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Old May 8th, 2008, 12:51 AM   #1
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Blu-Ray Project (Mac, Toast 9, FastMac Burner)

My experience burning Blu-Ray

If you want to skip the details and go to the gear summary and some brief notes, jump to the bottom of this post. This post should be most useful to Mac owners wanting to upgrade to HD (HDV) and burn to Blu-Ray.

As many of you are probably considering, I decided to sell my SD gear and upgrade to HD (or HDV actually).

My plan was to shoot in HDV, Edit in Final Cut Pro, Export to H.264, import into Toast 9 Titanium, and Burn to Blu-Ray using the FastMac burner. Here’s how it went:

I bought a Canon XL-H1, a Firestore FS-C to record and capture footage. I kept my Mac Dual 2.0 Ghz Power PC G5 with 2 Gigs of RAM but added an internal FastMac Blu-Ray Burner. I upgraded my editing suite to Final Cut Studio 2 (FCP 6.02, Motion 3.02, Compressor 3.0.2). I am running OSX 10.5.2.

First a little note about the FastMac Burner. It does not PLAY Blu-Ray Discs. It only Burns them. Annoying if you would like to play back a disc immediately on your computer.

Shooting and importing the footage to my Mac was relatively easy. All I would add is that everything you read regarding difficulty keeping sharp focus with HD cameras is true. It’s virtually impossible to determine sharp focus on an HD camera without an external monitor. That will be my next purchase.

Once the footage was imported, Final Cut Pro had no problems editing the footage. I used Compressor to export the final 5 minute and 46 second video to H.264. 1920x1080 (.mov container). This took nearly 5 hours. There are so many settings you can use for exporting, it is beyond the scope of this post. I will say that I highly recommend exporting only a few seconds of footage to ensure it is what you want before attempt to export your entire project.

I exported my final project to one self-contained .mov file. I did not create 2 separate files (one for Video and one for Audio (H.264 & Dolby or PCM, etc)). More on that later…

Now that I had my video exported, I needed to burn my video to Blu-Ray. I had to use Toast 9 Titanium because I am not aware of any other program available to Macs. The Toast interface and options are clunky. If you are familiar with DVD Studio Pro, get ready to take a trip back in time. The templates are simple and sometimes gaudy. There are not many options for customizing them either. You can create your own image and insert it as a background. That’s what I did. However, Toast makes you keep a frame from one of their templates around your video poster frame on the BD menu. Annoying. Especially if you don’t like their frames. There is also no intelligent navigation in Toast that I could find. No ‘end-jumps’, no ‘stories’, no complex menus, no GPRM values, No motion menus, no looping, no transitions, nothing.

When I attempted to import my final project into Toast as 2 separate files (audio & video), Toast generated 2 separate items on the Blu-Ray Menu. One for the audio and one for the video. Stupid. If you selected the video, it would play fine, but the audio would still have it’s own menu item.

This is doubly annoying because you want to encode ONCE using H.264 and Dolby (or PCM) so you don’t loose quality. I could not get this to work. Toast 9 screwed up the menu when I submitted 2 files that should have been ‘Blu-Ray ready’ and it would re-encode any files I imported no matter what the format. There even is s setting for ‘re-encode’ ‘NEVER’. I selected ‘NEVER’ and it re-encoded anyway no matter what format I used. I would really like to get this to work. There is no bigger quality killer than re-encoding (IMHO).

I added my video to Toast, added my custom image for the background, added a name for the video track and left everything else on automatic. Then I pushed the big red button. And then I waited. More than 6 hours went by before my 5 minute and 46 second video was encoded and burned to Disc. Clearly, I need more processor power and RAM. My processor meters were pegged for nearly the whole 6 hours. However, it did seem like the burn was successful.

Once I had a burned Blu-Ray Disc, I headed off to Best Buy to see if anything would play it (remember… the FastMac burner is a BURNER, but NOT A PLAYER).

