Unit 58: DVD Menu Design and Authoring

When you buy a DVD you would expect it to begin with a ‘Start Menu’ screen – with the basic options of ‘Play’, ‘Special Features’ and ‘Scene Selection’. Some DVD  menus will offer more categories within the ‘Special Features’ section, such as a ‘Director’s Commentary’, ‘Music Videos’, ‘Behind the Scenes’, ‘Interviews with the cast’, ‘Deleted Scenes’ and perhaps even ‘Games’.

DVDs have a non linear nature, meaning the viewer does;t have to watch it from start to finish. The audience can choose to start half way through the film if he/she chooses or not watch it at all and just look at the extra features. In some ways, the DVD menu is a little bit like a website. All of the pages and buttons need to be linked together to make it more user friendly and to avoid bombarding the user with options, a second menu page is often used.

The DVD menu will also allow the audience to decide which language they want to watch the film in as well as whether or not they require the addition of subtitles. This makes the DVD viewing experience very different to going to the cinema and when watching a DVD you can pause, rewind or forward. An important thing to remember is that DVD menus are there to make things easier for the viewer, so sometimes a more basic approach is the best approach.

Motion Graphics are often used in DVD menus. This is because it gives the viewer an idea of what the movie will be like. It can also suspend the viewer from the world around them.  The menu for Hotel Transylvania instantly gives viewers an idea of the world set up in the film and gives an introduction to the character and the basic story line.  This menu for Indiana Jones and the Raider of the Lost Ark shows the options on the main menu. ‘Play’, ‘Set Up’, ‘Special Features’ and ‘Scene Selection’ are the main options and within them you can change the language, chose subtitles, chose which scene you want to start watching from. There are previews for each chapter and they’re given a simple name for the user knows exactly where they’ll be starting from. Within Special Features, there is an introduction, storyboards, pictures and deleted scenes. The Indiana Jones theme is present on each page, drawing audiences into the film’s world and the colour scheme matches a desert, where the film is based.

The use of colour is crucial in DVD menu design. It can link back to themes within the film and attracts attention whilst setting the mood.

There are several different DVD formats:

  • DVD-R: The DVD-R is the most familiar kind of DVD. It can record up to 4.7GB and once recorded and finalised it can be played in most DVD-ROM players. It will only burn once and is not re-writable.
  • DVD+R: The DVD+R is pretty similar to the DVD-R however it can burn much quicker and it has more memory.
  • DVD+RW: With the DVD+RW you can write date onto the disk multiple times and not damage the disk as you erase the existing data on it. It doesn’t need finalisation to be played in a DVD player.
  • DVD-ROM: The DVD-ROM can be single sided/single layered, double sided/single layered,  single sided/ double layered or double sided/double layered. However double sided disks have been rarely produced since 2004.
  • DVD-RAM: The DVD-RAM is similar to the DVD-RW, it can be erased and new data can be added multiple times however the DVD player used in conjunction must accept DVD-RAM disks (and not all do).
  • DVD-R DL and DVD+R DL: The DVD-R DL and the DVD+R DL are Dual Layer disks. The disk has two layers of data on a single sided disk, they’re more expensive to produce than DVD-R and the DVD+R. They can be played on most DVD players.

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