Advanced features

This page is an introduction to dvda-author's advanced usage for complex projects, as implemented in version 10.06.

1. Menu authoring

Top menus facilitate navigation with track links. A top menu is a screen that may be called by pressing on the "(Top/Main) menu" button of  your DVD-player remote control.

Menu style

Two types of top menus may be created:

  • List menus, which are continuous. Below is an example:

  • Hierarchical menus, with a first screen listing only links to group menus. Below is another example:


To automatically create a hierarchical menu, use:

  --topmenu --menustyle hierarchical

There will be as many screens as there are groups, with an extra first screen listing groups.
Attention: You should not use more than 32 tracks per group with this type of menu.

To create a standard list menu, just use --topmenu. There are no limitations as to the number of tracks per group in this case (under the normal 99-track limit).

You can also author the top menu Mpeg file with other tools. This will be the case, in particular, when a motion menu (with or without sound) is used.
In this case, use:

  --topmenu mpeg_filepath

Currently this option is only supported with list menus (and just one menu screen).

  • Active menus, which are actually still pictures displayed while a track is playing.
Unlike top menus, active menus may only be in list form. Colors are not currently adjustable, nor are text format or background pictures.
Automatically-created links to tracks will appear just as in automatic top menus, yet in different colors.

You may use the links either to navigate within the same group or to jump from one track of any group to any track of another group.

Below is an example created for a test:

Topmenu                                                              Active menu

top menu                active menu

Active menus may be generated along with a top menu, or without it.

Command line is simply:

--menustyle active

and should you combine top menus and active menus, use:

--topmenu --menustyle active


Predefined colors can be changed using the following command line switch:

  --palette t,b,h,s

in which t,b,h,s are colors in alpha-YCrCb 32-bit hexadecimal coding, separated by commas:
  • t is the color of the track text (white by default)
  • b is the color of the background screen (black by default)
  • h is the color of the highlighting element (red by default)
  • s is the color taken by track text when the link is selected and activated, for about 1 second (depending on players)

alpha-YCrCb codes are one of the various ways of encoding colors. If needed, you will find a useful color tester here.
and an explanation of the YCrCb model here.
It is normally useless to use non-zero alpha values (the first byte of the 32-bit sequence).

Example: --palette 0x0051F05A,0x00108080,0x00286DF0,0x00902235

yields red track text against a black background with a blue highlighting element and text turning green on link activation.

Below is another example of what a menu looks like, when created with a grey background (command line: --palette 0x0051F05A,0x00D18080,0x00286DF0,0x00902235):

In this example, the first track has been selected. On activating the link, the image momentarily changes as shown below:


The default font is Courrier-Bold. The size of the font is computed automatically. It depends on several factors, like the number of groups to be displayed on each screen and the number of tracks per group. You can change both font type and font size by adding:

  --font font_type,font_size,N

in which N is the number of pixels of the side of a square in which a letter of size 10 can contain. N depends on the font. For Courrier-Bold, N=6. For other fonts, N is not tabulated and should be experimentally determined. It should be close to 6 in general.

--font Courrier-Bold,20,6 The list of available fonts is that of the mjpeg tools used by dvda-author to create the pictures. It can be displayed by launching mogrify -list fonts .

Highlighting element

The highlighting motif by default is an underline. It can be changed by specifying:

--highlightformat -1

for automatic menu authoring with little square before titles. Below is an example of what the above menu would become with this highlighting option added to command line:

Alternatively you can opt for button motifs by adding:

--highlightformat 1

  for button highlight as below (first track is selected again):

Background picture

The background picture should always be of JPEG format. Below is an example, in which background.jpg is a grey screen ornated with a white ellipsis containing "Symponies by Mozart". The group and track labels are created by the --topmenu option and added to this background:

You can also specify different background pictures, using commas to separate files:

--background file0.jpg,file1.jpg,...,fileN.jpg

for N menus. Again, pictures should always be of JPEG format.

