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Welcome to the forum.
One thing that tends to get in the way, when creating Menus for PrE is that PrE's authoring module (creates navigation, Burns DVD, etc.) is that it does things semi-automatically. To accomplish this, one needs to think of Menu Sets (a Main Menu and a Scene Selection Menu, that will be replicated enough times to fit the Project). If you look in the folder structure of the Library, you will see that there are two Menus, and their accompanying PNG's (thumbnail display for Create Menu organizer) for each title. That is done to accommodate the semi-automatic aspect.
Now, using a well-defined set of properties, one CAN create Menu Sets for PrE. There are also several additional Menu Sets available from Muvipix, including one with a Text-only Scene Selection Menu. These can be purchased, or can be downloaded free, if one is a subscriber.
One consideration, in your stated case, is that if you have a Widescreen Project, you can ONLY have 18 Buttons on any one Menu. If you have a Scene Selection Menu for 18 Chapters, then you have no room for a Back to Main Menu Button. If you have a Standard Project (4:3), you can have up to 36 Buttons on a Menu, so all is cool, so long as you can fit them into the area - NO element of a Button may overlap any element in another.
If one is creating, or editing a Menu Set, I strongly advise that they spend a great deal of time studying similar Menu Sets from the Library. There are many conventions that MUST be maintained, and if one does not, problems WILL occur.
This ARTICLE will give you a few tips on editing/creating PrE Menu Sets.
Steve Grisetti also has some useful articles on editing Menu Sets, on Muvipix.
For more options, regarding Menus and navigation, many like Sony's DVD Architect. One limitation of that program is that it does not use Photoshop PSD's for the Menus. I do not know about its Menu editing capabilities, or any limitations. I use Adobe Encore, and it does use PS Menus, and is also 100% manual, so I can set up any navigational scheme that I want - though I do this fully manually. Unfortunately, it is ONLY available bundled with PrPro, and not as a stand-alone.
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My "Muvipix Guide to Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 7" (as well as the version 8 version) includes instructions for modifying and customizing menu templates. The books are available on Amazon as well as at the Muvipix.com store.
It's not an easy process to describe without illustrations, or I'd do it here.
But, if you're a high level Photoshop user, you may be able to figure it out.
Basically, you locate a DVD template in C:/PROGRAM FILES/ADOBE/PREMIERE ELMENTS 7/DVD TEMPLATES. These are PSD files, so you can open them in Photoshop.
The scene markers are inside layer set folders and can be modified (including removing the thumbnail) as well as duplicated to create more menu links.
There is a naming protocol and order to these files, however, so be careful. (Or use my book as a guide! )
Hunt's recommendation to use DVD Architect Studio instead to create your DVD files is an excellent one. (Not coincidentally, I've written a book on that app too!) It can be downloaded from the Sony Creative Software site for $39, and it makes a great supplement to Premiere Elements.
You just export your movie(s) from Premiere Elements as a DVD-quality MPEG(s) (Share/Personal Computer/MPEG) and then load those MPEGs into DVD Architect.
I've even created a free series of tutorials for Muvipix.com called Basic Training with DVD Architect Studio which shows you the basics of how the program works.
I was hoping that this did not involve figuring out and purchasing third-party tools or information. I also realize that it is a messy question since it involves both Photoshop (CS3 in our case) or PhotoShop Elements (most users).
The need is simple, from our perspective. We may even squeak in under one limit because there are actually 17 clips, not 18. This "movie" is actually a menu for a presentation and the presenter will click on the clips as she needs to, interspersed with viewing and her talk. (Is a DVD movie even the best way to do this? We felt that it might be since it felt clunky for the audience to watch her minimize a clip, then double-click the next item in a window.
There is no need to have associated images (although we can certainly use a still representing the work whence came the clips), and a requirement to have no associated interrupting audio or video--the careful tuning of which seems to be the main subject of the link to an earlier article in these forums.
