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Massive DVD Project

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John Hadwin
Massive DVD Project
on Nov 21, 2008 at 7:09:57 pm


I just had to share this with people that would appreciate it!



After several months of work FINALLY coming to fruition, I finished the largest DVD project I've ever been a part of.


The client is an archery company. They wanted a DVD that taught people how to perform everything from simple maintenance and setup on their bow, to advanced fine tuning on their bow. The archery industry is apparently an entirely different world, with an extensive and unique vocabulary (that often sounds like pig-latin), very specialized tools, specialized math/physic, and a lifetime of theory, skill, and experience that come right along with it. On top of this, the archery company manufactures quite a few different kinds of bows, each with its own setup procedure. Initially, I had no doubt that this project was far too big to fully comprehended.


Our tools were 1 3D guy, running Maya 2008, Shake 4.1, AfterEffects CS3, and Photoshop CS3 between a PC and an IMac, and me running Final Cut Studio 2, Shake 4.1, AfterEffects CS3, and Photoshop CS3 on a PowerMac G5 with Tiger. DVD Studio Pro would be the software of choice, though, if I had been able to export the same project in Flash (ie Encore) that would have been far more desireable. In fact, looking back on the entire experience, it would have been far more feasible to build this entire thing in Flash for the web! Nevertheless, after a week of planning, we determined that we would only be able to tackle such a massive project in generations. The first generation of this Bow Setup DVD would only feature the compound bow. If the DVD proved to be profitable, then future generations would include other bow types and more detailed "bow model by bow model" instructions.


Immediately, we decided that with content as boring as setting up one's bow, we wanted to make sure that everything in-between was captivating. So we wrote a kick butt First Play Intro for the DVD, that gave a nice smooth tour of the factory while the owner inspires the heck out of the bow user. The video is very surreal and sets the tone for what we wanted the DVD to feel like. This first play then leads into an up close and personal transitional video, where we modeled a 3D bow and flew through and around it like it was some giant star wars ship and as the audience is deposited in front of one of the bow's cams, the main menu kind of 'statics' onto that cam.


From the main menu (the first blue object at the top left of the screenshot) we wanted to use this 'up close and personal' tour of the bow as a means to delve deeper into the menu structure. So we created four levels of menus. The first would be the main menu, which started close up on the top part of the bow. When someone clicks a button on the main menu, the tour continues on down the bow toward the middle of the bow and stops at another kind of scenic vista. This is the second menu level. Clicking any button (except the main menu button) from here would send you on a tour further down the bow to the third level. And the fourth level likewise. As a result there is only one menu on level one (main menu), six menus on level two, and of course there are dozens of menus on level four. This continuity makes navigating the DVD fun and not-at-all confusing. For the archery company, it markets the ever-living heck out of the featured bow. It also lends a feeling of professionalism that goes FAR, FAR above anything their competitors can come up with. The viewer feels like they really have bought something of value.


The top left of the screenshot is our first play, intro transition, main menu, and our one and only easter egg (a zany "making of" video done in typical old WWII newsreel style). From there, the first vertical column of menus, scripts, and videos is the Basic Bow Setup option. The second column is the Advanced Bow Setup option. In either of these long detailed paths, a viewer may choose "Play All" or "Step by Step". Play all takes them through every relevant video and finally to the relevant "Step by Step" menu. Step by Step menus differ slightly between advanced and basic, but the general concept is that this is where the viewer can go to choose exactly what he wants to learn/teach/present. After each and every video the viewer is presented with a menu to play again, view the next video, go to the glossary, go to the step by step menu, switch to advanced or basic, or go to the main menu. This ensures that the viewer never gets lost in our DVD, making it simple to navigate from any point.


Most of the Horizontal part of the screenshot (the area with the most blue/menus) is the archery Glossary that we created. We utilized the head engineer for the archery company to define over four pages of archery terms. We then created a glossary where the viewer chooses which letter of the alphabet he wishes to lookup and then locates whatever archery term he/she is looking for. Once he finds it he clicks it and is presented with the definition. Many of these definitions have buttons inside their definitions that link to the relevant bow setup videos that involve that particular archery term. Many of them have relevant commercials concerning products made by the company. The company also sponsors two national TV shows. We decided to add the names of the shows to the glossary and then added buttons to watch the 30 minute shows themselves; all inside their relevant definitions. This makes our glossary very extensive, unique, and useful.