Number of menus and menu columns

Whether you create menus using the automatic default procedure or by adding user-defined details, it is possible to create a given number of N menu screens by adding:

--nmenus N

However this option is only available for list menus, not hierarchical menus, which have as many menu screens as there are groups (plus the group-listing menu).
You can also force the number of columns per screen (by default 3):

--ncolumns C

It is not advised to use values higher than 4. Also, be careful not to specify both --nmenus and --ncolumns options,as incompatibilities may arise. Normally, N and C are related by the following equation: N = (int) number of groups/C (+ 1 if the ratio is not an integer)

2. Still pictures and slideshows

In addition to menus, slideshows can be created. Pictures will be shown while a track is playing, with transition effects and a user-defined timeline or, alternatively, with browsable pictures, using the player's remote control.

A still picture is the particular case in which there is just one picture per audio track.

Still pictures

You will need to author pictures of jpg format with independant software like the Gimp. Once created, rename pictures as follows:

pic_000.jpg, ..., up to pic_999.jpg (maximum).

Then gather them in the same directory dir. Add:

--stillpics dir


To create a slideshow you will first need to author slides for each track and choose your timeline, ie at which time after the start of the track each slide starts and ends.

You need to enter pictures manually as follows. If pjk is picture j of track k, enter:

--stillpics p11,p21,...,pn1-p12,p22,...,pn2-...

with tracks separated by hyphens and pictures by commas.


--stillpics image1.jpg,image2.jpg,image3.jpg-image4.jpg,image5.jpg,image6.jpg

If there are no pics for a track use -- as below (no pics for second track):

--stillpics image1.jpg,image2.jpg,image3.jpg--image4.jpg,image5.jpg,image6.jpg

You can also optionally choose slideshow options, like transition effects.

Here is a link to a playable slideshows (converted to mpg):

slideshow 1

To enter options, use:

--stilloptions options

Separate options with commas. Each option applies to ranked pic, so use rank=k to indicate that the following options apply to the k-th picture, starting with 0. Ranks are counted across tracks, so for example if you have three tracks with two slides each, the corresponding options will be:

--stilloptions rank=0,(options 0),rank=1,(options 1),rank=2,(options 2),rank=3,(options 3),rank=4,(options 4),rank=5,(options 5)

Transition effects should be chosen among the following ones:

  • fade or just 'f': picture will gradually fade out or in
  • dissolve or just 'd': picture will dissolve into a blank screen
  • top or just 't': top-wipe effect, with the picture sliding down from the top of the screen
  • bottom or just 'b': bottom-wipe effect, with the picture sliding up from the bottom
  • left or just 'l': left-wipe effect, with the picture sliding across from the left handside
  • right or just 'r': right-wipe effect, with the picture sliding across from the right handside

These effects can be applied either at the start or at the end of the slide.

To apply a transition effect at the start use the following syntax:

--stilloptions (...),rank=k,(...),starteffect=effect,(...)

To apply a transition effect at the end use endeffect instead of starteffect.

To to set the time line you need to choose a set of time marks, ie how many seconds elapsed between the start of the track and the onset of picture.
Use ...,start=T,... as a suboption of --stilloptions to set the time mark at T seconds for the corresponding picture.
Optionally, the duration of transition effects can also be set, both for start effects and end effects.
Use ...,lag=L,... to set the duration of the following transition effect at L seconds. Below is a complex example:

--stilloptions rank=0,start=5,lag=2,starteffect=fade,lag=5,endeffect=bottom,rank=1,start=25,lag=3,starteffect=left

Here the first picture will be shown after 5 seconds with a 2-second fade-in effect. The picture will disappear in a 5-second bottom-wipe effect and be replaced by another picture 25 seconds after the start of the track, with a 3-second left-wipe start effect.

3. Display aspect

Currently only PAL, SECAM and NTSC standards are supported. PAL is enabled by default. To switch to NTSC, use:

--norm ntsc

and for SECAM, use:

--norm secam

Display ratio can also be customized. By default, display will be determined by your picture input.

To switch to 16:9, use:

--aspect 3


--aspect 2

for 4:3