Introduce Your MacBook to iDVD - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

Apple includes iDVD free with today’s MacBooks as part of iLife ’11. With iDVD, you can easily create beautiful presentations with animation and interactive menus that anyone can watch in a standard DVD player or computer DVD drive.

You have to supply your own digital video clips, background audio, and digital photographs, of course.


Take a moment to appreciate iDVD — no secondary windows to fiddle with or silly palettes strung out everywhere. Here are the highlights of the iDVD window:

  • Menu display: This section takes up the largest part of the iDVD window, with good reason. You create your project here. In this case, Menu refers to your DVD Menu, not the menu at the top of your MacBook’s display. iDVD can also show other information within the Menu display, so it sometimes works a double shift (depending on what you’re doing).

  • Media pane: You add video, still images, and audio to your project from here, as well as tweak and fine-tune things. The Media pane actually comprises three separate panes. To choose a new pane, click one of these buttons at the bottom of the screen:

    • Themes: You apply themes (such as Travel Cards, Wedding White, and Baby Mobile) to your DVD Menu to give it a certain look and feel.

    • Buttons: These options apply to the item currently selected, such as drop shadows on your text titles or the appearance of your Menu buttons.

    • Media: From here, you can add media items, such as video clips and photos, to your Menu.

  • Add button: From this pop-up menu (which sports a dapper plus sign), you can choose one of three types of buttons to add to a project. The choices are

    • Add Submenu: Choose this item to add a new submenu button to your DVD Menu. The person using your DVD Menu can click a button to display a new submenu that can include additional movies or slideshows.

      A Menu can hold only a maximum of 12 buttons (depending on the theme you choose), so submenus let you pack more content on your DVD. (Older versions of the application allowed only six buttons, so don’t feel too cheated.) Anyway, each submenu you create can hold another 12 buttons.

    • Add Movie: Yep, this is the most popular button in the whole shooting match. Click this menu item to add a new movie clip to your Menu.

    • Add Slideshow: If you want to add a slideshow to your DVD — say, using photos from your hard drive or pictures from your iPhoto library — click this menu item.

  • Inspector button: Click this button to display the Inspector window for the current Menu or a highlighted object. From this window, you can change the look of an individual submenu button or an entire Menu.

  • DVD Map: Click the Map button to display the organizational chart for your DVD Menu. Each button and submenu that you add to your top-level DVD Menu is displayed here, and you can jump directly to a particular item by double-clicking it. Use this road map to help design the layout of your DVD Menu system or to get to a particular item quickly. To return to the Menu display, click the Map button again.

  • Motion: Click this button to start or stop the animation cycle used with the current iDVD theme. The animation repeats (just as it will on your finished DVD) until you click the Motion button again.

    Need a visual indicator of the length of your Menu’s animation cycle? Click View→Show Motion Playhead to display the animation playhead, which moves below the Menu display to indicate where you are in the animation cycle. As you can with other playheads in the iLife suite, you can click and drag the diamond-shaped playhead button to move anywhere in the animation cycle.

  • Edit Drop Zones: This button allows you to edit the look and contents of a drop zone on your Menu.

  • Preview: To see how your DVD Menu project looks when burned to a DVD, click Preview. You get a truly nifty on-screen remote control that you can use to navigate your DVD Menu, just as if you were watching your DVD on a standard DVD player. To exit Preview mode, click the Stop button on the remote control.

  • Burn: Oh, yeah, you know what this one is for — recording your completed DVD movie to a blank disc.