CAP 271 - Computer Animation Portfolio Project

Adobe Encore - Adobe TV Notes

Objectives:

Provide notes for important Encore functions. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Overview
  2. New project
  3. Menus
  4. Timelines
  5. Slideshows
  6. Navigation
  7. Multiple formats
Concepts:

This page will provide some notes about several of the Encore lessons provided by Adobe at their Adobe TV web site.

Overview

Adobe Encore has a multi-panel appearance, like the one we know from After Effects. The Project Panel holds an asset list for the project. Placing an asset on the project panel does not store a copy of the asset in the project, only a link to the asset. The project will lose access to assets if they are moved or renamed after they are added to the project. Double-click a blank spot in the project panel to open the dialog box to import a new asset to the project.

A new feature: you can select a video asset in the project panel and preview it in the thumbnail player at the top of the panel.

There is a Timeline Panel at the bottom of the Encore workspace. Like After Effects, this panel holds holds time scale representations of the media items that are actually used in your project. (The project panel holds links to items that may be used.)

Adobe recommends that we create menus in Photoshop, and import the psd files directly into Encore as menu objects. (Right-click in Project panel, Import as, Menu, browse to psd file, import it.) Elements of the psd file must be named as required by Adobe for Encore to automatically recognize and use them. Note, in the video, when a menu was added to the project it was automatically displayed in the Menu Viewer panel (upper center part of the workspace), and menu elements were automatically displayed in a Layers panel (lower right part of the workspace).

The video shows us that we can configure a menu button with the Properties panel (upper right part of the workspace). In the demo, a button is selected, its link property is selected in the panel, and a link is dragged from its pickwhip tool to the item in the Project panel the button is supposed to link to.

The video also demonstrates using the Flow Chart panel (upper center part of the workspace), to drag connecting links between project elements. Elements that are connected appear in the upper part of the Flow Chart, connected by lines. Elements of the project that are not connected yet appear in a separate, lower section of the Flow Chart panel.
The project itself is represented in the Flow Chart by a DVD icon. Dragging a link from the DVD icon to a menu will make that menu the first thing that runs on the DVD. The demo does this, then demonstrates dragging a link from a menu button to a timeline object, which enables the menu button to play that timeline object.

The demo points out a button in the top left section of the workspace that lets us test-play the DVD project. This is handy, in that we can check the flow of the DVD before we burn it.

The Build panel is used to create a DVD, a Blu-ray disc, or a Flash version of the project. This will be useful in creating a web version of the portfolio disk, as well as creating a DVD version. Our classroom has no Blu-ray burners at this time.

New project

When you open Adobe Encore, you are asked to open or create a project. This lesson is about creating a new project. You can select New Project from the welcome screen or select File, New from inside the program. The lesson recommends giving the project a descriptive name when it is created, which also supports the idea of planning your work before you begin it.

The lesson provides another reason to plan ahead: Encore creates several project folders along the way, so it would be good to plan for a name, a root folder, and a location for that folder before you begin your project. The lesson also recommends a separate folder to hold the assets that you will use for the project.

The project must be set for either DVD mode or Blu-ray mode as you are setting it up. (Seems odd that there is no Flash mode.)

  • DVD mode - choose NTSC or PAL, depending on the TV standard to be used by your audience. Dimensions, frame rate, codec, and field parameters are determined by this choice.
  • Blu-ray - NTSC and PAL are still choices, but the other parameters are configurable as well for a Blu-ray disc.

Menus

The first lesson told us that we are meant to create a Photoshop file to serve as an Encore menu. In this lesson we learn that Encore also has built-in menu choices. The lesson opens the Library panel, which gives you access to buttons, backgrounds, shapes, and menus.

The lesson asks you to click the Menu button on the Library panel to limit the display to menus. Scroll through the list of menus available. Click an item to preview it, double-click an item to add it to the project. If you do not see a menu you like, there are more menus available. Use the dropdown list near the top of the panel to select a new category of menus.

Some menus have pre-built submenus, useful for more involved navigation.

Menus have buttons, and the buttons can be renamed as needed for your project. Alternatively, you could create custom menus from the backgrounds and buttons in the Library. For your portfolio disk, it would seem logical to use some of your own art as a background. Consider this before picking one of the canned images from the program.

The lesson returns to the idea of using Photoshop to create a menu. We see the method from the Overview lesson again. If you have already created a menu in Photoshop, right-click in the Project panel, Import as, Menu, browse to the psd file, import it.

A method for creating a usable Photoshop menu file is demonstrated.

  • In Photoshop a layer group is added for each button that will appear on the menu.
  • Each layer group is given a name that starts with (+), and continues with the name of the button.
  • Each group contains the button text, and the sub-pictural highlight (art that appears behind the text).
  • The lesson refers us to the Help viewer for Encore for more details about naming conventions we must follow.

