How DVD Studio Pro Manages Assets

As you work on your DVD project, it’s important to give some thought as to how best to organize and manage your assets. Even a simple project can use enough assets to make it worth investing the time to plan for them. Moderately ambitious projects can use hundreds of assets, creating a large potential for confusion as you try to keep track of them.

Additionally, if you intend to author both SD and HD versions of your project, keeping the assets organized is crucial to avoid confusing an SD version of a video asset with an HD version of it.

There are several methods you can use to import an asset into a project, but in all cases the assets are treated the same.

Importing an asset into a DVD project does not actually copy or move the asset file from its current location. The Assets tab simply lists references to the actual asset files. The folder structure you create in the Assets tab does not affect the folder structure of the files on your hard disk; it only helps you manage the asset names while working on your project.

Missing or Renamed Assets

Once you import an asset into a project, it’s important not to move or rename its source file. A Missing Files window appears if you open a project and DVD Studio Pro cannot locate an asset in its original location. You can manually locate the asset or cancel the dialog.

Figure. Missing Files window.
To locate a missing asset when opening a project
  1. Select the asset in the Missing Files window.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Click Locate and use the file location dialog to find the asset.

    • If the asset is a QuickTime file and its MPEG-2 or AIFF encoded version is available, you can click “Replace with encoded file.” In these cases, the QuickTime version of the asset is not required, and instead its encoded versions are used by the project. See Should You Remove the Original QuickTime Files? for more information.

If you open the project without locating the assets, or the assets become missing while the project is open, the names of the missing assets are displayed in red and any elements in which the assets are used are disabled.

To reconnect an asset to a project
Do one of the following:
  • Choose File > Asset > Re-Link.

  • In the Assets tab, Control-click the asset’s name, then choose Relink from the shortcut menu.

You can only relink assets whose names appear in red.

Any elements that use missing assets are displayed in red in the Outline and Graphical tabs. The elements cannot be opened, either from the Outline tab, the Graphical tab, or in their editor. If you select an element with missing assets, a dialog appears with three choices:

  • Relink: The Missing Files window opens so that you can locate the missing files.
  • Delete Clips/Slides/Assets: The missing assets are removed from the element.
    • For tracks: Any clips with missing assets are removed.
    • For menus: Any item with a missing asset is set to “not set” as its asset (no items are removed—only their asset assignment is changed).
    • For slideshows: Any missing slides are removed from the slideshow.
  • Continue: The element shows as being selected in the Outline and Graphical tabs, but it is not opened in its editor. This provides the opportunity to delete the element, which removes it from the project.

Using Video and Audio Assets That Are Not DVD-Compliant

When you import motion assets (video or audio) that are not DVD-compliant into a DVD Studio Pro project, the integrated MPEG encoder converts them to be DVD-compliant (if they are in a supported format). In addition to the general MPEG encoding settings, the Encoding pane in DVD Studio Pro Preferences includes a setting that controls whether the encoding begins immediately as a background function or waits until you build the final project into the VIDEO_TS folder.

There is also a preferences setting in the Destinations pane to control where the encoded files are saved. See Destinations Preferences for more information.

To set the Encoding preferences
  1. Choose DVD Studio Pro > Preferences.

  2. Click the Encoding icon to open the Encoding pane.

  3. Set the encoding method by selecting one of the following:

    • Background encoding: The encoding begins as soon as you import the asset. The encoding takes place in the background, allowing you to continue working on your project. A progress bar appears in the Status column of the Assets tab. Once the encoding process finishes, the Status column displays Done. See Default Columns in the Assets Tab for more information.
    • Encode on build: The encoding does not start until you complete your project and build the VIDEO_TS or HVDVD_TS files.
  4. Configure the remaining encoding items as needed. See Using the Integrated MPEG Encoder for more information.

  5. Click Apply to enable the settings and OK to close the Preferences window.

The current encoding settings are applied to assets as soon as they are imported, whether you choose to start encoding them right away or wait to encode them when you build your project. Changes you make to the Encoding preferences only affect assets you import from then on. See Verifying and Changing Encoding Settings for more information.

How the Encoded Files Are Named

When you import QuickTime video assets into DVD Studio Pro, the integrated MPEG encoder names the encoded files as follows:

  • The first half is the complete original filename, including its extension.

  • The second half has three parts—the video standard (NTSC or PAL), the encoding bit rate (shown as a four-digit number), and the “.m2v” extension.

For example, if you import an asset named “Main,” use the NTSC standard and a bit rate of 5.5 Mbps, the MPEG-encoded filename will be “Main Program.mov_NTSC_5500.m2v.”

Audio files created by the embedded AIFF encoder use the original filename with an added “.aiff” extension.

See Using the Integrated MPEG Encoder for more information on the integrated MPEG encoder.

Should You Remove the Original QuickTime Files?

When you import motion assets that are not DVD-compliant, the integrated MPEG and AIFF encoders create the files (video and audio) required by the DVD-Video specification. To free up hard disk space, you may decide to remove the original files.

Even after the encoders have created the new DVD-compliant files, DVD Studio Pro continues to keep track of the original files. The advantage of this is that you can reencode the files if you decide later to use a different bit rate or encoding mode. For example, you might find that, after the initial encoding, the MPEG-2 video looks great but is a larger file than you planned for. You can decide to re-encode using a lower bit rate and use the slower but higher quality two-pass VBR option.

