Short answer: you're guess are all good except for the end action that sends the "tip" back to menu. That end action is on each chapter playlist. No chapters will have end actions.
I'll give a longer response in just a bit...
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Are chapter playlists the correct tool to use for this?.
Yes. The two alternative are overrides, which will work but seem to get most users into trouble, and making each chapter its own asset. Here, each tip will be part (not all) of the only logical subdivisions, so I don't think that is a good choice.
play it all the way to the end,
The timeline itself will have an end action that goes back to its menu (or whereever you want). There will be no other end actions on the timeline, so it will play right through. The only disadvantage to having lots of "extra" chapter markers is that they will show up on DVD player displays, and the numbering may not fit what the viewers logic would dictate. Also, a user wanting to step through the "play all" option will stop at many chapters that will have no importance.
I'm thinking that the only thing that identifies the end of one chapter has to be the start of the next chapter.
I have little doubt that Encore will tell me that I haven't used those particular markers -- but can I ignore the warnings and still get a usable playable DVD?
I don't think you will even get a warning. It is common for there to be chapters on a timeline, and for there to be no buttons that link to them.
3) Where do I define the end action of returning to the menu?
Each "tip" chapter will be added to its own chapter playlist. The button for that tip will link to that chapter playlist. The end action will go on the chapter playlist. No chapter will have an end action.
I can't find the reference I'm sure I have to a tutorial....
Yep. Works just the way you describe.
What I did was create a menu with 9 buttons. Created a chapter playlist for each button, and each playlist contained just a single chapter. So I'm not using this thing as originally intended I imagine. Yet, it does more or less what I want.
The only problem, if it's actually a problem, is that when the DVD player gets to the end of the chapter, it holds that last frame on screen while it does the file lookup for the menu that is the end action of the chapter playlist. Once the menu has been re-read, it puts that up on the screen. Just a couple of seconds. But it would have been nice if the chapter playlist instead got to the end of the chapter and then generated a black screen while pulling up the menu. Still, for me, the functionality far outweights that little quirk.
Very cool that one can do this.
when the DVD player gets to the end of the chapter, it holds that last frame on screen while it does the file lookup for the menu that is the end action of the chapter playlist. Once the menu has been re-read, it puts that up on the screen. Just a couple of seconds. But it would have been nice if the chapter playlist instead got to the end of the chapter and then generated a black screen while pulling up the menu.
I think this is actually by design in the DVD spec. There is more concern over seeing a black frame than a still of the last thing that was on the screen.
But the intent is as little black or still as possible. Some black/still is not because of the spec but less than optimal coding. I am not expert enough in that to tell you whether your situation can be improved by things like pgcedit after you are doing in Encore.