MC Chapter Markers to DVD Studio Pro

Converting Media Composer sequences to DVDs without a realtime burner isn’t difficult. But creating a proper DVD with a chapter menu on a Mac still isn’t for the faint of heart. To make the DVD, you’ll export a QT reference movie and burn it with the DVD application of your choice. But adding chapter markers and making a chapter menu takes some alchemy.

The trick is to create locators in the MC timeline, export them, do a bit of editing on the resulting text file, and import it into DVD Studio Pro. For a full chapter menu, it’s easiest to import into Compressor first.

Start by creating locators where you want chapter breaks. Put them all in the same track and color them the same way. That’ll make it easier to distinguish them from locators you’ve used for other purposes. Add the chapter name to each locator as locator text. Then open the Locators window (Tools > Locators), select the locators you’re interested in by Command-clicking and choose Export Locators from the Fast Menu at the bottom of the window.

In the dialog box that follows, export selected locators only. The result is a simple, tab-delimited text file containing only the locators you selected. Open the file in a text editor and remove header information and all columns except timecode and locator text. In Apple’s TextEdit or Microsoft Word you can select and delete entire columns by Option-dragging over them — you shouldn’t have to get into regular expression searches. Your resulting file should have just two columns, like this:

You must reference the same starting timecode as DVDSP does or the markers won’t line up properly. DVDSP defaults to hour 0. Avid sequences default to hour 1. In this example I simply changed all the values to start with hour 0.

Once you’ve got this cleaned-up text file, export your sequence from MC as a QT reference movie with “same as source” settings. MC renders all effects and generates a new audio track, and links the QT reference to your Avid media.

Then create a new project in DVDSP, select the menu tab, drag the movie in, and when you see the drop palette, select Create Button and Track. DVDSP picks up your QT movie and a button is created for it. You can customize the button or the DVD any way you like. Then open the Track Editor (Cmd-9). Right-click the marker track and select Import Markers. Navigate to your text file and select it. All your locators appear in the DSP timeline, named with your locator text.

Test the DVD by clicking Simulate. You should be able to jump from marker to marker. (The markers won’t be exactly where you put them — they’ll be shifted slightly to fall on MPEG I-frames.)

The last step is to create a chapter menu — a list that appears when you first load the DVD. DVDSP will do this automatically with exports from FCP, but, as far as I can tell, not from an imported marker list. You have to create each chapter menu individually. To do it automatically, you’ll need a different workflow, importing into Compressor and then DVDSP.

Start by opening Compressor, dragging in your Quicktime reference and applying a DVD setting. With the video selected in the Job window, click the marker menu in the Preview window and select Import Chapter List. Navigate to your text file. The markers will appear under video in the preview window. (Compressor reads the source timecode correctly, so you shouldn’t have to change the timecode hour in your text file.)

Compress the file and then drag it into DVDSP, and select Create Chapter Index from the drop palette. The video is imported and the chapter menu is created and linked automatically. Simulate and burn the DVD.

This is fairly straightforward, but it’s not exactly trivial, and you have to have a decent understanding of all four programs involved to make it work. Avid could make it a lot simpler if MC would convert locators to chapter markers in exported Quicktimes. Then you could bring them into the program of your choice with a lot less hassle.

For more tips like this, check out my new book, Avid Agility. It’s available from Amazon.

Explore posts in the same categories: Avid, Avid Technical Tips, Avid Wish List & Bugs

4 Comments on “MC Chapter Markers to DVD Studio Pro”

  1. matti Says:

    I choose a faster quick and dirty method which does not need cleaning: Just select the locators, copy, open a new textedit document, paste, save.

  2. Steve Says:

    That’s a good trick. You only get the timecode and the text, which is all you want. But you have to cut and paste each locator separately.

  3. […] Apparently I’m not the only one who has considered this challenge and I’m thrilled to see that the solution I arrived at was also innovated by the fantastic editor Steve Cohen.  Great minds do think alike. […]

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