Best Buy had the following hooked up to a TV for me to try:
Sony BDP S300
Samsung BD-P1400
Panasonic BMP-BD30

Only the Panasonic would play the disc I burned. I also noticed that it was the only one that had the ‘BD-Video’ Logo on the box. All of the other boxes had ‘Blu-Ray Disc’, but not ‘BD-Video’. I think the format that is authored by Toast and burned on the BD-R is different from the ‘Blu-Ray Disc’ format. I found this press release seems to support that:

http://panasonic.co.jp/corp/news/off...n060920-3.html

So, I sat there in those leather chairs at Best Buy and watched my first BD-R play in 1080i glory. I have to say that even with the double encode, the quality was excellent. Then… strangely…, at the end of the video, it re-played the last 30 seconds of the video. I thought I might have hit a button on the remote, so I played it again. Same thing happened. Strange. There are no settings that I could find in Toast 9 that can alter this.

In my opinion, it is POSSIBLE to burn a Blu-Ray disc using a Mac with Toast 9 and FastMac Burner, but until Apple comes out with DVD Studio Pro with Blu-Ray Support and a matching Blu-Ray Burner/Player, you might want to wait. This isn’t ready for prime time…..yet.

This has been such a time-consuming task and I have benefited so much from the others who have posted here, hopefully others will benefit from this post.

Thanks,
Mark

Gear & Media Summary
Mac Dual 2.0Ghz Power PC, 2Gb RAM, Final Cut Studio 2.
Camera – Canon XL-H1 – All video captured with this camera
FS-C Firestore - Captured in QuickTime Format – All video captured directly to Firestore
Edited in Final Cut Pro 6.0.2
Graphics from Apple Motion 3
Exported Final video to QuickTime, H.264, 1920x1080
Imported Final video to Toast 9 Titanium
Toast Re-Compressed the Video ( I would really like to eliminate this step)
Toast Burned the Blu-Ray Disc (interface is clunky, options for intelligent menu are almost non-existent)
Media Used was a SONY BD-R 25 Gb 2X
Blu-Ray Burner from FastMac used to facilitate Blu-Ray Burning (note: FastMac Burners DO NOT PLAY BD Discs, only BURN them)
Playback for the burned BD was only available on the Panasonic BMP-BD30. None of the other players would play the BD-R.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 08:25 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hafley View Post
My experience burning Blu-Ray

If you want to skip the details and go to the gear summary and some brief notes, jump to the bottom of this post. This post should be most useful to Mac owners wanting to upgrade to HD (HDV) and burn to Blu-Ray.

As many of you are probably considering, I decided to sell my SD gear and upgrade to HD (or HDV actually).

My plan was to shoot in HDV, Edit in Final Cut Pro, Export to H.264, import into Toast 9 Titanium, and Burn to Blu-Ray using the FastMac burner. Here’s how it went:

I bought a Canon XL-H1, a Firestore FS-C to record and capture footage. I kept my Mac Dual 2.0 Ghz Power PC G5 with 2 Gigs of RAM but added an internal FastMac Blu-Ray Burner. I upgraded my editing suite to Final Cut Studio 2 (FCP 6.02, Motion 3.02, Compressor 3.0.2). I am running OSX 10.5.2.

First a little note about the FastMac Burner. It does not PLAY Blu-Ray Discs. It only Burns them. Annoying if you would like to play back a disc immediately on your computer.

Shooting and importing the footage to my Mac was relatively easy. All I would add is that everything you read regarding difficulty keeping sharp focus with HD cameras is true. It’s virtually impossible to determine sharp focus on an HD camera without an external monitor. That will be my next purchase.

Once the footage was imported, Final Cut Pro had no problems editing the footage. I used Compressor to export the final 5 minute and 46 second video to H.264. 1920x1080 (.mov container). This took nearly 5 hours. There are so many settings you can use for exporting, it is beyond the scope of this post. I will say that I highly recommend exporting only a few seconds of footage to ensure it is what you want before attempt to export your entire project.

