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Tips to achieving crisp menu text?

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Stephen Pickering
Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Jul 13, 2012 at 2:44:06 am

Hi there,
I know I can't expect a whole lot from a compressed SD menu, but are there any tips to getting a little clearer titles (as in button text)? If I use the different text modes "sharp" "Crisp" "Strong" "Smooth" the text looks good, but the highlight is very ugly (I know this is because it can't have aliasing or softening around the edges so instead converts even the soft edge to a hard edge.)
I've resorted to underlines and symbols (in Photoshop) instead of text highlights, but sometimes text would be preferred.
Is this just something to live with or are there some manual tricks that can be done in order to make it ANY more appealing?
Thanks,
Stephen



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Roger Hendrick
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Jul 13, 2012 at 10:11:39 pm

You can map a single pixel outline (one other color of the four allowed) to a different color or opacity and achieve a "dithering" effect. I'm assuming you're using full raster text on the menu background and using the subpicture overlay to be the "highlight" - in these cases I use font effects (drop shadow etc) in the back ground such that they will obscure the aliasing of the subpicture overlay (keeping the subpic text inside the background text and not using 100% opacity).

Here's a quick example.

http://i.imgur.com/TxozO.jpg

I always save my subpictures in Index Mode using only red, white, black and blue so I'm sure my aliasing is even and the lines are crisp. When high bit color images are sampled down to 4 bit the interpolation can be really messy and unexpected.

Roger Hendrick
The Airship Factory
http://www.airshipfactory.com
HD Video Production - Blu-ray Authoring


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eric pautsch
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Jul 14, 2012 at 1:40:40 am

Nice Roger!

There's also a PS plug-in:

http://home.comcast.net/~c.linke/dvdsub/



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Stephen Pickering
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Jul 16, 2012 at 11:29:45 pm

Thank you both for your replies. I guess I've never looked into how the 4 colors work. I'll start reading up on that and I'm sure I'll be back with more questions. In the past I've added the shadow behind the main text, so that the highlight subpicture isn't so jarring.

The menu still seems to have a TON of artifacting when encoding (even just a still PSD menu). The shadow usually helped this a little, but sometimes a shadow is not appropriate. Is there a way to compress the menu as a higher bitrate than what it's default is making?

Thank you again for your time in explaining this stuff.

-Stephen



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Roger Hendrick
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Jul 17, 2012 at 3:09:20 am

Now I'm unsure if you're talking about the background or the subpicture overlay (or both).

Maybe you could post it for us to look at.

I didn't realize I was on the Encore forum so take my comments as DVD spec related.

Most DVD Authoring programs, when importing still menus automatically encode the MPEG2 still at 8Mbps, so it wouldn't necessarily get any better if you encoded it on it's own (as a video clip). You may try to import using a TIFF instead of a PSD.

You need to make sure you're looking at, and providing, what is required (and limited) for DVD. In it's most basic form - a TIFF (or TGA), RGB, 16bit, flattened, 720*480 (for NTSC), 72 dpi, square pixel (you should compose with pixel aspect correction)... avoid serif fonts (or any small fonts), respect title safe and NTSC color gamut and remember that all DVD playback is inherently interlaced. Thin lines can "buzz". Pay attention to the overall complexity of the menu. Since the encode is MPEG2 there are only so many bits to go around. Gradients and small patterns can lead to compression artifacts where you don't want them.

Remember, DVD's were meant for SD CRT TV's with analog component video. Computer playback and plasma/LCD monitors came later. Make sure you have a good reference monitor and an assortment of players, at least something you trust. Then you can suss out the results coming from players that upscale (or don't), flat screens with different refresh rates and computer playback which may be software de-interlaced... all of which can look a little different.

Roger Hendrick
The Airship Factory
http://www.airshipfactory.com
HD Video Production - Blu-ray Authoring


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Stephen Pickering
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Jul 17, 2012 at 3:43:53 am

Thanks Roger. Tomorrow I'll get a screen grab of the menu to show what I mean about the artifacting. I was using PSDs for the menues (which Encore created for me, then let me open and edit in Photoshop). The specs were what you mentioned. When I looked at the dvd folder the menus are being made into Mpgs but I thought they would be better, although I'm used to motion menus where moving backgrounds can hide a lot of poor encoding.
I'll post a screen gab soon to see if I can improve this at all.
Thanks,
Stephen



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Joe Walker
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Sep 12, 2013 at 2:55:17 am

I've been creating menus for about 10 years for mostly Spruce, Scenarist, and DVD Studio Pro. I've been strictly graphics and animation, while a coworker has been the author. I've always provided indexed files for overlays using Red, Blue, Black, and White for transparent background and providing callout colors. I use the blue and black for antialiasing around the edges.

So, I've changed companies and the new facility is all CC based and i've been trying to find the equivalent workflow in Encore. Does it not support indexed files? Is there an equivalent method for fudging antialiasing?

I tried using the layer naming method described in the manual, but had to index, convert back to RGB, separate the pixel colors to layers, etc., etc. To say this is a pain in the ass is an understatement.

Is there another way to fake antialiasing in Encore? My overlays look like amateur garbage.

Thanks in advance


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Stephen Pickering
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Jul 17, 2012 at 3:29:15 pm

Is this filter CS6 64bit compatible? Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but no matter where I drop it Photoshop doesn't seem to see it.



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Roger Hendrick
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Jul 18, 2012 at 3:57:01 pm

That may be true, it's an old plugin. All it does is map the full RGB to the four subpicture colors in a fixed way - all reddish colors get forced to 255,0,0, blueish get pushed to 0,0,255 etc. If you start with using the correct subpicture colors to begin with you don't need it. They are 255 RED, 255 BLUE, 255 WHITE and 0 BLACK. If you use Index Color mode and set it to those 4 custom colors olny you'll get the right output (no surprises).

Roger Hendrick
The Airship Factory
http://www.airshipfactory.com
HD Video Production - Blu-ray Authoring


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Todd Musleh
Re: Tips to achieving crisp menu text?
on Mar 22, 2015 at 1:55:05 pm

Roger, thanks for the picture and explanation. The text in your picture, how did you generate it? The only way to generate text like that, based on my limited experience, is from a special text graphic. I will have to look at that for my next project. Right now I have been avoiding text overlay highlights.

I went back to my menus and took the anti aliasing off the highlight text and that is the crap it looks like on screen. I will have to try your method for sure.


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