Using DVD Lab
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File Types and DVD Lab
Elemental streams allowed for DVD Lab Pro video clips:
Video - mpv (MPEG-1 Video) or m2v (MPEG-2 Video)
Audio - AC3, mp2, mpa, wav - or from audio stream in mpg
NOTE: no MP3. Although many other DVD authoring utilities allow mp3 files, DVD Lab does not (neither does Adobe Premiere). Convert it to mpa using TMPGenc Plus
VMG vs VTS menus - upon opening the program, you will see options to use either both a VMG and VTS menu with the movies, or just a VTS menu with movies. Select the option to Use one VTS Structure with multiple menus. Each VTS can have a max of 99 Movies and 250 menus.
allowable DVD Audio format - for mpg audio tracks or menu background music - 16bit, 48kHz - AC3, MPA or WAV files
DO NOT use the Music Bin to store Menu Background music - it is only for very short clips. Put them in the "Video and Audio" bin instead. Then to add background music to a menu, just drag the audio file and drop it into an empty area of the menu.
Frames - when you click the "Objects" Tab at the
bottom, you will see several tabs above, with one tab for "Frames".
These are special objects in that they are the only objects that when
dropped on a button or image in the menu . . . will
automatically size themselves to the edges of that object. At the same
time they actually "take over" the object's link. They DO NOT PAIR
themselves to the object and there is no logical linking created between the
two. Instead, the frame takes over the link from the object, and the
object becomes nothing more than a picture on the menu with no links.
Once you have dropped a frame onto an object or image, it will initially size itself properly. However, after that, if you resize the frame or more it - the underlying object will not resize or move. Remember, the frame strips the object of its link, and resizes itself to the object - but after that they are two completely separate components with no logical linking between them !!!
CAUTION - once a frame has been dropped, the object will lose its link forever. The frame takes it. For example, if you have one frame of video "clip1.mpv" that you dragged and dropped into the Menu, and then linked it to the actual Movie, it will show that link to "clip1.m2v" when you click on it to select it. If you drag and drop a frame onto the image, and then later click to select it - you can only select the "frame", and it will now show that it has take over the link to clip1.m2v !!! The only way to select the image is to drag the frame away from it. If you do that, and click on the image, you will see that it has lost it's link to clip1.m2v In fact, if you drop a frame onto an object that is linked to a movie, and then decide you do not want the frame, and you delete it - since it took over the link fro the object . . . the object does not "retake" the link back, and the link is lost. So, whenever you delete a frame, you need to re-link the underlying object.
Add Background Audio to Menus
import an audio file in the assets window - it must be 48 kHz !!
goto the connections window and double-click the menu to view it
simply drag an audio file into the menu
Opening the Menu Properties Window - for setting colors, PBC for background audio, etc
This is suprisingly tricky - you MUST first drag an audio or videofile into the menu. It is a bug in the program. Because the only way to open the Menu properties box, is to right-click on the Video/Audio background bar (which does NOT show unless there actually IS a background video or audio file ).
So drag one there, and do as follows:
then click on the tab at the left that you want (in this case we clicked on "PBC" to set up the background audio parameters:
How to stop the Background Audio from looping !!! To
get the Background Music clip to play just once !! Even though this
seems to be a normal function that many people would want . . . DVD Lab does
not support it. You can only do this through an unusual workaround.
For example, you want to play a background audio clip that is 30 secs long, and then have the audio stop playing. That is, to play an audio file one time to "set the mood" of the DVD and then let the user have some quiet.
Here is the problem: you do not want to return to the previous menu (Root, which is "Menu1"). So in the connection box set menu2 to Return to "(SELF)". Here are the PGC settings I have tried, to no avail. The Help guide only gives 3 options for duration: inf (same as 255, in fact when you type in 255 it replaced that with inf - and when you type in 0 in there it gets replaced by a/v), a/v, or 0. I tried the following, to no avail:
Duration = 3 ForceActivate = 2 (Play Movie button) - audio plays 3 secs instead of the full 30 secs but audio loops forever
Duration = inf ForceActivate (greyed out) - audio loops forever
Duration = a/v (same as 0) ForceActivate = 0 - audio loops forever
Duration = a/v ForceActivate = 2 (Play Movie button) - audio loops forever, movie does not play
Duration = a/v ForceActivate = 1 (goto Root Menu button) - finally the audio does not loop - it plays just once but then goes back to root menu (Menu1)
Duration = a/v ForceActivate = 1 (goto Menu2 button - i.e. Self) - finally the audio does not loop - it plays just once but then goes back to root menu (Menu1) - even though the button is linked to "self" the menu changes back to the Root Menu - go figger !!
