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Button Tricks in DVD Studio Pro 4, Part 2

Modifying asset tint, saturation and transparency By Dave Nagel
In our last article on button tricks in DVD Studio Pro 4, we looked at a method for rotating buttons. This allowed us to create presets so that we could easily vary the angle of our menu elements. We'll continue the button modification process this time around with a look at how to control the saturation, tint and overall opacity of button objects.

I should warn you that, as with the previous tutorial in this series, this technique is not as easy as simply modifying an asset in a motion graphics program, adding effects there and then using the resulting asset in a menu button. However, this technique can be useful in the case where you might have many projects containing tons of menu elements, and you want a way to apply effects to the buttons without having to render out new footage in every single case. For example, you might have a need to apply a sepia tint to your menu buttons. Would it be easy for you to import video into a motion graphics app, apply a sepia tint filter and then render out the new footage to use as an asset in your menu? Yes. But it would also be time-consuming if you had to do that with dozens of video assets. So it could actually save you time simply to create a sepia tone button style preset and apply that within DVD Studio Pro.

So that's what we're looking at this time around: not just simple button styles and shapes, but actual effects that are applied on the fly within DVD Studio Pro. The modifications we make will be saved as "patch shapes" for use in DVD Studio Pro, so you can apply them as simply as applying any other button style to a menu element.

In this case, we're going to look at how to create button styles in which the colors of the assets used in the buttons are modified--in terms of tint, saturation and overall opacity.

In order to accomplish this, we're going to take off from where we left off the last time around. So it would benefit you greatly to go back and read the previous installment in this series because we're going to be modifying the exact same property list file we modified last time--just doing different things to it.

So, if you haven't done so already, please go back and read part 1 of this series. You'll find it by clicking the following link:

? DVD Studio Pro Button Tricks, Part 1: Rotation

You'd also likely benefit by going back and reading our previous series of articles dealing with the creation of custom patches in general. You'll find them at the links below.

? Part 1: Custom Motion Masks
? Part 2: Custom Highlights
? Part 3: Custom Moving Shapes

Links to other tutorials on DVD Studio Pro can be found at the end of this article.

By way of preparation, you will need one of two programs available for modifying "property list" files. These property list files (or .plist) contain parameters and settings that a program uses to determine the behavior of various properties in an application. For our purposes here, these .plist files contain information that affects how a button looks in a menu in DVD Studio Pro whenever you use a particular custom patch.

In order to access these parameters to make changes to them, you'll need to open the .plist files in either Property List Editor or PlistEdit Pro. (There are many other applications out there that can do this as well, but I can't vouch for them.) Property List Editor is supplied by Apple itself and is a part of the Developer Tools software you may already have on your computer. If you do have it, it's located at the root of your hard drive in a folder called "Developer." If you don't have it or would rather use a more full-featured editing program, you can download a shareware program called PlistEdit Pro from http://homepage.mac.com/bwebster/plisteditpro.html. That's the one I use for the simple reason that it's more advanced than Property List Editor and has search functionality, so you won't always have to hunt for specific parameters manually.

Locating and opening the .plist file
For this exercise, we'll be modifying the properties of an existing custom patch--the one that we created in the previous installment in this series. However, Since you're probably using that file for something else, we'll simply duplicate it and rename it so that we wind up with a new patch, rather than replacing an old one.

To duplicate the previous patch you created, go to [Hard Drive]/Library/Application Support/DVD Studio Pro/Patches. Locate the patch you wish to copy, then right-click and and select "Duplicate" from the contextual menu that pops up. In this case, I'll be duplicating my previous patch, which was called "Nagel13.pox." (If you do not have a custom patch to modify, please see the previous article in this series for instructions on how to create a new one.)

The resulting file, in my case, is called "Nagel13.pox copy." I'll rename it Nagel14.pox," making sure to remove the "copy" from the end of the folder's name.

Once you've renamed the folder, you're going to navigate inside it to [PatchName.pox]/Contents/. Here you'll find a file called "Patch," which is cleverly disguised as a Unix executable file. But it's not. It's actually a property list file.

To open it, right-click on the file, and choose Open With > PlistEdit Pro from the contextual menu (or whatever other application you want to open it with).

Modifying saturation
Before we get into tint and opacity, I wanted to show you how to modify the saturation of this particular preset. The reason is that we started off with a patch that was originally designed to desaturate the asset completely. But you may not want to work with a desaturated asset. So here's how you modify saturation in this preset--either restoring full saturation, muting colors just a little bit or oversaturating the asset.

Okay, you have your .plist file opened, and you now know, basically, how to get around inside this .plist file, since we worked with it before. So I'll spare you those details this time around.

Instead, I'll simply tell you where to go. After expanding the "Root" key, navigate through the following circuitous path: RootChunk > NamedSubChunks > Oxygene Patch > NamedSubChunks > PatchElements > NamedSubChunks > GroupHierarchy > NamedSubChunks > InstantialModuleList > IndexedSubChunks > 4 > NamedSubChunks > PluginData > NamedSubChunks > Loop Generator Basic.

I know it's a long, weird way to go, but that's where the saturation parameters for this patch are located.

Okay, here, within the Loop Generator Basic setting, you'll see a number of parameters. The ones that concern the saturation effects for this patch are "Max Value" and "Min Value." If you've been following along in this series, these values are currently set at 0.15000 each.

Those numbers basically mean that the image is desaturated. In order to give your asset full saturation, you'd leave the Min Value setting alone, and bump the Max Value Setting up to 1 (or something like 0.85, if you don't want to risk exceeding NTSC legal colors). In the example below, I've set the Max Value to 1.

And here you see, on the left, a button using the previous Max Value setting of 0.15. On the right, we have the button using the new Max Value setting of 1.

If I don't want full saturation like that, but just something in between fully saturated and fully desaturated, I can enter a Mac Value of something like 0.5. The button on the right in the example below shows a Max Value setting of 0.5.

And then I can also boost the saturation up to oversaturation levels, which can create a pleasing effect in some cases. To do this, I'd just adjust the Min and Mac Value settings both up to 1. The button on the right below shows this setting.

And, obviously, you can do anything in between to play around with your buttons' saturation effects. And you can create separate presets for each stage, if you wish, so that it will be simple for you to apply these effects to buttons in the future.

So there you have the basic saturation/desaturation effects. To test this out, save the .plist file, and launch DVD Studio Pro. (You must quit and relaunch DVD Studio Pro each time you add a new preset or make changes to an existing preset.) Create a new button with an asset, and then apply your new preset. (See the end of this article for an explanation of how to apply custom patches within DVD Studio Pro.)

Now we'll move on to tint and opacity.

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Related Keywords:dvd studio pro, button effects, button tricks, saturatioon, tint, sepia tone, opacity


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