First, Get Your Assets Together

Before you can import a single image or video, everything needs to be in the right file format. Chances are, your images are already in the right format since iDVD will accept any QuickTime-compatible still-image file.


Graphic images can be formatted as TIFF, PICT, JPEG, or any other QuickTime format.

I use TIFF because it's a "lossless" format and I never want to throw away information I might need later.


That doesn't mean you should comb your hard disk and change all your images to TIFF. It's best to leave them alone if they're already in a QuickTime format. Every time you compress or re-save a file with compression, you take away resolution that can never be put back.

As a rule, you always want to use the best or highest-quality source material and let any degradation come from iDVD's compression when you burn the disc. After all, if you give iDVD a pixelated, overly compressed JPEG file, for instance, iDVD isn't going to make it look better, if you know what I mean.

The same rule about format holds true for video iDVD will accept almost any QuickTime-compatible video file (except QuickTime VR, MPEG-1, and formats with sprites). But that doesn't mean all video formats are created equal, at least not in the eyes of iDVD. You'll get the best results if video you intend to use in iDVD is exported (or saved) in the DV Stream format.


For the best results, Apple recommends using a video frame rate of 29.97 frames per second (fps), no compression for audio, and an audio rate of 48 kHz. That's probably what your DV camcorder outputs, so don't worry too much about it.

If you're using iMovie 3, you don't have to do anything iMovie does it all for you every time you save your project:


If you're using Final Cut Express or Pro do the following:

  1. Choose Export from the File menu, then choose QuickTime from the Export sub-menu.


  2. Choose DV Stream from the Save dialog pop-up Format menu.


  3. Click the Save button to save the exported DV Stream file to disk.

If you want to check export settings, click Options instead of Save.


Speaking of options, if you're sending your DVD across the briny seas to Europe, that is make sure you use the right format for videos. Since our Euro-pals have tellies that use the PAL format rather than NTSC, there are two additional steps you need to perform.

  1. When you export your movies from your video-editing software, you need to choose the PAL format and a frame rate of 25 fps.

  2. Before you import your movies into iDVD, choose Preferences from the iDVD menu, click the General button in the toolbar (it looks like a lightswitch), then select the PAL option, as shown in Figure 5.1.

    Figure 5.1. It's important to let iDVD know if you want to use the PAL format before you start your iDVD project or you'll have to start from scratch.



For more about video standards, formats, and compression in general, see Appendix B.

Resolution also matters. The ideal size for graphic images is 640 x 480 pixels. If your images have a different proportion, a couple of things can go wrong: Either the images won't fill the entire menu or button, leaving you with undesirable black bars in the empty space; or iDVD will resize the image, making it distorted or pixelated. To make your images fit the DVD window exactly, use a photo-editing application to resize the image to 640 x 480. For images being used as a button, any width and height with a 4:3 ratio will work.

Nobody wants a squashed ancestor, but that's just what I got for importing a wrong-sized graphic into iDVD:



This is supposed to be my infamous uncle Yogi LeVitus, who once said, "Don't squish my picture if you can avoid it."

Sometimes iDVD displayed this image with black bands on either side:


Neither of these alterations is what I wanted. So I put the image of Uncle Yogi back into my image editor (Photoshop 7, if you must know) and resized it to 640 x 480. That made Uncle Yogi look just right:


For video, the ideal size is 720 x 480 pixels. If you import video that's smaller than the standard DVD size of 720 x 480 (NTSC) or 720 x 576 (PAL), iDVD will scale it to fit the DVD window, which will almost certainly degrade the image quality.

One last detail to check before you import any images into iDVD is to make sure your images are oriented correctly. Flip any images that are horizontal in an image editor so they're not sideways in your DVD.

Gather Your Images

Chances are, your images and movies are in various folders spread all over your hard drive. To make it easier to stay organized, to back up your project as quick as possible, and to speed up burning the DVD, move all the assets into one folder. You should also keep your iDVD project file in this folder as well, once you create it.

You don't have to create every bit of the content that goes on your DVD. Let's say at the last minute you want to use a beautiful sunset as the backdrop on a secondary menu, but you don't have any decent sunset shots in your collection of photos. Don't despair the Internet is your friend in these desperate moments. There are plenty of sites that supply absolutely free images as long as you're not using them for commercial purposes. (If you do want to use them commercially, you'll have to get permission for copyrighted materials.)

Free ( has a database of sites with images that are free for the taking. If you want the best that a little money can buy, take a look at the royalty-free images at Corbis' site ( There are plenty of beautiful images in the $50 range. The video clips are a bit more pricey, though, and probably not a good use of funds for personal projects, but if you're going for the big Hollywood production look (or shooting for an Oscar), these clips might be a better investment.

The Little iDVD Book
The Little iDVD Book
ISBN: 0321197747
Year: 2003
Pages: 62 © 2008-2017.
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