Connections Window

To open the Connections view, double-click on Connections in the Project window.

The concept of Connections is the essence of the DVD layout. Connections define how the various elements (Movies, Menus) are connected together.

Why do we need a link?
The links tell the DVD player what to play next when the current item has finished. A typical example is a Movie, when it finishes playing, we can have the DVD player return to a Menu or play another Movie. You can have many Movie segments linked together.

For Menus, dealing with what happens when it finishes is less important. Most Menus have a Timeout value set to infinity meaning they never "stop" playing. However, for those Menus that have an audio background, or Motion Menus or for Menus with a defined number of Timeout seconds, these Menus will in fact "finish" at some point. For these cases, we do need to define a link as to where to go next within our DVD-lab Project.

If a Menu has no link defined, then it is assumed to be looping (to itself).

There are two types of links shown in the Connections view. First, there are the Item or Jump links (from the right side of an object to the left side of another object). These are links that you can draw connections for. Second, there are Button links within Menus. These links show a relationship from where the buttons are on a particular Menu link. Button links are display only, you can't draw or delete these links from the Connections view. You create or delete Button links from inside the Menu window by adding or removing links. Button Links are displayed in a light red color (for Movies) or light blue color (for Menus) and go from the bottom of a Menu to the top of a Menu or Movie.

You can show or hide displaying of these types of links via these Connections view controls.

Moving Objects
You can move a Movie or a Menu object anywhere on the Connection workspace. To do so, select the Arrow tool.

You can move these items anywhere you like to better reveal the Connections or group the related parts together, etc.

Drawing Connection Links

To draw Connections select the Draw Links tool.

As you add new items you will notice that they are already connected by default. For example, all new movies will return to the Menu using RET command (image 1), the First Play will be connected to the Menu etc. You can leave these as they are or rewire the Connection as you need . For example, to connect movies sequentially (Image 2)

To draw a Connection, click on the Draw Links tool button, then click on the object From (Image 1) and drag the line (Image 2) to the object To (Image 3).

When you release the mouse button the new Connection will be made and a flow relationship is displayed.

First Play and Title button
The DVD Project has 2 special entry points, from a viewer's point of view:

First Play - This is the very first item to play when the DVD starts. A DVD starts when a disc is inserted into a DVD player or when the Play button is pressed on Remote. The DVD Author can decide to have the player start the Program by showing a Menu or a short clip and then go to a Menu or to immediately start playing the main feature or combination of these features.

Title Button - This is the action to take when the user presses the Title button on their remote control.

Here are the most common examples:

First Play - Play Menu
This is the default Connection, the First Play (and Title button) will start with the first Menu (which is called ROOT).

First Play - Play short Clip, then Menu
This is a modification of the above. When the DVD starts, a short clip such as warning or company logo is played first and then the player goes on to the main (ROOT) Menu.

First Play - Play Movie
You don't have to have a First Play at all. The DVD Author can decide to have the player just start playing the main feature movie immediately, without the need of an initial Menu. You can also have the player first play a short clip and then the main movie, similar to the below Connections.

The DVD Author can also decide to combine these features to create a custom flow. Immediate movie play with return to a menu is such a combination that might be useful. We can do all of this within the Connections view.

The Title Button Connection
The Title Button is similar to the First Play function with the difference being that it's interactive where First Play is always automatic and out of the user's control. We define connections for the Title Button as the action to take when the user presses the Title button on their remote control.

Note: Each manufacturer seems to like to name their Title button as they please, creating a bit of confusion. Some call it Title, some Top Menu, Root or simple Menu so it isn't always consistent from player to player.

Connection restrictions.
Due to various technical reasons, there are few restrictions as to how to make direct Connections.

1. The First Play and Title Button can be linked either to Any Movie or it can link to First Menu (ROOT).

2. The movies can be linked together in any order. They can be also linked to any menu, but only to first 63 menus. (Menu 1-63). Movie can also have a RET link. This is actually a return command going back to the Menu from where the movie was started. The player will return to the ROOT Menu if this can't be determined. That means if you start the movie playing from Menu 2 the RET command will return back to Menu 2 when the movie is finished. This is also limited to the first 63 menus. If you call a movie from 64th menu the RET command will reurn to Menu 1.

