What do you like/dislike about DVD menus?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chip_E, Aug 16, 2001.

  1. Chip_E

    Chip_E Agent

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    Hey gang, I'm working on a series of DVDs for a major cable network. I'd like some feedback on what you like or dislike regarding specific DVD menus (or in general if you prefer).
    With your input, we can push the envelope and provide the experience you want and expect.
    Also, I'd like your comments on a specific idea.
    What if you had icons onscreen at all times, that would allow you to access or drill down into content at any time during the feature presentation?
    [I thought it was a bad idea because it would take up screen realestate, and be distracting, but what's YOUR opinion?]
    Thanks,
    - Chip Eberhart
    DVD Author
    High Level Productions
     
  2. Tom Landers

    Tom Landers Extra

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    Menus are only as good as the special features they alow you to access.
    As far as the onscreen menu that never goes away.
    That is the worst idea in the long and sad history of bad ideas!
    Just My Humble opinion.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Frank L

    Frank L Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok here's what I think if DVD menus:
    1 - I much prefer motion menus than static ones, they look better and make the whole experience much more interactive.
    2 - I like it when motion menus are short enough not to be a bother, but long enough that you still get a sense of motion, if it makes any sense.
    3 - I like to have both visual and textual description for sub-menus, but can go either way.
    4. Pre-menu intros are a nice touch, but it's important no to over do it (ie Matrix), as it gets annoying when you change between sub-menus and you have to go through the animation everytime.
    5 - So I guess that for me the shorter the animation/video inbetween sub-menus, the better.
    About your specific question, I agree. I wouldn't like to have icons on the screen all the time while watching the feature presentation, as it would be too distracting. At least not as a default, it's ok to have them (small and classy perhaps?) as an option you can turn on, that way you know from the get-go that you'll get them.
    Hope this helps...
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    F
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  4. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Chip, thanks for asking for our input. I'll think about it over the course of the day, and try to reply more extensively tonight...I gotta go get ready for work right now.
    But two quick thoughts:
    1) DON'T leave these icons of yours onscreen all the time. That would just be irritating! If you go the icon route, at least make them only available if the user hits his menu button.
    2) Frank has a good little list of Do's and Don'ts started there. I'll add one more thing to it: SOUND DURING THE MENUS SHOULD NOT BE REPETITIVE! A good example of how not to do it is The Sopranos Season 1. When a feature or a supplement ends, and you aren't able to go eject it right away (your kid has dragged you into the next room for something, you're in the middle of eating, you took a phone call, or you're just too lazy to get out of bed or off the couch), it is extremely irritating when the DVD reverts back to the main menu and starts playing the same 10 seconds worth of audio over and over again, ad infinitum, until you just HAVE to stop what you were forced to do just to hit the mute button or eject the disc.
    And then, of course, later you have to go watch the end of your show again anyway.
    I realize there's a pause button on these things, but this seems to happen to me often enough where I wasn't given enough time to hit it before running off.
    ------------------
    DAVE/Memphis
    My 3-year-old enjoying Superman - The Movie in widescreen:
    [​IMG]
    (Some of my DVD's are to the left side of the picture)
     
  5. Chip_E

    Chip_E Agent

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    Tom, thanks for validating my take on the "menus all the time".
    Frank, very useful input. I agree that sequences between menus should be 1 second or less. I do like your idea of being able to toggle the menus onscreen, it could allow for more interaction (at the click of a button) without destroying the experience (but at the expense of considerable disc space...I'm just thinking out loud).
    Please, keep the comments coming.
    BTW, I'm on your side...a lover of DVD first, author second.
    - Chip Eberhart
    DVD Author
     
  6. Chip_E

    Chip_E Agent

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    David,
    I'll be looking forward to your other comments.
    BTW, it is possible to program the menus so that they "time-out" after a certain number of loops. Typically, it's 3 loops and then onto the feature (at least in my book).
    Thanks again.
    - Chip Eberhart
    DVD Author
     
  7. Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm

    Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm Supporting Actor

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    1) Easy navigation--no confusing cursor moves, like having to press "right" to go to the next one even though it's down and to the left.
    2) Nothing that's whiz-bang or long or slow. Just get me into the meat of the DVD smoothly and swiftly.
    ------------------
    Andrew Hamm's new album Strange Education is available now!
     
  8. James Edward

    James Edward Supporting Actor

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    CLEARLY identify which selection is currently chosen. Many menus (Austin Powers 2, Toy Story 2, etc., etc.) make it difficult due to the color choice or location (Godzilla 2000) of of the 'marker'.
    DON'T show me parts of the movie as I'm navigating TO the menu. If I recall, it is either What lies Beneath, or The Gift that shows way too much as you are navigating.
    As someone else stated a little differently: When I press the MENU button, I want to see the menu quickly. Not what some geek is proud to display as his/her handiwork. It might be cool once, then ANNOYING.
     
