenario would be to create a Story, add only the Bride's Entrance, Vows, Cake-Cutting, Bouquet Toss, the couple leaving the reception, and Closing Highlights chapters to play. You would make a menu button and call it something appropriate. Presto, you just created your short-form video version without any extra encoding or editing (Figure 5, below). And it fits and plays on the same DVD as your long-form version! Cool, eh?

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Figure 5. With just a few clicks in the Story Editor, you just created your short-form video version without any extra encoding or editing.

Think about adding extra Chapter menus when you're in DVD SP (markers that won't actually be on any menu) to make a Story that shows the viewer a different arrangement of video clips. Go crazy, y'all!

This is just one more tool that not only provides you with more control over how your DVD operates but also empowers you to present your carefully crafted video story in more creative ways. For more detailed information about all the powerful and flexable tools in DVD SP, I highly recommend the book Apple Pro Training, DVD Studio Pro 4. Until next month, happy editing!

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