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Using Button Transitions in Encore

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Using Button Transitions in Encore

Postby Bill Hunt » Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:36 pm

I just completed one phase of an Encore Project, where I’ll use Button Transitions to get from my Menu to the Linked Timeline. Button Transitions allow one do things such as fade out the Menu and fade in the AV on the Timeline. The biggest trick is setting up your Project and then gathering the Assets in the right “condition.” A little planning at the initial stage goes a long way. Also, the integration of Premiere Pro (CS2 in my case), Encore and Photoshop is a real time saver.

First, I’ll outline the full Project, and you’ll see why in a moment. It is a 3 DVD-5 Project with between 4 and 7 Timelines (Chapters) per disc. Each Timeline is a large “slideshow,” with animation used on the static images.

I have a Play First AV on a Timeline in Encore. This leads directly to my Scene Selection Menu(s). These display static Thumbnails of each Timeline. Most have four Timelines, but two of the DVD’s have multiple Scene Selection Menus with either two, or three Timelines in addition to the four on the initial Scene Selection Menu. Now, let’s get started.

I have the Menus setup and ready to go. These were created in Photoshop and use the normal Button Layer Set naming conventions. They have all been Imported into a separate Project for each of the three DVD’s, and are ready to go. To create the AV file, that will be used as the Button Transition, I need to start with a still image of the Menu, just as it would be, when the user clicks on the Link. Here, we’ll Rt-click on the Menu in the Menu Editing Panel in Encore, and choose Edit in Photoshop. But wait, something isn’t quite right. The Video Placeholder, where the Poster Frame of each Timeline will appear are all blank. That’s not how this Menu will look to the user on the finished DVD. At this point, we need to do some more work, just as we’d do if we were not using Button Transitions. We need to set up the Project with Imported Assets on Timelines and Link all of our Buttons appropriately. This will fill in the appropriate Video Placeholder for us. Once done with the Importing and Linking, we can Rt-click on that Menu (complete with thumbnails now) and Edit in Photoshop. Encore will load a TMP .psd into Photoshop, but we want to be careful now, since our real Menus are just as we want them. We’ll be doing some operations, but care must be taken to NOT do any Saves. Only Save_As will be used. Do not mistake Save for Save_As, or you’ll have to go back and make a lot of corrections to the real Menus. Remember, we have two, three or four Buttons, depending on which Menu we’re working on here. The first one (DVD_01) has four Buttons, and is the only Menu on this particular DVD. We’re going to Save_As, once we complete a few operations and locate these new .psd’s in another folder, totally separate from our real Menus.

First thing that we have to do is determine exactly how this Menu will look, when the user clicks on it. Well, pretty much what we’re seeing in PS, but not quite. Button Highlights are turned off in the .psd Menu. They get turned on, one by one, as the user navigates to, or mouses over the Buttons. We need to turn the highlight ON for each Button, one at a time and do a Save_As for that state - once for each Button, so we’ll have four separate .psd’s that only differ by the Button Highlights.

When you open up/expand a Button Layer Set in PS, you’ll see that the Button Highlight Layer’s eyeball is blank. Encore will “turn on” this sub-Layer, based on user actions. We need to turn the Button Highlight on for Button #1. Now, if you haven’t spent a lot of time with Menus in PS, it’s a bit counter-intuitive that Button #1 will be at the bottom of the stack of Button Layer Sets in the Layer’s Palette. I usually close all Button Layer Sets, when my Menu is complete, so we’ll open up the Button #1 Layer Set to see the sub-Layers. We click on the eyeball, to activate and make visible Button #1's Highlight. OK, this is exactly what the user would see, if they click on Button #1. At this point, we’ll Flatten the Layers (twirl-out arrow at the top of the Layer’s Palette) and click OK, when asked if we wish to discard invisible Layers. The reason to do so is because we do not want the other Button’s Highlight Layers in our new .psd, just the one for Button #1.

Once Flattened, we’ll have just one Layer, Background. I Dbl-click on it, to make it a Photoshop Layer, not the Background. Then we do a Save_As. I assign a name, that indicates the DVD #, Menu 01, or 02 (for the DVD’s that have two Scene Selection Menus) and we’re done for this Menu and Button #1. Only three more Buttons to go. Photoshop has a nice feature, the History Palette. If you look at it now, you’ll see the first notation = “Open,” and then the other operations that we performed. We’ll click on Open to get us back to the un-Flattened version. Note, all Button Highlights are back to being off. This is good, as we want only Button #2's Highlight on for the next Save_As. Open Button #2's Layer Set and click it’s Highlight Layer’s eyeball. Follow the steps above and do a Save_As for the Menu with Button #2 Highlighted. Back to History and Open, and do it again, and again, until we’ve got four .psd’s of this Menu. Repeat for each Button on each Menu in the set.