3. Menus (using a timeout value) can directly connect only to another Menu. Don't mistake this with the button links on Menus! The button link on a Menu can link to any Movie or any Menu. You can also set a Menu to go to any Movie after a timeout by setting the Force Activate Btn.

So the fact is that practically any Menu can be connected to any object.

Here is a table for a better overview

Connect to Movie Connect to Menu
First Play First Menu
Title Button First Menu
Menu Timeout
*Using Force Activate Btn.
Menu buttons
Movie Timeout
**Menu 1- 63

means it can connect to Any of that item
**This featre has been added in DVD-lab 1.3

If you look at the table above you will see that these are in fact not that big of a restriction.

Trick: You can connect First Play to any menu by simply going through a short movie (such as 1 sec transition).

RET command

Movie can return to the last opened menu with RET command. That means if you start the movie playing from Menu 2 the RET command will return back to Menu 2 when the movie is finished.

To create RET link simply draw the connection from end of the movie to any free area.

RET - return to last opened menu.
The movie will return back to the same menu from which it started.
Direct link.
This time the movie always return to Menu 2, even if it has started from Menu 1


You can add looping to any item Movie or Menu. As stated before if a Menu has no exit link defined then it is assumed looping. Looping is especially useful for Motion Menu or Menus with audio.

To Draw a loop - click on the end of an Item (right side) and drag the arrow to front (left side) of the same item.

Movie looping - a movie segment can loop to itself, that means it will play forever until you press Menu or Title on the remote.

You can also "loop" multiple segments together, but that's considered a "link".

Menu Looping - The looping for Menus has meaning only if the Menu is one of the types that will "finish" These Menu types are: Menus with a timeout value set, Menus with an audio background and Motion Menus. For each of these types, we can define a Connection action to take when the Menu "finishes".

If you don't explicitly create a button on a looped Menu from which the user can escape, this may be a trap.

Note: If you don't have audio, nor Motion Menu then setting some timeout value and also looping makes very little sense.

Menu Timeout vs Menu Button Link
It is important to see the difference between Menu Timeout (Image 1) and the Menu Button Link (Image 2)

Both features connect Menu 3 to Menu 4, but the Image 1 feature relies on fact that we set a timeout (ex. 10 sec) or there is an audio background or motion video on the Menu. The player will go to the Menu 4 after it has been played or the time-out occurs. If we don't set the timeout or there is no audio, nor motion Menu the link will be never executed.

Image 2 connects Menu 3 to Menu 4 through a Button link. This means user either needs to click on the button or if we set a timeout value (or have an audio background or a motion Menu) and use Force Activate Btn. then the player will jump to menu 4 automatically.

Button Connections
So far we covered connecting objects when the object comes to an end (end of the movie, end of the Menu). The Connection view also allows you to connect Menu items (buttons) to objects. This is normally done in the Menu designer and it is described in detail there.

For better flexibility, you can connect Menu objects to a Movie or a Menu from Connections as well.

We want to link the button on first Menu with the second Menu. Select the "Draw button Links" tool Drag the Connection FROM the first Menu to the second object (Menu or movie) A small window with the first Menu will appear where you select the link button.

Note: Buttons with NOP text are not yet assigned. NOP means No Operation.

Use Connections as your Workspace
You can use the Connections view as your main Workspace. Within the Connections view you can easily add or delete Movie and Menu Items, add clips and audio files to Movies, add backgrounds, still images or buttons to Menus, edit transitions, rename objects. This can all be done directly from the Connections view.

Connection Menu

When you right-click on the Connection view you will see a Connection context menu as shown above. From here, you can access features such as Rebuild Transition or Rename as well as other navigational features.

Add Empty Movie/Menu
You already know that you can add a Movie or a Menu from the Project window. This action will also open the newly created Movie/Menu as soon as it is created.

The similar commands Add Empty Movie/Menu in the Connection Menu will also add these items, but they will be not opened in their respective windows. In this manner, you can add additional empty items to the Project as needed and then edit them later in their respective view.

Here we have added a Menu and two Movie Items, ready for development.

You can rename Items by selecting the Item and pressing the F2 key or the right-click Connection context menu and select Rename. Type the new name, then press Enter to confirm it or Esc to cancel.

Size Size / Show Pie

At the top of the Connections view are two buttons for Project statistics. Use the Size and Pie buttons to see an overview of each object's size and percentage of use on a 4.7 GB DVD disc.