- open Menu2 and select Menu/Cloning . . . Clone the Menu to Menu 2B
- goto Connections Window, click and move Menu 2B into the correct position
- click once on Menu 2 to select it, and change the "End Link" to "Menu 2B"
- click once on Menu 2B to select it and change the "End Link" to (SELF)
- double-click Menu 2B to open it, and then click the small "x" at the left to remove the Audio Track
NOTE: before removing the track, the PBC duration will be "a/v", and then immdeiately, as soon as you remove the track it switches to "inf"
- check any buttons you have in Menu 2B that redirect the DVD, and make sure they are links properly - for example, the "Return to Root Menu" link
- finally, and here's the cool part - redraw all the movie "end links" to go to the cloned menu instead of the original menu. This way, if you have a bunch of video clips on the menu, as soon as the user clicks on one of them to watch . . . when it completes, he will be taken to the "silent" cloned menu and will not have to listen to the background music over and over again. The only way he will hear the music again is if he goes back to the root menu and then goes back to the sub-menu
NOTE: you cannot drag Playlist End links to and of the the sub-menus. Playlists can only link back to the Root Menu after completion.
Now when you open Menu2, the audio clip will play to completion, and then the End Link will send you to Menu 2B, where there is no Audio clip so you get silence
ForceActivate - this does not work properly for me. I tried to use it to goto a link fter the Menu background audio plays, and it would always go to the Root Menu - not the button I had numbered it as. I do not understand why ForceActivate is not working at all.
to test an audio clip - click once on the audio track underneath the menu (for background music) of Movie (for audio stream of a video clip) - it will open in a separate WMplayer window and play
Cloned Menus - this is a great feature.
However, you need to understand "grouping" and what happens "after" you have
cloned the menu, as you make edits.
Cloned Menus and Links - when you clone a menu, even if youi check the "Links" box, it seems to have no effect. The originating link to that menu is not cloned. So after you clone a menu, make sure to redo all the links that go "to" both menus, and redo all the "End" links. The links from the buttons within the menu will clone perfectly and those links do have to be changed, unless you specifically have a need to change them.
Objects that are Grouped - Cloned Groupings - it is very useful that all objects in the two menus - both the original and the clone - are linked together as a logical group at the time of cloning. This way, when you move or resize an object from one menu, the changes are automatically performed in the other menu as well. This works both ways, too. If you resize a button in the original menu, then the button in the cloned menu is resized automatically. If you resize a button in the cloned menu, then the button in the original menu is resized automatically.
Objects that are NOT grouped - if you add objects after the cloning is performed - they will NOT be added to the other menu and therefore there will NOT be a logical group created. Whenever you add objects to one of the menus of a clone pair - the other menu will NOT be updated automatically. Your only choice to keep them identical is to add an object to one of the menus, copy it, then paste it into the other menu. This will cause both menus to have the same object - however, the objects still will not be grouped, and any subsequent changes or edits will have to be done to either both menus - or to one of the menus and then copy and paste it over.
How to tell if an Object is Grouped - just click on the object to select it, and there will be a small arrow at the lower left. When the object is not selected there will be no arrow showing.
Playlists - if you create a menu with links to a bunch of video clips and you have each clip return to the menu after completion - you should also give the user the opportunity to run through ALL clips sequentially if they want to. To do this, add a "Playlist" and then select the movies you want to play in the playlist - and then add a link button in the menu to the playlist. Make sure you link the end of the Playlist to the Root menu . . . otherwise it will start the clips all over again after playing the last one. You cannot link the end of the Playlist to a submenu (Root Menu only).
