Mostly Music Discs with iDVD

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In anticipation of my two-day class at the upcoming Macworld ExpoPutting iLife to Work: Creating Practical Projects with Apple's Creative Suite of Tools —I've been mucking around with iDVD. In the process, I employed a nifty technique for creating theme-based music DVDs. If you'd like to do the same, follow along.

Although you're creating a video disc, the point of the thing is largely to compose a music disc that also happens to display pictures. For example, you may wish to create a disc that contains beach- and underwater photos and pack it with a playlist of all your surf music. Or, in preparation for the long-off winter holidays, cobble together an album of snow scenes, flaming yule logs, and sleighs in iPhoto and place behind it an iTunes playlist of holiday songs.

The technique goes like this:

Create a new iDVD project. Place an album or folder of pictures in the main window—you can do this either by dragging an album from the iPhoto list within the Media tab in the Customize pane or just drag in a folder of pictures from the Finder. Double-click the slideshow entry to reveal iDVD's picture browser. Reveal the Customize pane if it's not already showing and drag an iTunes playlist to the Audio field. Choose Fit to Music from the Slide Duration pop-up menu and choose a transition from the Transition pop-up (I prefer Dissolve because it's less distracting).

Burn the thing and you'll have a disc that plays lots of music and displays as many or few pictures as you like. If you want to get fancy about it, you could force the disc to play your creation as soon as it launches by clicking the Map button and dragging the slideshow into the field that reads "Drag Content Here to Automatically Play When the Disk is Inserted." Double-click this entry in the Map window to move to the picture browser window where you can then drag in an iTunes playlist and configure slide duration and transition settings.

You could just as easily create multiple slideshows + music—one for summer, another for Sunday mornings, and yet another for the holidays—and trigger each with a separate button from the disc's main screen.

The obvious downside of such a disc is that you can't easily navigate from song to song—if you press the Next Track button on your DVD player, you'll be taken to the next slide rather than the next song. This is very much a "kiosk" disc—one that you start playing and leave alone.

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