In terms of menu, what is essential is that the titles of the clips be visible, no more. Perhaps the Muvipix text template is less expensive than downloading, installing, and learning an entirely new application.
One follow-on question: Is it better practice to use scene markers (easy enough to auto-generate) or main menu markers w/stop markers--I would think the latter, which would ensure that if the speaker isn't paying attention, the item ends and the display returns to the menu, ready for the next item to be selected. But, if so, how does one easily isolate the clips and insert the "stop" markers? It looks like I would have to manually change all 17 (well, all except for the first) from scene markers to main menu markers, and then carefully, manually insert "stop" markers just prior to each main menu marker (can it be a tenth of a second earlier? a second earlier? Can both be at the same timepoint--but then, a clip would start/stop instantly, no)?
Adding several clips to the same timeline and then using Stop Markers to separate them is pretty easy.
I've even written a free Steve's Tips article on doing it for http://Muvipix.com.
To download type "Menu Markers" in the site's product search box.
As for the menu page, if this is a one-off, I may even be persuaded to try to create a template for you. Just drop by Muvipix.com and join the Community forums and we'll see what we can. (It costs nothing to join -- although there are over 1000 tutorials, tips, DVD menus, motion backgrounds, licensed music and other products available if you buy a subscription.)
Yes, this is a one-off--the last time I had to create a DVD we were using PE4 and I simply mangled an existing template to accomodate the four clips I needed to present.
I have joined MVPix and even downloaded the text-only menu template--it is still greek to me as I stare at it in PhotoShop. I know how to manipulate images in Photoshop, but have no idea how to tie a particular layer or element to a "play this clip" action.
I'll rephrase this query on mvpix in the light of what I have learned since yesterday.
I do not get a chance to visit here as often as I would like, never sure when my next visit will be. But I wanted to direct you to some information that might be very helpful for your goal. At the other Premiere Elements Forum that I frequent I wrote a very comprehensive and detailed account of creating DVD Templates which can apply to these menus for Premiere Elements 3.0, 4.0, 7.0, and 8.0/8.0.1.
Premiere Elements DVD Template Creation
There is also a recent thread there where TomB wanted to use the Generic One Main Menu without the thumbnails (which contained the highlights) and just wanted to have text buttons (with highlights) on that Main Menu.
Our discussions went back and forth but we were successful in the end. My post at the end of that thread has my how to summary.
One quick note re:"Stop" markers--your tips doc, although informative, didn't address the question of where to put the "stop" marker in this sort of situation--several clips laid out synchronously on a timeline. In theory, I suppose, there would have been a way to space the clips one from the other so as to make this simpler, but I was not going to start moving things around (since, as both you and the Adobe docs carefully remind the user--the markers wouldn't move with the clips). So, I ended up putting the frame resolution at max and then placed a "stop" marker about a 10th of a second in front of each "main menu marker," excepting the end of the final clip, when I placed on right at the end (and this, presumably, was redundant?) Had we known this ahead of time, we'd have created the clips a bit differently, but so it goes.
Well done, and thank you for posting the link. I can now link to that, when the customization of PrE Menus comes up.
Although your name was shown in the directed to spot in the post, I am assuming that you most recent post was directed at me. If so,
Yes, in the matter of DVD Menu Creation in the article, my focus was on DVD Menu Creation and Main Menu Markers and Scene Markers as related to the DVD Menu Creation, and did not include management of the Timeline via Stop Markers which is another related matter.
Back in October 2008, I wrote on a DVD matter in which Stop Marker placement was at question. You might be interested in that.
DVD Menu/Each Scene Return to Main/No Loss Main Play All
Sorry, AT--I was referring to a post about DVD markers by someone earlier. That person referred me to a tutorial that mentioned "stop" markers but did not at all address my question, which was best practice concerning same, so I posted earlier what I ended up doing after finding a tutorial (which required the download of special software) .....