menu transitions - few DVD authoring packages have these -
but they are awesome !! Here are a few from my own project:,
which are taken directly from the "menu VOB" which is always named: VTS_01_0.vob
Trouble Playing the Clip? Firefox Browsers have trouble with embedded WMV files - if you cannot play the file, click this link to launch WMplayer separately: Play Video
Keep in mind that if you generate a menu transition, for example - that goes from menu 1 to menu 2 - the program automatically inserts it it between the menus and the links to the menus. Then if you add another transition that is also from Menu 1 to Menu 2 - it will automatically REPLACE the previous transition. However, the transition will still be there and will even show an icon on the connection window - the thing is, it will not be connected by lines and therefore is non-functional - as shown below:
In general the best way is to NEVER create more than one link button from one menu to the next. Then you can either:
a) link the button from one menu to the next and then create a transition from that menu to the next and it will grab that link and insert the transition in between automatically.
b) can create the Menu1 to Menu2 transition first, before you have linked anything. It will automaticallly link the transition to Menu2, but you now have to manually link the button in Menu1 to the transition menu. So open Menu1, and drag the transition menu (it will be named "Menu1/Menu2") to the link button.
By the way, here are 3 oddities:
1) if you have multiple links from one menu to another (for example, 2 buttons in menu 1 link to menu2) - and then add a menu transition - both buttons will be linked to the transition.
2) if you have already created a menu transition from Menu1 to Menu2 and then add a new link in Menu1 and want to connect it to Menu2 - if you drage Menu2 to the new button it will NOT go through the existing transition. If you want it to go through the transition, then instead, drag the transition menu, called "Menu1/Menu2" to the button !!
3) lastly - and this is a surprise - if you have two buttons in Menu1 - where Button1 links to the Menu1/Menu2 transition and Button2 links directly to Menu2 - and then you create a 2nd Menu1/Menu2 transition . . . it will "grab" the existing Menu1 to Menu2 direct link that previously did not go through a transition and will cause it to go through the new transition !! Remember, whenever there is a menu-to-menu link that is not "already" going through a menu transition . . . . any new transition between those two menus will take over that link and reroute it through the new transition.
Insert a "Play First" video clip between the "First Play" icon and the "Root VTS Menu"
Test Compile - it is a huge time-saver, because multiplexing long movies is a most time consuming operation. The test complie routine replaces the movies with a dummy MPEG file as a place holder that shows a test screen with some statistics about the video clip, and plays a few seconds of the actual audio from the video clip. This will make the Compilation very brisk and you will be able to quickly test the overall layout and flow of links on your menus with a software DVD Player such as PowerDVD or CinePlayer.
Importing Menu Backgrounds - the size is strange but this is what the DVD-lab Help file recommends:
create a PSD file usin the dimensions shown in the table
add a new, Empty Menu to the connections window
double-click to open the blank menu
select Menu/Import Menu . . . from PSD
select the PSD file and it will become the background of the new menu
Typically you only need one VTS set, and you can place multiple menus (one Root menu and multiple sub-menus) under that set. You can also have submenus of submenus. BUT all movies in one VTS set must have the same frame size (720x480 for example), the same aspect ratio (4:3 for example) and the same type of audio format (AC3 for example).
If you want to add videos to your DVD that have different properties − for example, typically different aspect ratios − one is Full Screen (4:3) and the other Widescreen (16:9) − then you have to make at least two Video Title Sets and place each of the movies in its own VTS.
But DVD players cannot navigate from one VTS directly to another, and for this the DVD needs a go-between menu called VMG (Video Manager Group). The VMG menu acts as a hub. or connector for the different VTS Root menus.
NOTE1: the first VTS menu by default becomes the "Root", or "Main Menu". The other VTS menus will be sub-menus and can be used to reference large numbers of video clips to be played separately.
NOTE2: you will want the clips to finish and return to the VTS Menu that they were started from. So make sure to either draw connections for the returns, or click on the selector of where to link to upon completion. Otherwise, after each clip plays it will return to the Root Menu by default (not the VTS Sub-menu that the clip was played from).
NOTE3: You can include a "Playlist" button to play all the clips sequentially, or whatever ones you add to it, in that menu too as an option.