I exported my final project to one self-contained .mov file. I did not create 2 separate files (one for Video and one for Audio (H.264 & Dolby or PCM, etc)). More on that later…

Now that I had my video exported, I needed to burn my video to Blu-Ray. I had to use Toast 9 Titanium because I am not aware of any other program available to Macs. The Toast interface and options are clunky. If you are familiar with DVD Studio Pro, get ready to take a trip back in time. The templates are simple and sometimes gaudy. There are not many options for customizing them either. You can create your own image and insert it as a background. That’s what I did. However, Toast makes you keep a frame from one of their templates around your video poster frame on the BD menu. Annoying. Especially if you don’t like their frames. There is also no intelligent navigation in Toast that I could find. No ‘end-jumps’, no ‘stories’, no complex menus, no GPRM values, No motion menus, no looping, no transitions, nothing.

When I attempted to import my final project into Toast as 2 separate files (audio & video), Toast generated 2 separate items on the Blu-Ray Menu. One for the audio and one for the video. Stupid. If you selected the video, it would play fine, but the audio would still have it’s own menu item.

This is doubly annoying because you want to encode ONCE using H.264 and Dolby (or PCM) so you don’t loose quality. I could not get this to work. Toast 9 screwed up the menu when I submitted 2 files that should have been ‘Blu-Ray ready’ and it would re-encode any files I imported no matter what the format. There even is s setting for ‘re-encode’ ‘NEVER’. I selected ‘NEVER’ and it re-encoded anyway no matter what format I used. I would really like to get this to work. There is no bigger quality killer than re-encoding (IMHO).

I added my video to Toast, added my custom image for the background, added a name for the video track and left everything else on automatic. Then I pushed the big red button. And then I waited. More than 6 hours went by before my 5 minute and 46 second video was encoded and burned to Disc. Clearly, I need more processor power and RAM. My processor meters were pegged for nearly the whole 6 hours. However, it did seem like the burn was successful.

Once I had a burned Blu-Ray Disc, I headed off to Best Buy to see if anything would play it (remember… the FastMac burner is a BURNER, but NOT A PLAYER).

Best Buy had the following hooked up to a TV for me to try:
Sony BDP S300
Samsung BD-P1400
Panasonic BMP-BD30

Only the Panasonic would play the disc I burned. I also noticed that it was the only one that had the ‘BD-Video’ Logo on the box. All of the other boxes had ‘Blu-Ray Disc’, but not ‘BD-Video’. I think the format that is authored by Toast and burned on the BD-R is different from the ‘Blu-Ray Disc’ format. I found this press release seems to support that:

http://panasonic.co.jp/corp/news/off...n060920-3.html

So, I sat there in those leather chairs at Best Buy and watched my first BD-R play in 1080i glory. I have to say that even with the double encode, the quality was excellent. Then… strangely…, at the end of the video, it re-played the last 30 seconds of the video. I thought I might have hit a button on the remote, so I played it again. Same thing happened. Strange. There are no settings that I could find in Toast 9 that can alter this.

In my opinion, it is POSSIBLE to burn a Blu-Ray disc using a Mac with Toast 9 and FastMac Burner, but until Apple comes out with DVD Studio Pro with Blu-Ray Support and a matching Blu-Ray Burner/Player, you might want to wait. This isn’t ready for prime time…..yet.

This has been such a time-consuming task and I have benefited so much from the others who have posted here, hopefully others will benefit from this post.

Thanks,
Mark

Gear & Media Summary
Mac Dual 2.0Ghz Power PC, 2Gb RAM, Final Cut Studio 2.
Camera – Canon XL-H1 – All video captured with this camera
FS-C Firestore - Captured in QuickTime Format – All video captured directly to Firestore
Edited in Final Cut Pro 6.0.2
Graphics from Apple Motion 3
Exported Final video to QuickTime, H.264, 1920x1080
Imported Final video to Toast 9 Titanium
Toast Re-Compressed the Video ( I would really like to eliminate this step)
Toast Burned the Blu-Ray Disc (interface is clunky, options for intelligent menu are almost non-existent)
Media Used was a SONY BD-R 25 Gb 2X
Blu-Ray Burner from FastMac used to facilitate Blu-Ray Burning (note: FastMac Burners DO NOT PLAY BD Discs, only BURN them)
Playback for the burned BD was only available on the Panasonic BMP-BD30. None of the other players would play the BD-R.
Thank you for this post!
What does all this tell me?