It looks like your instructions for modifying templates are quite detailed. I am looking forward to diving in and figuring this out. What I don't understand is why there isn't any Adobe documentation on the subject. (Even more, I don't understand why this aspect of DVD creation requires throwing such heavy guns at it--I can see where using Photoshop to get fancy makes sense; what is a bit offensive is why an application as simple as my own requires days of research and so much complexity. So it goes. Yet another software package not designed with my immediate "obvious" need in mind.
Well, even for Menus in Encore, there is scant little info out there. The glaring exception is Jeff Bellune's Focal Easy Guide to Adobe EncoreDVD 2.0, Focal Press. He covers the structure of the PSD Menus in great detail, and discusses modifications in PS.
However, there are special considerations with the Menu Sets in PrE. Much of the authoring is done in a semi-automatic way, so special considerations (and even special naming conventions) but be observed. ATR does a good job of listing those. It's like doing a perfect swan dive, where your competitor does a perfect twisting gainer in the pike position - degree of difficulty. It is to accommodate those semi-automatic interactions that make it tough. As ATR points out, PSE cannot create the Menus, due to the Layer Sets portion. Adobe sells PrE and PSE as companions and often bundled, so it does not surprise me, that they do not have a bunch of knowledgebase articles on doing it. They'd basically be telling customers that they need to buy a US$600 program to create them.
I create Menus in PS for most Projects, and can do it in my sleep. When it comes to doing the same with the PrE Menu Sets, I have to have one of the Library Assets Open, so I can follow along with the differences. For Encore, life is very simple - all manual, but simple. PrE semi-automatic, but gone is that simplicity.
ATR's article is necessarily long - there are a lot of steps, and he covers them well. There is also some necessary background, and again, it's covered well.
Print out that article, and go through his steps. Just pay attention to his noted naming conventions.
I also recommend doing modifications to Copies of the Library Assets, in case something goes wrong. Many users have messed up their Library Menu Sets and had to do a Repair Install to get them back.
Good luck, and patiently work through things. You will probably find that it's easier than it looks - so long as you follow the directions.
I hear you, Bill. This is an especially difficult question because you need to have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements at hand in order to address a PrE issue, so none of the usual books cover it. ATR's docs are good, but I also wish that Adobe saw fit to document its own products.
Well, my books certainly do cover it, step-by-step, FWIW.
In any event, I've taken the liberty of custom-created the templates for you. You can pick them up at http://Muvipix.com.
I've also given you detailed instructions on how to use them in my response to your post the Muvipix Community forum.
Well, at some point there is a break in the product lines. That is where books, like Jeff Bellune's, come in. They bridge that product gap. Often, one has to look beyond the Help files. It's the same with PrE and Steve Grisetti's books. He takes one beyond the Help files. They address the individual pieces and where you access them, and tells the reader how to use those in real world video editing with the program.
This is also often done (does differ by author) in the Adobe Press Classroom in a Book series. One example, CiaB Premiere CS4, by Curt Wrigley, goes deeply into the "why," and does not stop at the "how."
Outside of Adobe Press, there are several books on creating Menus for DVD's in PS, so the material is out there. Considering the power of PS, I probably own 30 books, on various aspects, such as commercial printing from PS, Web design using PS, many on photography for work in PS, and some on other, rather esoteric uses, plus the ones for using the Filters and Effects in PS. The material is out there.
Now, PrE is designed to be rather a turnkey solution to video editing to DVD/BD, so it does not surprise me that Adobe does not go into detail on how to edit the Menu Sets - the vast majority of users would never wish to do that.
I have lobbied Jeff Bellune to re-write his book, to update it to the new Encore, with Adobe Dynamic Link to AfterEffects and PrPro, plus the authoring of BD. Unfortunately, Encore is now ONLY included with PrPro - you cannot buy a stand-alone copy of that great authoring program. Focal Press realizes that ONLY PrPro owners will have it, so the market for such a book is limited, and have no plans for a new, updated version of Jeff's book. When one is going to publish a book, they must have a market for it. At least Steve includes instructions in his, though he covers much, much more, regarding PrE specifically and both video shooting and editing very well too.