Then the far right top side of the screenshot is the "Visit Our Website" and "Additional Content" menus.
From the main menu if you choose the "visit our website" option, a 30 second video plays telling the viewer what's on the website and what the benefits are to using it. Then a menu pops up, along with the website (assuming they have their computer configured right). If they don't have their computer configured right, the menu tells them how to configure it, and it also simply gives the web address and the company's customer service phone number. The "Additional Content" option tells the viewer what all is available on the DVD-ROM portion of the disc, and how to access it (for dummies). On the DVDROM side is a PDF version of both the basic or advanced bow setup videos, the entire archery glossary in PDF form, several extra videos, relevant links to their website, archives of old bow manuals, tons more, and then our own credits.


Overall, this DVD is MASSIVE. I diligently programed every remote control button for each and every menu and video in the DVD. There will be no unexpected results when someone presses a remote button. There are thousands of buttons (ie: each glossary menu exploits the maximum number of buttons allowed by DVD Studio Pro), scores of video tracks, scores of menus, and WAY more scripts than I've ever wanted to do in a lifetime. There are two separate "Play All" functions. At two points the advanced and basic paths meet, meaning that there are two GPRM modes for each, that's four more, plus, one of those has another two GPRM modes within itself. Including the normal mode, that's 9 different GPRM modes to keep track of, some of which had to be allowed to run at the same time!


After 3 MAJOR revisions, 1 week of planning, 4 months of 3D work, 2 weeks of DVD authoring, one month of filming, compositing, and editing, 6 hours of Voice Over work, and 4 months of learning everything about archery, we finished. Now the archery company has a powerful tool that answers a great unanswered demand within its industry and among its consumers. It will take their competitors forever to catch up. And we have an asset in hand that serves as a powerful marketing tool for our DVD Making services.


John Hadwin


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eric pautsch
Re: Massive DVD Project
on Nov 21, 2008 at 10:15:01 pm

Good work John! This is why I love DVD...to see what's possible!

Programming that many buttons can make you crazy. I'm in the middle of a project with 6,192 different buttons across 795 PGCs (menus). If I do 2 menus a night I calculate I'll be done by the March or April :) I'm using Scenarist so it will take me a bit longer than I'd like.



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Corey Rybicki
Re: Massive DVD Project
on Nov 22, 2008 at 7:47:17 am

[eric pautsch] "Programming that many buttons can make you crazy."

Phew....I thought it was just me.

This thread will definately help me get through my current project.

I should be leaving the cave by mid January....

Thanks guys,

Corey

By the way John...that's a beautiful web you've spun.



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John Hadwin
Re: Massive DVD Project
on Nov 24, 2008 at 4:07:09 am

Thanks! By the time I was done I had more patience than a hospital... wait... that pun doesn't really work in writing... oh well. Best of luck to you on your project.



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John Hadwin
Re: Massive DVD Project
on Nov 24, 2008 at 4:13:00 am

I feel your pain... However, I was using the baby software... the entire time I was thinking to myself (not specifically being a DVD author by trade), "There's no way in the world that Hollywood is using this crappy software for the real stuff. And now I see that you are all using Sonic software. Scenarist is apparently the most widely used (from a quick glance through the forums). How would you guys recommend someone like me getting up to speed with Scenarist? What is the price range?



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eric pautsch
Re: Massive DVD Project
on Nov 24, 2008 at 4:40:42 am

I wouldn't say DVDSP is crappy software. You'd be surprised how many titles are authored with it. I would say compatibility issues with Scenarist vs DVDSP would have been an issue 7-8 years ago but players have matured since then.

Here's a good place to start - it has survival guides and gives you a good run down of the spec.

http://www.dvd-replica.com/DVD/productinfo.php

Scenarist runs 5K these days.

Eric



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Michael Sacci
Re: Massive DVD Project
on Nov 21, 2008 at 10:23:53 pm

Sounds great, happy to hear that people are actually paying for creating some great stuff.



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