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Creating Alpha Transitions for DVD Studio Pro 3

Part 1: Transitions with assets By Dave Nagel
DVD Studio Pro 3 introduced a new feature called "alpha transitions," which is a fabulous tool that allows you to use (and reuse) QuickTime movies to transition between menus and tracks. What this means in practical terms is that in order to get these kinds of effects, you no longer have to do the compositing manually for each transition in your project; DVD Studio Pro handles it for you automatically. All you have to create are the base transition files.

This process is not a difficult one, but I'm going to take you though it step by step nevertheless because it is a bit involved. If you'd like to follow along but don't feel like actually creating your own files at this time, you'll also be able to download the sample movies used as examples in this tutorial.

For our first installment in this series, we'll look at how to create alpha transitions that include a foreground object that sweeps across the screen. (See the example below.) In this process, you will create two or three elements: a main transition movie (asset), such as an object, which will be composited on top of the transition elements; a background matte to define how the destination track or menu is revealed during the transition; and, if necessary, another matte file to define how the original track or menu is displayed during the transition. (This third step isn't always necessary; it depends on whether you have an alpha channel in your asset movie. To give you a visual idea of what we're going for here today, take a look at this completed project in which a transition occurs between two menus.

In the above example, the asset movie is, of course, the skater, which happened to have been created in a 3D program and rendered with an alpha. And the destination menu was revealed using a simple matte created in Adobe After Effects. These two files are then placed in side a folder, and that folder inside DVD Studio Pro's Transitions folder, and it's done.

Now to the details....

The asset movie
The main asset movie is the simplest part of the creation of a custom transition. There are three critical considerations here: first, that the asset be appropriate for a transition--something that moves across, up or down the screen or that fades in and out; second, that the asset have a vertical resolution of 480, 486, 534 or 540 if you're working in NTSC; and, third, that the asset have an alpha channel embedded. Without an alpha, you're going to have to spend a whole lot of time making a complex mask manually (assuming the asset is complex), and that sort of defeats the purpose of the whole process. Your best bets are to create either a still graphic and then move it around in a motion graphics application or to use a 3D program and render out an animation with an alpha, as I have for this project.

Here's the asset I'm using for this tutorial. (Note that this is scaled down to 640 x 480 and that its frame rate has been reduced to 12 FPS. It is usable as a transition to help you follow along, but the results won't be visually stunning.)

To download this movie, select the arrow button in the bottom right corner, and choose "Save As QuickTime Movie." (You must wait for the entire movie to load before this option becomes available.)

This file is named "Skater640.mov." Change its name to whatever you want the transition to be called. The name of the movie must match the name of the transition, though it can retain its ".mov" extension without causing a conflict.

Once you've created your primary asset movie, it's time to create your background matte.

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Related Keywords:apple dvd studio pro, alpha transitions, transitions explained, dvd transitions, menus

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