Additionally, if you convert an SD project to an HD project, HD assets imported as QuickTime files can be encoded to HD MPEG-2.

If you decide to remove the original file, DVD Studio Pro notices it is missing and presents you with the Missing Files window. If you then click “Replace with encoded file,” the original file will no longer be associated with the project, and DVD Studio Pro will no longer try to find it. See Missing or Renamed Assets for more information. You also will no longer be able to re-encode the asset.

Verifying and Changing Encoding Settings

If your project contains a mixture of 4:3 and 16:9 assets or has some assets you want to encode differently than others, you must be sure to set the Encoding preferences settings before you import the assets. You can verify and change the encoding settings on assets that have been imported.

You can also re-encode a QuickTime asset if you want to try different encoding settings.

To change the encoding settings after importing an asset
  1. Do one of the following:

    • Select the asset and choose File > Encoder Settings (or press Command-E).

    • Control-click the video asset in the Assets tab, then choose Encoder Settings from the shortcut menu.

    Note: The Encoder Settings option in the Assets tab shortcut menu is only available if the original QuickTime video file is available.

    A dialog appears that contains the same settings found in the Encoding preferences pane.

  2. Configure the encoder settings and click OK.

    When you have the “Background encoding” method selected in Encoding preferences and you make any changes in this dialog, one of two things happens:

    • If you change the bit rate setting: The current file, whether a complete or partially complete file, is left as is and the encoder starts encoding a new file. This allows you to compare the quality of the two bit rates. If you decide to continue the encoding of the partially completed file, you can set the bit rate (and any other settings you might have changed) to the value it used, and the encoder will continue encoding it.

      Note: If the encoded files are being written to the project bundle, they are deleted whether or not you change the bit rate setting.

    • If you do not change the bit rate setting: The original asset is deleted, whether a complete or partially completed file, and a new encoded file is created. For example, if you want to see the difference between one-pass VBR and two-pass VBR encoding and want to keep the files from both encoding sessions, you need to rename or move the completed one-pass VBR encoded file before re-encoding with the two-pass VBR setting.

If you have the “Encode on build” method selected, these changes will apply once you build your project.

Note: Changing the encoding settings for an asset does not affect the encoding settings for other assets.

This method of configuring encoding settings for specific assets allows you to customize how the integrated MPEG encoder gets used in your project. It also makes it possible to have a mixture of assets with different encoding requirements (such as some that use the 4:3 aspect ratio and others that use the 16:9 aspect ratio).

Using Still Assets That Are Not DVD-Compliant

You can add still assets in any format supported by QuickTime to a slideshow or a track. DVD Studio Pro automatically converts them to the MPEG format once you start the build process. It creates an MPEG folder in the location specified in the Destinations pane of DVD Studio Pro Preferences. See Destinations Preferences for details on setting up this preference.

Using DVD-Compliant Assets

When you import supported assets that are DVD-compliant, they are left in their original locations with no processing (other than the parse file being created, as described in the next section).

About the Parse Files

To use an asset in a project, DVD Studio Pro needs to know some general information about it, such as its length, type, and integrity. Video assets encoded within DVD Studio Pro can include this information in the encoded files, or can create separate files for it. Assets encoded by Compressor outside of DVD Studio Pro can include this information if you select the “Add DVD Studio Pro meta-data” option in the Extras pane of the Encoder settings.

Assets encoded with other encoders, or with the “Add DVD Studio Pro meta-data” option deselected when using Compressor, must be parsed before DVD Studio Pro can use them. Parsing creates a small file, with the same name as the video asset and a “.par” extension that contains the required information. The parse file can take from several seconds to several minutes to create, depending on the size of the asset file.

See Destinations Preferences for details on setting up the parse file preference.

About Segmented MPEG Files

The segmented MPEG files created by some third-party encoders do not import correctly into DVD Studio Pro. Some encoders segment their large encoded files into 1 GB files. When imported into DVD Studio Pro, only the first 1 GB segment is imported. You need to append the files into a single file before importing the asset into DVD Studio Pro. There are several third-party applications that can be used to append a segmented MPEG file into a single file.

Using Motion, LiveType, and Soundtrack Pro Projects

DVD Studio Pro allows you to import Motion, LiveType, and Soundtrack Pro projects directly into your DVD project. This has several benefits:

  • You do not have to render the projects before importing them. DVD Studio Pro allows you to use them as if you had rendered them and exported a QuickTime movie from them. You import the projects using the same methods you would use to import other assets.

    Note: Playing projects requires significantly more system resources than playing a QuickTime movie. Depending on your system, projects may skip frames or show artifacts when playing as part of a menu or track.

  • You can open the Motion, LiveType, or Soundtrack Pro project from DVD Studio Pro. If you make changes to the project in Motion, LiveType, or Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro automatically uses the updated project.

To open a Motion or LiveType project in that application, from within DVD Studio Pro
Do one of the following:
  • Select the project in the Assets tab, then choose File > Asset > Open in Editor.

  • Control-click the project in the Assets tab, then choose Open in Editor from the shortcut menu.

  • Double-click the project in the Assets tab.

Note: The Motion or LiveType application must be available on your computer.