The iLife series, #2: iDVD themes

In the last post, I walked you through the basic uses of iDVD.

This time around, we’ll talk about compiling a DVD from scratch, and customizing it to levels beyond what the Magic iDVD wizard allows.

Using iDVD themes, you can create customized menus and chapter screens for your DVD, which look exactly like the ones you see on studio-made compilations.

To create a fully featured, professional-looking DVD, hit “Create a new project” in the screen that pops up when iDVD opens. If the popup screen doesn’t appear, hit “File>New” or click “Cmd-N”.

Note: You can also create a DVD project using the Magic iDVD wizard, and then customize it further by clicking on any of the three closely spaced buttons at the center/bottom of your screen. We’ll be learning more
about these buttons very soon.


Hit the “themes” button on the bottom right of your iDVD window.
In the sidebar on your right you should see a number of images pop up. They look like this:


You can choose from the latest themes – under the “7.0 themes” menu, the slightly older ones – “6.0 themes” – and the old themes, which you will have to install separately to use. You can also install more themes from sites like DVDthemepak – just make sure that they are compatible with your version of iDVD.

Each theme has a separate graphic or video for the main screen, chapter screen and extras. You will see the submenu as soon as you click the little arrow to the left of every theme – it will point down instead of left, and you will see the “Main”, “Chapters” and “Extras” versions of every theme. In the screenshot below, the orange rectangle on the sidebar shows you different sub-screens of the “Sunflower” theme.
If you don’t like the background image, you can drag and drop a photo or video from your sidebar onto it, holding the Command(“Apple”) key down the whole time. Click on “Replace background” from the menu that pops up, et voila!

The yellow rectangle added to the screenshot points out a very useful little feature – it allows you to select a slideshow or a video clip to play whenever the DVD is inserted, instead of taking viewers directly to a menu screen.

Chapters extras

This option can be exercised by pressing the first of the three buttons referred to earlier – a flowchart-type image, which says “Show the DVD map” if you hover above it.

Using this, you can categorize your video clips and slideshows into folders, edit the order of pictures in slideshows and also rearrange the order of playback. Add data to a specific area by dragging-and-dropping from the sidebar. You can replace data by dragging something new over the existing data, and can delete simply by pressing the “delete” key.

The 7.0 themes all have background videos, and you can preview the playbacks using the button beside the DVD map button.

Now, you can progress to adding data to your DVD.

The button to the right of the playback button – with an arrow and a dotted rectangle – allows you to add content to your DVD using the “Drop Zones”.

Theme selection

The drop zones can be used to insert media that is played within the theme itself. The red outlines in this screenshot show you the various ways in which themes display media – it could be in a circle, a long rectangle or any polygon. So choose the media you put in the drop zone accordingly. Remember, all the media in your DVD does not have to be in the drop zone.

This is how you can use iDVD themes to add life and context to your DVD. From weddings and birthdays to memorials or academic projects, the theme will help you set the mood for the pictures and video that are to follow.