Wait for Apple to do it right so I dont have to go to the ends of the Earth to burn a BlueRay Disc!!
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Johnnie Caraballo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 8th, 2008, 09:57 AM   #3
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Just the opposite

Strangely enough, the Blu-ray discs that I burned with Toast 9 would not play on the Panasonic. Only the Sony 300 / 301 and the Samsung 1400.
Toast also took my two files (.m2v & .ac3) and created a single one.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 11:00 AM   #4
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Fred - What settings did you use...?

Fred -
Thanks for the reply. As I stated in my original post, I would really like to get rid of that extra encode. Just to be sure, Toast 9 only created 1 file on your BD menu or 2? Also, it 'took' the file... does that mean that it did not re-encode it? Thanks for any of your help!

Mark
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Old May 8th, 2008, 02:30 PM   #5
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While BR is absolutely not ready for full-production usage on the Mac - yet - there is a little-known snafu with burners and media compatibility.

We've done similar tests however we found that just as with DVD (especially DVD-9) the firmware in the burner itself has a great deal to do with the actual bit-structure compatibility with players and many of the external BR burners have firmware that doesn't have the latest code for proper set-top player recognition.

We used Toast 9 Ti with the BR plug-in, or Encore with PP CS3, Panasonic 50GB discs and this burner:

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Panasonic/SW5582BK/

The burned discs would play in any BR set-top player or a PS3. BUT, there was often stuttering playback with high-bitrate encodes and of course menu options were... almost pointless considering the BR spec allows for JAVA scripting options that neither Encore nor Toast can come close to addressing.

BR can be done on a Mac, but not for commercial use and absolutely not for duplication/replication. That's most likely sometime next year before we see that.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 10:14 PM   #6
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Location: Denver, CO
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Update to Blu-Ray Burning/Playback

I tried burning some more discs in Toast 9 and here is what I learned:
You can get an MV2 and AC3 matched pair to appear correctly in the Toast Menu. To do so, you drag only the video to the menu pane and then Toast will ask you where the corresponding audio is. Select via that pop up. Do not drag audio and video files together.

The Panasonic player (see above post) has extreme difficulty playing anything with rates higher than about 12.5Mb/s (average) or peaks above 14.5 Mb/s. Anything beyond that suffers from pixelations or stuttering. When you consider that the pixel-area for HD (1080x1920) is 6 times larger than SD (480x720), the MB rate per pixel area is actually WORSE in HD than it is in SD. I suppose new compression formats (h.264) should make up for that... but wait, Toast re-compresses those (see above post). So when you compare HD MPEG-2 to SD MPEG-2 its worse.

I guess I will have to keep that HD camera off the jib and very still until these players can handle higher rates.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 09:25 AM   #7
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Mark, These are the settings (in Blu-ray options) that have worked for me. Video format: MPEG-2. Average Bit Rate: 19.0 Mbps. Maximum: 24.0. Motion Estimation: Best. I drag my .m2v file into Toast and (as you discovered) it finds the audio file. It does take a while for it to re-encode (or whatever its doing) but the results are tremendous.
Another curiosity: although I chose MPEG-2 in preferences, my Sony BDP-S301 tells me that my disc is AVCHD, which is MPEG-4.
The jumping back (to a chapter marker - I guess) seems to be a sporadic bug. It does not happen every time.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 08:43 AM   #8
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Over the past two weeks I've worked in DVD Studio Pro and found it very reliable when making SD DVDs, and HD DVDs for red-laser drives. I have not tried to make any Blu-ray discs because players for that media do not yet have a large installed base.
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