Timelines

You can think of a timeline as a container or a control that lets you use a video in your DVD project. A video is encased in a timeline, and the timeline can be linked to with a menu button. You can't skip the timeline in this flow.

In the lesson, a video is first added to a project as an asset. The demonstrator selects the video in the Project panel, clicks the New icon at the bottom of the Project panel, and selects Timeline to add a new timeline that contains contains the video. The timeline has two color-coded sections: the video section is blue, the audio section is green. There is a slider control at the lower left corner of the workspace to change the scale of the timeline. The lesson quickly covers how to play and pause the video (spacebar), how to use the time slider (drag it), and how to set chapter markers on the timeline (click an icon).

The lesson cautions that we should edit videos with a tool intended for that purpose (Adobe Premiere Pro is recommended), but tells us we can trim time from either end of a video in Encore, and that we can move the clip to another position on the timeline. This reminds us that the timeline is not just a handle for the video, but a way to manage the time in which the video plays.

Slideshows

A slideshow displays a series of still images, which is appropriate for your work of that sort that you want to include in your portfolio. The lesson begins with importing several images as assets. Note that they do not have to be the same kind of images: the lesson mixes TIF and jpg files easily. The lesson recommends importing all of your images first, to avoid having to add the images to the slideshow separately. Once the images are imported to the project, select them all and click New, Slideshow.

The images now appear as separate slides in the lower left section of the workspace. You can drag them to change their order in the slideshow. Each slide has a time stamp below it, marked as hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. The stamp stands for the time the slide appears in the slideshow.

You can select individual slides to change their properties (such as duration and effects) or select the slideshow icon in the Project panel to change properties for all slides at once. Pan moves the image in the frame, and zoom scales the image. The lesson states that you can set a random pan and zoom for the entire slideshow, but this may be counter productive. Yes, it is easy to set up in Encore, but that is not much of a recommendation if it makes your audience motion sick. Setting a specific transition for all slides in the show will look more professional, and be more desirable.

The lesson shows how to add an audio file to the project and attach it as the audio track for the slideshow. After doing so, the lesson demonstrates previewing the slideshow. Watching the brief preview, you may agree that the zoom and pan does not exactly create a Ken Burns effect.

Navigation

This lesson covers setting up the functions of a disk menu and making sure all the required features have been configured in Encore.

As noted above, you need to have a menu first, either by importing a properly created Photoshop file, or by selecting a premade menu. To link a menu button to a video:

  1. Select the menu button in the menu viewer.
  2. Select the Properties panel, and confirm that it is the panel for a button.
  3. Drag the pickwhip next to the Link property across the screen to the timeline object in the Project panel that is associated with the video asset. The link must connect to the video's timeline, not to the video asset itself. The lesson demonstrates that the connection line for the link will look like limp blue spaghetti and will fail to connect if you try to connect to something that won't work.

A DVD must have a first play object, a point from which other items can be selected. In the Overview lesson, this was set to be the disk menu from the Flow Chart panel. In this lesson, we see how to set it from the Project panel.

  1. Right-click the object that will be the first play object. In this case, it is the menu.
  2. Select Set as First Play. This will mark the object in the Project panel with a first play icon. If you replay the Overview lesson, you will see this icon appear by the Flow Chart method as well.

The lesson turns to the Flow Chart panel, and describes the two sections. The upper section shows objects that have been linked by navigation. The lower section shows objects in the project that are not linked by navigation. Objects without navigation links cannot be played from the DVD interface. As shown before, navigation links can be created by dragging from a menu button to an asset.

The lesson continues to a new item: the end action. We have not yet set an event that should occur when any of our assets finishes playing. In the lesson, we want the DVD to return to the menu when any of the three playable assets finishes. The lesson shows a method to set the end action for an asset:

  1. Open the Flow Chart panel.
  2. Drag from the right edge of an asset to the object that should play when the asset ends. The end action will appear as a thumbnail image to the right of the playable asset.

Multiple formats

This lesson uses some odd language. It tells us that it will cover exporting to DVD, Blu-ray, and Flash. I do not think export is an appropriate verb, since that usually means saving in a format that is foreign to the program we are using. That is not the case here: Encore was designed to save in these formats.

The first step is to select the Build panel. Building, in this case, means creating a specific kind of output.

On the Build panel, select one of the three format options: DVD, Blu-ray, or Flash. The lesson describes several subsequent options that become available from each choice, but it offers no guidance for choosing among them. A few more details are available for Blu-ray and for Flash in the separate videos for those output options. It is assumed that we should check the Encore help system for more details, or Google the subject for more detailed tutorials.