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Custom Patches in DVD Studio Pro 4, Part 3

Adding custom motion shapes to buttons By Dave Nagel
In the first two parts of this tutorial series, we looked at how to create motion masks and custom highlights for buttons. This time around, we're going to substitute our own motion graphics into the patches--the final step in basic patch-based button creation.

For those unfamiliar with them, patches are packages that DVD Studio Pro accesses to enable special features for buttons. Why are they important? If you're familiar with standard Photoshop-based button creation, you know you're limited to still shapes, highlights and masks. But with patches, you can use motion shapes and masks to help you create greater impact in your menus. You can also use them, as we'll see in future installments in this series, to add filter-like effects to buttons, allowing you to create some basic templates, then just drag and drop existing footage into the buttons and have the effects applied on the spot, rather than having to alter the footage itself. (I think this particular aspect is most useful for event videographers, who can create, for example, a base custom wedding template, then use that template for multiple clients without wasting time customizing footage for each individual project.)

If you haven't done so already, you'd do well to go back and read the previous two articles in this tutorial series to get a grasp on the basics of working with patches. You can find them at the following links:

Part 1: Creating motion masks for patches
Part 2: Creating custom highlights for patches

The setup
What you know already is that patch shapes are composed of at least two elements: a mask and a highlight. The mask, simply, defines where the asset for your button with show through on your menu. If you create a star-shaped mask, you can drop any asset onto it, and it will only be visible within that star shape. Outside the star shape, the menu background will be visible. The other element is the highlight. This, of course, is just a graphic used to help the viewer identify which button is selected. In patches, both of these elements are contained in individual files: a TIFF image for the highlight, a QuickTime movie or still image for the mask.

But patches aren't limited just to these two elements. This time around, we'll introduce a third element into our custom patch-based buttons: a shape file. As with regular Photoshop-based buttons, a shape is simple a visible element in your button that goes along with your asset. Think of the shape as a frame: The asset is the picture within the frame; the mask defines the cut-out through which the picture shows; and the shape is the frame itself. Of course, shapes don't have to be simple rectangular affairs, but that's the basic idea.

What patches allow you to do is to set the shape in motion in any way you can conceive. What you need to accomplish this is one of Apple's supplied shape files, which you'll modify to suit your own needs by replacing the default elements with your own custom elements, and a motion graphics application for creating the motion shape file. In my case, I'm once again using Apple Motion 2 for the creation of my shape, but any application that can output a QuickTime movie will be fine.

For this particular project, we'll be using the patch shape called LightFrameLowerNTSC, which just happens to be the patch shape that will be the easiest to modify in this case, allowing up to create our motion graphics files and drop them in without any further modification.

So, to get started, quit DVD Studio Pro, and locate the .pox file that contains the elements for LightFrameLowerNTSC. You will find it at [Hard Drive]/Library/Application Support/DVD Studio Pro/Apple/Patches/LightFrameLowerNTSC.pox.

Copy this file and move it into the following directory: [Hard Drive]/Library/Application Support/DVD Studio Pro/Patches/. Then rename the duplicated .pox folder so that you won't get it confused with the original later on. I'll call mine "Nagel10.pox," which is easy enough for me to recognize.

Now, if you go exploring inside the duplicated .pox folder, you'll see several things: a highlight file, a couple of property files ("Patch" and "Patch Properties"), a thumbnail and a folder called "Material."

Inside this Material folder, you'll find three files. They have long names that are a string of letters and numbers, followed by a .mov extension. These are three elements of the patch, as follows:

2BA9610A-BCB4-11D7-B677-000393AE67F4.mov: This is the mask for your asset.
2C65BD50-BCB4-11D7-B677-000393AE67F4.mov: This is an odd thing that acts as a mask for the shape file itself. Personally, I don't get why it's there, but I understand its function, and I'll show you what to do with it later on.
29A40AF4-BCB4-11D7-B677-000393AE67F4.mov: This is the actual shape file.

These are the three things we need to replace with our own elements in order to complete our custom shape.

The shape file
The concept for my shape file for this tutorial is a simple one. I'm going to have a brushes metal background for my menu, and I want a section of that background to retract and slide away kind of like an aperture. Here's how it will look. (I've removed the highlight altogether just so you can see it more clearly.)

Okay, so the idea is that the buttons (this being only one of them that will be in the final menu) will not be apparent initially, but then they'll reveal themselves, finally closing back up prior to the menu loop.

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Related Keywords:dvd studio pro custom patches, patches, patch shapes, buttons in DVD Studio Pro, Apple DVD Studio Pro

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