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Old January 7th, 2009, 08:16 AM   #1
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Experiments with blu-ray on DVD and Toast 10

Hi Everyone,

I do not yet own a blu-ray burner, however, I wanted to put some short-form HD content on disk for delivery to a film festival, as blu-ray is the easiest way to distribute HD. After some research, I decided that Toast 10 should do what I need (I'm on a Mac) until Steve Jobs can get over his "big bag of hurt" and get with the program for blu-ray support for DVDSP. My plan was to create "blu-ray spec" disks and burn them on standard DVD-R with the burner I already own.

So, I downloaded Toast 10 with the HD plugin, which cost me $99. Installed it, and it runs fine.

A word of note: it burns normal DVD/CD pig dog slow. My superdrive which goes 40x on CD and 4x on DVD only burns at 3-4x on CD and 1x on DVD with Toast 10. No explanation why. I used my newly down-loaded version of Toast 10 to write a back-up on CD-R and it took 14 minutes. When was the last time burning a HALF FULL CD took you 14 minutes? 1999? I have opened a tech support call to ask. For burning "regular" CDs and DVDs, use your old version of Toast.

OK, back to the blu-ray. My source material is all HDV 1080i/60 edited in HDV codec on FCP. I'm editing on an old G5 dual 2 Gig processor desktop machine. My first attempt was to output mpeg2 and AC3 files for my 10 minute test piece using slightly modified versions of the Compressor HDDVD preset, with the thing turned up to full quality (maximum bitrate). Toast 10 easily recognizes the two resulting files, and pairs them up as one stream. Even though you have the option to select "don't re-encode" on Toast, it re-encodes anyway. Takes a while. My 10 minute segment took over an hour to encode. When I put the resulting DVD in my brand new Sony S-350 blu-ray player, it would not play. It would not give me a menu. Nothing. So I scratched my head, and went back to my office.

I re-encoded the disk with the "auto-play" button checked, so it would bypass the menu and automatically play the first item on the disk.

The resulting disk played, but didn't look very good at all. Bad artifacting. Looking at the data stream, I noticed that the video was AVCHD (H.264) even though I had created mpeg2 in compressor and selected "don't re-encode" on Toast.

My next attempt was to output AVCHD from compressor and try that on the disk. Since the blu-ray spec calls for blu-ray players to be able to play a DVD at ~3x the maximum SD bitrate, we can expect to be able to use up to about 30 Mbps peak on the combined data stream. I used 15 Mpbs average/20 Mbps peak on my AVCHD file, figuring that it would definitely be playable on DVD at that rate (going too high will cause skipping). I used a Compressor preset for HD-DVD again (this time the H.264-based version), changing the bitrates to match my needs. I output a separate AC3 file for audio at 320 kbps.

At 12 hours into the render with my old G5, and it telling me that that the render was going to take another 20 hours (!!!), I cancelled it. (Keep in mind this is only a 10 minute segment!) I do have a fast laptop, so I decided to move the rendering over there. I output a straight HDV file of my edit (took 15 minutes) from FCP to a hard drive, took it over to my relatively new macbook pro, fired up Compressor and did the AVCHD render there. It took 4 hours.

When I imported it into Toast, it was happy to import both the AC3 and the AVCHD file, but would not pair them up. It would only accept them as two different items. So I burned the disk without the audio as a test. (When you create your AVCHD file from Compressor, check the box to include PCM audio, and Toast will then get the audio. You can then later tell toast to make it AC3 and pick a data rate when it re-encodes. I was trying to avoid the re-encoding so this is why I created separate tracks to begin with.)

It still re-encoded the video stream, even though I selected "don't re-encode." I have decided that no matter what you provide Toast, it re-encodes. So I went into the custom settings and set Toast to re-encode at the same bit rate (15/20) that I used when exporting from compressor. In my blu-ray player, the resulting disk looked better than the first, but still not as good as it could look. Shadows were still noisy and significant artifacting around fine details.

Next, I decided that if Toast is going to re-encode no matter what, I need to give Toast the best quality file I can. Would it be willing to take the HDV stream I had exported from Final Cut? This is about as clean as I can give it. Guess what? It is perfectly happy to digest HDV! So I dragged the HDV file in, put the AVCHD settings in Toast at 15 Mbps average, 20 peak, and hit the go button. (At this point, I was doing all the work on the laptop....it's much faster). About an hour later, I had a disk. (Toast encodes AVCHD much much faster than compressor). I put the disk in the player, and it looks quite good...the best so far!! Now we're getting somewhere!

Now to address the menus. Toast has a tool for creating a very basic menu so you can select different streams to play. I created a second HDV file from another edit. I put both of these HDV streams into Toast, selected one of the menu templates, gave everything names, picked keyframes to represent the buttons and, just to be safe, selected "auto-play" for the first item. (That means that when you put the disk in the blu-ray player, it will play the first item without going to a menu.)

I rendered/compiled this disk and put it in the Sony S-350. The first item played fine, but once it ended...no menu. I was unable to make the Sony give me a menu no matter what I did, and believe me I spent a while scratching my head and pushing buttons on the remote. I was unable to play the second track because of this.

After several more experiments, I have to conclude that Toast 10 makes menus that either don't work at all, or don't work with the Sony S-350, which is my only test bed for the disks. I have a neighbor with a PSP so I'll take one over there to test as well.

My advice if you create disks with multiple tracks is to click the button in Toast that puts them in sequential automatic playing order. Then I think you could move through them with the chapter buttons. (Not sure....I'm rendering that test right now!) Will update soon.