Now that we have what will be the first few frames of our Button Transition, we can gather up what will be the last few frames. In my case, I just opened each Sequence in PP and did an Export>Frame of the first frame of each. As these were still images, I could have navigated to the folder with those Assets, but I wanted to be 100% certain that the frame that I used was exactly as the viewer would see it, without the Button Transition. If the Button Transition is going to match up and appear seamless, we must use the exact images on each end.

In my case, I was using a 3D animation as the middle of my Button Transition AV. Each was different, but all ran about 10 sec. One could just use the Menu .psd (for each individual Button from above) and the Export>Frame of the first frame of the Sequence, and do a Dissolve between them. I had one additional element to put into the middle.

In PP, I created a Project with a Sequence for each Button. In Edit>Preferences>General, I set the Duration for stills to be 90 frames long, prior to Importing the .psd’s. Once set, I just do a regular Import and select “Footage” and “Flatten Layers.” All of the first elements (the Menu) and the last elements (the frame caputes) come in. Place the first Menu .psd on the Timeline, followed by the animation AV and then the appropriate frame capture. Add the Transition of choice and you’re almost done. Remember, we could have used just the Menu .psd and the frame capture .psd and done one Dissolve. If I were doing that, I’d have set the Duration of my stills Import to about 300 frames. We want a little footage to work with but Button Transitions need to be very short.

I added a single SFX Clip, kind of a “fly-by,” with a gong note that builds in the middle. Because the DVD set will have DD 5.1 Surround Sound, I created my Project with that preset, and set each Sequence up with a 5.1 Master. This allows me to both pan the sound and move it back to front to back during the ~13 sec. I adjusted the levels of the SFX and then Exported>Adobe Media Encoder as MPEG with DD 5.1 SS (AC3). Unlike most of my Exports, that go to Encore, I chose the DVD Multiplexing. Button Transitions are unlike other Assets in Encore. They cannot be on a Timeline, so if you want Audio, you cannot use elemental streams, as I always do otherwise.

Once Exported from PP, I just Import_As_Asset into Encore and stick these into a Bin/folder named Button Transitions. How clever of me to name the Bin that way!

Remember that our Menus’ Buttons are already linked back in Encore. That’s how we got the thumbnails, when we went to Edit in Photoshop. Now, there’s but one more step in the creation process. Dbl-click on the Menu to get it into the Menu Editing Panel, and click on Button #1. A bounding box will form, and in the Menu Properties Panel, you have a drop-down and the Pickwhip for Linking a Button Transition. I just drag the Pickwhip to the proper MPEG (see why we named the .psd’s for both the Menu and the Button #? The MPEG Links and is ready to go.

I always do Saves when in about any of my Adobe programs, PP, Encore, PS, Illustrator. Ctrl-s becomes a habit. I’d do one now. It’s time to do a Preview to see how the Button Transition looks. If you used .psd’s created from the exact Assets (a Menu and the first frame of a slideshow in the Timeline/Sequence of PP, like we did), it should appear that when Button #1 is activated, the Menu dissolves into the 3D animation, which dissolves into the slideshow. Since we used the exact Assets, we don’t have to worry about PAR, or anything else - we got it right from the start.

Now, you can use Button Transitions for a few more tricks. Maybe you want a graphic to appear, when the Button is activated, but you already have the thumbnail with the Button. How do you do this? Create two Menus, we’ll call them A (our first) and B (our second, which is a dupe). Use a Button Transition that starts with the exact state of Menu A and ends with Menu B, to which we have added our graphic. Put a Cross-Dissolve between the still frames from the two Menus, and it will “appear” that a graphic has popped-up on the Menu. In reality, the user has been taken to a second, almost identical (except for the graphic element) Menu. Here you WILL want the Button Transition to be short, as no Buttons will work for the duration of this Transition.

Just remember to plan first, do any Linking of your Menu, before you Edit in Photoshop, only use Save_As from PS, keep your Button Transitions short and Import them into Encore as an Asset and NOT a Timeline.


[Edit] One thing that I should point out is that if you have a Motion Background, or Motion Thumbnails, you will have a little problem - you have no control on where either will be, when the user hits the Button. Compromises will have to be made for this.
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Bill Hunt
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