DVD Lab Bugs
1) Link Text under Buttons unreadable - quite often you need to
see what a menu object is linked to - so you click on the object and the blue
text underneath lists the link. Problem is, even with my glasses I cannot read
the text on my DVD menus, which are black. I can find no option to make the text
karger, nor any option to change the color of the text
2) Recompile "changes only" needed - sometimes I make the most minor change, such as drag a different link or remove an audio track, etc. I have 63 video clips in my projrect and EVERY time I compile, which takes over a half hour - they are all processed again. I am not asking for DVD Lab to give me options to only compile this, or that . . . . rather, it should keep a log of what was compiled, and then only recompile what needs to be changed
3) Connections Window Lines Overlap - the connections window is my favorite part of DVD Lab. However, they have made it so that almost all of the right-angle lines overlap so that there is no way to distinguish them. They lines should always be at least a millimeter apart so that they can be distinguished from one another
4) Render Motion sound synch is way off - to make motion buttons in Menus - the sound lags behind the video a whopping 3 to 4 seconds !!!
5) Render Motion Intro AND Looping cannot be done - I read the
guide very carefully on this and it does not make sense. The setup is this - I
have 8 buttons that are linked to video clips in Menu2. When I am at Menu1 and
click the link to go to Menu2, I want to see a black, black screen while the 8
buttons drop down from the top for a 3 second "Intro", and then each button will
continue to play video that loops for the last 7 seconds, using the "shuffle
loop" start option.
I do not want the text and buttons to show while the buttons are descending from the top. But the guide says:
"The Intro Effects determine how the objects appear during the Intro sequence. For example "From Top" will, during intro sequence, animate all objects from top part of screen to their current position. There are also two special cases Buttons Cut and All Objects Cut that don't have any animation. Buttons Cut will make all buttons invisible during intro (every other object will be visible). The buttons will then appear at once right after intro time. All Objects Cut will make all objects invisible duuring intro, except background. The objects will then appear at once right after intro time."
So I selected "All Objects Cut" in the drop-down box. BUT that removed my previous "From Top" selection, which removed the Intro. The whole idea behind cutting the buttons cut option is to do it "during the Intro motion". The guide even says, "All Objects Cut will make all objects invisible duuring intro". This does not make sense and it seems to be a catch-22. If you select "From Top" so that you have an "Intro", then you cannot select "All objects Cut". And if you select "All Objects Cut" . . . then you cannot select an option that creates an Intro.
There is only one drop-down box and the selections are all mutually exclusive. Any
6) Frames permanently take over the Link from the object they are dropped onto - once a frame has been dropped, the object will lose its link forever. The frame takes it. For example, if you have one frame of video "clip1.mpv" that you dragged and dropped into the Menu, and then linked it to the actual Movie, it will show that link to "clip1.m2v" when you click on it to select it. If you drag and drop a frame onto the image, and then later click to select it - you can only select the "frame", and it will now show that it has take over the link to clip1.m2v !!! The only way to select the image is to drag the frame away from it. If you do that, and click on the image, you will see that it has lost it's link to clip1.m2v In fact, if you drop a frame onto an object that is linked to a movie, and then decide you do not want the frame, and you delete it - since it took over the link fro the object . . . the object does not "retake" the link back, and the link is lost. So, whenever you delete a frame, you need to re-link the underlying object.
7) Cloned Menus - new objects not updated to the clone - if you add objects after the cloning is performed - they will NOT be added to the other menu and therefore there will NOT be a logical group created. Whenever you add objects to one of the menus of a clone pair - the other menu will NOT be updated automatically. Your only choice to keep them identical is to add an object to one of the menus, copy it, then paste it into the other menu. This will cause both menus to have the same object - however, the objects still will not be grouped, and any subsequent changes or edits will have to be done to either both menus - or to one of the menus and then copy and paste it over.
8) Stop Compiling does not work - the compile process can take up to 30 minutes on a complex DVD, an d many times you may realize you forgot something or want to change something. So you need to stop the compile, and you click the "Stop Compile" button . . . the problem is . . . it never stops !! The only way is to open Windows Task Manager (CTRL-Alt-Del) and shut down DVD Lab !!
9) Mysterious Error Message - "You have reached limit 128 Pre-commands in one or more of the objects" - on a rather complex DVD with 62 Video clips and 7 Menus, I received that error message during a Test Compile. Here is the exact message - it does not tell me which object/s I have reached the limit with - it also does not tell me what in the world a "pre-command" is :
You have reached limit 128 Pre-commands in one or more of the objects
Do you want to continue anyway (the commands above 128 will be ignored) ? (Yes/No)
Here is an excellent thread on the DVD Lab forum that talks about this error message. Unfortunately, the solution they talk about is to add "dummy menus" - however no one explains it well enough to understand it.