  9. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    I think the menu to the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies is very well done. The animation is nice but not overly long.
    I don't like Easter eggs. (Five years down the road I don't want to have to search the Internet to find out how to access hidden features.)
    For navigating chapter menus, I like when the screens change as soon as you move the cursor, as opposed to having to place the cursor over a box and then hitting enter.
    While this isn't a menu item per se, I would like to see a brief icon before the movie and/or special features that would signal anamorphic/nonanamorphic so that one could verify that his TV settings are correct. While most keepcases specify this info for the movie itself, many times the trailers or other extras are not anamorphic.
    [Edited last by Brian Perry on August 16, 2001 at 08:10 AM]
     
  10. David Oliver

    David Oliver Second Unit

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    Please, just get me to the menus. The first time I see some action before we get to the menu, I think that's cool. Then the novelty wears off to zero almost immediately. This includes transistions between movies. See Charlie's Angals for how not to do it, IMO.
     
  11. Kami

    Kami Screenwriter

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    My personal preference is more subtle menu's such as Saving Private Ryan and X-Files: The Movie. Just seems more classy. One's with long and unavoidable animations (they are cool the first time, but not after that) are annoying. i.e. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
    Another menu system I always liked was U-571's.
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
    -Adam
    (a.k.a. kami)
    My budding DVD collection
     
  12. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

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    I agree with James, do not show parts of the movie, especially important parts, in the animated menus. Crouching Tiger has to be the worst for that.
    Patrick
    ------------------
    If you live in Vancouver, B.C. or the surrounding areas, take a look at the Local Home Theater Forum Meets section for a Vancouver meet.
    My DVD Collection
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    As others have said, quick menu transitions are desirable.
    Regarding animations, if it's annoying and tedious (instead of neato-keen) the fifth time you watch the DVD, then it's not good.
    Regarding always-on icons: it could work if done a la Infinifilm. The are normally off, but can be turned on in the Special Features menu.
     
  14. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    Like most everyone has said...SPEED, SPEED, SPEED!
    Is it possible to have 2 sets of menus, fancy & bare-bones, that you choose between?
     
  15. Mike_G

    Mike_G Screenwriter

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    From DVD author to another [​IMG]
    I don't like how you can't skip the animated intros that play BEFORE you get to make your selection. That pisses me off. When I pop in a movie I want to be able to press the "skip" button on my remote and get right to the "Start Movie" menu item.
    Easter eggs are great. I love them, and love making them.
    Mike
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  16. Bob McLaughlin

    Bob McLaughlin Screenwriter

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    I would like to second what people have already stated above:
    When I highlight a choice with the cursor, make it obvious that I am highlighting that particular choice. Sometimes the colors that turn on/off when you highlight things make no sense. For example, does orange mean that item is chosen, or is it blue?
    If I highlight an arrow, why do I then have to hit "enter"? Isn't highlighting the arrow good enough?
    Also have "enter" be the universal "skip intro" button. Some DVD's do not do this. All should!
     
  17. Iain Lambert

    Iain Lambert Screenwriter

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    Absolutely the prime rule in menu authoring should be to not assume the person has seen the film before. They don't want to know the twist, they don't want to see a funky clip of the climactic explosion, they certainly don't want to know the end of the film (Perfect Storm, this means you!) While still menus can be dull, they do at least minimise this problem - I have a couple of titles where I have to mute the sound and tell my fiancee to look away from the screen until I get the film playing when showing her it for the first time. Other than that, just allowing me to get around the menus without swearing at the screen because its so irritatingly slow is pretty important as well.
     
  18. Iain Lambert

    Iain Lambert Screenwriter

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    Actually, this highlighting problem goes away quite simply with one handy rule to consider. Two options don't require a whole screen to themselves. Three options make it obvious, as its the one that doesn't look like the other two. One thing that used to wind me up repeatedly with early discs that thankfully doesn't happen too many times now is you'd have a selection on the main menu marked 'Special Features'. You'd select it, wait half a second as another screen appears and then get the options 'Theatrical Trailer' or 'Back'. Why!?! Would it really hurt their feelings to just label the 'Special Features' button 'Theatrical Trailer' and drop someone's precious hours of work in Photoshop?
    I'm ranting now, aren't I?
     
  19. DarrinH

    DarrinH Second Unit

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    I must input that it is real classy to have some of the movies' score or television shows theme to be playing in the background while the menu is up. However it must be a long enough piece of the score or theme to keep from driving you crazy! Dante's Peak is a good example.
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    The Entertainment Cave
    "10,000 for me by-myself. For that you get the head, the tail...the whole damn thing."
     
  20. NeilEdwards

    NeilEdwards Stunt Coordinator

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    First Things First: When I put in a DVD, I want to be able to go directly to the menu. It is okay to have FBI warnings and anything else at the front, but I want to be able to (a) hit my menu button and it goes directly to the menu or (b) click on next chapter to skip whatever you wish me to see first.
    Secondly, on a menu, I want it to pop up immediately. If I have to wait for all kinds of funky things to happen before I can play the movie, or access a special feature, it becomes annoying.
    Finally, keep in mind that the reason we buy DVD's is to see the movie, not for a fancy menu.
     

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