Adding Markers to Your Video

You can add markers to your tracks in the DVD Studio Pro Track Editor. You can use these markers in a variety of ways—the most common usage is to provide a place in a track to which a button on a chapter index menu can connect.

Apple video editing applications—Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express—let you add markers while you edit the video. You can also add markers with Compressor. There are two types of markers that are important to DVD Studio Pro:

Because DVD Studio Pro can import chapter markers added within Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, and Compressor, you can choose to create the markers in the editing, compressing, or DVD authoring process. When you import video with chapter markers into DVD Studio Pro, you see the marker position and marker name you set appear in the Track Editor. The markers can then be edited within DVD Studio Pro exactly as if you had manually created them there.

Note: The markers embedded in MPEG files encoded with the DVD Studio Pro 4 version of the integrated MPEG encoder are not compatible with 1.X versions of DVD Studio Pro.

Placing Chapter Markers Exactly Where You Want Them

Adding markers in Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, or Compressor offers the potentially large advantage of allowing you to position them on the exact frame where you want them to appear.

When adding markers to a track in DVD Studio Pro, you can only place them at GOP boundaries. This means that you will often not be able to place them exactly where you want them. When you place the markers with a video editor, the integrated MPEG encoder automatically forces an I-frame at that position, placing a GOP boundary exactly at every marker and providing perfect marker placement. Markers placed in Compressor before it is used to encode the video are also perfectly placed.

Using Compression Markers to Improve the MPEG Encode

MPEG encoding is based on the placement of I-frames, P-frames, and B-frames within a GOP (see Working with GOP Settings). The I-frames encode a complete frame, while the P-frames and B-frames only encode the parts of the video that change between the I-frames. When there is a sudden change in the video content on a P-frame or B-frame, such as a cut to a new scene, the output of the MPEG encoder can have significant artifacts until it reaches the next I-frame.

The integrated MPEG encoder uses compression markers to force an I-frame into the encode at a specific frame, modifying the surrounding GOP structure to keep the encode DVD-compliant.

Adding compression markers at places in the video where sudden transitions occur can produce better MPEG encodes when you use the integrated MPEG encoder. You can manually place compression markers in Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express. As with chapter markers, an I-frame is forced at their position. The difference is that compression markers do not import into DVD Studio Pro as chapter markers and do not count against the 99 chapter marker limit for a track.

Note: Final Cut Pro automatically adds compression markers at each edit point. These are not processed when encoding the video with the integrated MPEG encoder. Only compression markers you manually add in Final Cut Pro are processed. See Using Final Cut Pro and Compressor for information on these markers and Compressor.

About the Markers You Add in an External Editor

There are several issues to be aware of when adding chapter and compression markers in an external video editor:

  • DVD tracks can support a maximum of 99 chapter markers. Because compression markers are only used in the MPEG encoding process, they do not count as chapter markers and do not count against the 99-marker limit. Because you can add several video assets to a single track in DVD Studio Pro, you must keep in mind that the 99-marker limit applies to the total markers of all assets on the track.

  • You cannot place markers closer than one second to each other or within one second of the clip’s start or end in the editor. This gives the encoder the flexibility to modify the GOP structures in that area to accommodate the added I-frame.

  • If you are going to use a video asset to create a mixed-angle or multi-angle track, all video streams must have identical MPEG structures. If you add chapter or compression markers to one stream, you must add them at the exact same place in the other streams.

Adding and Configuring Markers in Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express

Using Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express, you can add markers to a clip or to a sequence. If you intend to export the markers for use with DVD Studio Pro, it is important that you place the markers correctly.

  • If you export a clip by selecting it in the Browser: The chapter and compression markers can be exported.
  • If you export a sequence by selecting it in either the Browser or the Timeline: Only markers in the sequence are exported—markers in any clips in the sequence are ignored.

For details on adding markers to clips and sequences, see the Final Cut Pro User Manual. The following instructions assume you are familiar with Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express.

Note: The following instructions are for Final Cut Pro 4 through Final Cut Pro 5, and all versions of Final Cut Express. If you are using a different version of Final Cut Pro, you may have different choices.

To configure a marker in Final Cut Pro
  1. Select the marker and open the Edit Marker dialog.

    Figure. Edit Marker dialog in Final Cut Pro.
  2. Enter a name for the marker.

    This is the name that appears in the Track Editor in DVD Studio Pro and can be used as button text.

  3. Click either Add Chapter Marker or Add Compression Marker.

Text is added to the Comment area.

Only chapter markers appear in DVD Studio Pro. Because each chapter marker forces an I-frame at that location, it is unnecessary for you to add both marker types.

To export a Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express movie with markers
  1. Do one of the following:

    • If exporting a clip with markers: Select the clip in the Browser.
    • If exporting a sequence with markers: Select the sequence in either the Browser or the Timeline.
  2. Choose File > Export > QuickTime Movie.

    The Save dialog appears.

    Figure. Save dialog in Final Cut Pro showing saving a video clip.
  3. Choose the type of markers to export from the Markers pop-up menu.

    Figure. Marker type selection pop-up menu in the Final Cut Pro Save dialog.

    Choose DVD Studio Pro Markers to export both compression and chapter markers, or choose the type (compression or chapter) you want to export.

  4. Ensure all other settings are correct, then click Save.