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I've never really taken iDVD very seriously, but for a personal project i'm delving into it a lot more right now. When i first started using the program, i didn't like it that much because i felt like there weren't enough ways to make a DVD feel "unstock". As in, every DVD made from iDVD would look like a DVD made from iDVD.

now that i'm getting more immersed in the details of the program, i'm finding that this isn't the case, and this makes me warm to the program more, but i'm still pretty annoyed at how many of the little decisions the program makes for me that i can't override, or some of the aesthetic decisions that make sense from a programming perspective but don't make sense from a practical one that thus requires workarounds.

drop zones are the best example of this. Drop zones are places where you can put drop photos or movie clips to loop to be displayed in the main menu layout. Drop Zones are preprogrammed into iDVD themes and they vary in how they're used. Some will have, say, a "slideshow" of drop zones that move from left to right with some artistic shadowing or whatnot. The theme handles the manoeuvres, you just drop in the media.

Two issues i've come across with this. First, with certain themes, if i drop a still photo into a drop area, iDVD will automatically resize and crop the image for me and i have no way to change the resizing or the position of the crop. In order to get a picture to be what i want, i have to use something like Photoshop and make a custom frame that i can then house the picture in and do a lot of trial and error to figure out exactly where and how iDVD is going to alter my image. plus, iDVD doesn't do well with files that have been updated with the same filename, (i think it must store something in cache for previews) so if i want to make a change, i need to make each draft as separate files.

Second, the theme i'm using has a feature with three drop zones. These three clips are set as a fade succession, as in fade one into the second, fade the second into the third, loop back to the first. The problem is that even though you don't see clips 2 and 3 until midway through the loop, the theme starts all of the clips behind the scenes at the same time, which means that if you want those clips to start in a very particular place, you need to create blank space in front of the movie. If you change the length of the theme "loop", it also proportionally changes how long each drop zone period plays for. So if i initially set a loop at 15s and later want to change it to 20s, i have to rerender my second and third clip with the right amount of blank space and then reinsert it into the drop zone. I wish i could just do that sort of "choose where to loop and when to start it" within iDVD itself.

A final issue is not a drop zone issue but is a similar issue to the second one but as it applies to audio loops. If i set looping audio for the theme, it makes decisions about how long the "intro" or 'outro' is based on how long the overall loop is and that's also not changeable. This makes it incredibly wonky to have an audio clip loop in a way that musically makes sense - i think that what i would have to do is insert silence in the beginning and end of the clip to deal with the intro and outtro that doesn't loop, but since i already developed my theme before coming up with this solution, making that change would change the loop time of the whole intro which means i would have to also do the aforementioned rerendering of the videos to loop where i want them, and that's just too nitpicky for the end product result i'm getting out of this right now.

Really, the frustrations come from the fact that although i can get it to behave the way i want, i need to do it through a series of workarounds. I don't mind if it makes decisions for me and i think it's good that the UI and options are made as user friendly as possible for the average user. But there's no reason not to include power user settings in there for those that want to get into the nitty gritty of the application, and this is something that Apple products all around tend to lack, which is clearly a deliberate market decision based on what they recently did to Final Cut Pro X.

That's a separate discussion, however.

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March 2017