So my experiments so far conclude the following:

1. Toast 10 sucks for burning normal DVD or CD. It is slow as molasses.

2. Toast 10 always re-encodes HD video no matter what you tell it or what kind of HD source you give it.

3. The best video I got out of it was by giving it an HDV stream to render (containing both audio and video) and then setting it to AVCHD output (AVCHD has better performance at the lower bitrates required for playback from DVD-R rather than BD-R.) Settings that played fine on my blu-ray player were 15 Mbps average/20 Mbps peak for video and 320 kbps for audio. (Experimenting with higher bitrates now).

4. The menus don't work at all so far as I can tell.

I will report more later, as I am continuing my tests. By the way, the documentation for Toast is very very basic, and there is virtually nothing in there to help with any of this.

Jonathan
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Old January 7th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #2
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I'm looking forward to trying it out although I expect it to be a pain, I plan on following this:
Final Cut 2 -> Toast 9 -> Blu Ray (on Dvd) -> Ps3 -- Working - Roxio Community

I think that you should be exporting as pro res, exporting HDV is not the highest quality as HDV actually loses quality when you edit it. There are posts about this but all you have to do is change you sequence settings to PRO RES at the last minute, and when you export your reference or self contained movie the video will actually look better. HDV is a nasty nasty codec, and I would only use it to capture and edit because it's quicker on my machine.
If you don't have Pro Res maybe Apple Intermediate Codec works in it's place?
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Old January 7th, 2009, 11:51 AM   #3
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Aric,
I did not test to see if Toast would accept ProRes. A good question! It would definitely help a on sections of the timeline that have been tweaked, though I doubt much, given what the resulting format is (limited bandwidth AVCHD).

For now I am happy...if only the menus would work.

Jonathan
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Old January 7th, 2009, 12:06 PM   #4
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Update

I just re-encoded the project with the settings changed to 18 Mbps average and 22 Mbps peak to see if my DVD player would play it and guess what? Toast generated a DVD with the EXACT same size files as the last one (where the settings were 15 Mbps/20 Mbps). So the custom menu where you can enter your "target" bit rates doesn't do anything!


Jonathan

Last edited by Jonathan Bird; January 7th, 2009 at 12:39 PM.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 12:36 PM   #5
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Discovery....

I have just made a discovery. I have been making my settings with the Toast software set to "DVD" as the output format, because that's the type of disk I'm burning to. With that set, changes to the bit rate don't cause changes to the predicted file size (in the bar graph, where it shows how full the disk is.) However, if you change the output medium to BD, all the sudden, changes in the bit rate sliders change the predicted size of the resulting file. It's like they lock out some of the functionality if you tell it you are going to DVD instead of BD. (Perhaps they are making it "fail safe" so you won't burn a disk with a data rate too high to play on a DVD in a blu-ray player?) Some notice of this in the documentation would be nice!

Right now I'm rendering out a disk image (to my hard drive) in the BD format, which I will then attempt to burn on a DVD and see what happens. I'm hoping this lets me set my bit rates, and maybe even the stupid menus will work? We'll see....

Jonathan
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Old January 7th, 2009, 03:28 PM   #6
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OK, here are my final findings.

You can tell Toast that you are burning a BD by selecting that disk format, rendering to a disk image instead of a disk, then mount and burn the disk image in Toast as a DVD. Works fine. However, my settings of 18 Mbps average/22 Mbps peak caused skipping on my Sony S-350, and the menus still don't work, so there is really no point.

I went back and looked at the file sizes of the disks that Toast makes in "default" mode when you tell it you are burning a DVD instead of a BD and it works out to almost exactly 15 Mbps, which seems to be the safe top end of what the blu-ray player can handle (I expect the true limit is player-dependent and somewhere between 16-17 because my machine was only skipping a tad at 18). So much for the ~3x DVD speed spec!

However, this was still a good experiment because I know the approximate top end on the bit rate, and I also discovered that the, while the Toast manual controls don't do anything in DVD burning mode, they do work in BD mode. I can only assume that the "don't re-encode video" selector will work if I tell it I'm making a blu-ray. I may try that at some point for fun. Maybe the slow Compressor-originated version of AVCHD will look better? As it is I have spent 3 days rendering, burning and evaluating. I have shared what I learned in hopes of saving someone else the hassle. I hope it's helpful to someone.

Jonathan
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Old January 8th, 2009, 03:00 AM   #7
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Very helpful to me Jonathan thank you. I was just about to buy Roxio Creator 9 or 10 but a search on DVInfo led me straight to your well-documented experiments.

I use pc but having run away from a painful Roxio v.7 some years ago I'm going to shop for a different brand even for my limited SD purposes.

Last edited by Brendan Marnell; January 8th, 2009 at 03:02 AM. Reason: clarify
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Old January 11th, 2009, 09:39 AM   #8
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I just made my first blu-ray on a dvd with taost 9. It was easy and worked fine. I had it set to 15 Mbps average/16 Mbps peak -letting toast encode. It was an Apple Pro Res video (from HDV) by the way! I will try Apple Intermediate Codec next, since my other videos are in that codec.
The video was 2 minutes and 25 seconds and it took 8 hours overnight to encode on my powerbook.
Jonathan, your blu-ray skipped when you brought your peak up to 18? My video was perfectly smooth on 15-16 mbps. And the video has earth quake effects throughout, so that is definitely a safe bit rate (although I'm not sure if that depends on the video length too?.)
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Old November 26th, 2009, 05:46 PM   #9
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Toast bad for me as well

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Bird View Post
Hi Everyone,
1. Toast 10 sucks for burning normal DVD or CD. It is slow as molasses.
Jonathan
Rarely I got so much aggravation with a piece of SW. I had the very same experiences you got it. Slow, re-encode even if I insist not to, horrible SW. I gave up. Fortunately with FCP 7 I can "share" to a BD. I just found this today. I don't know who is the product manager for Toast but for sure he is not making a good product in my humble opinion. It just doesn't make sense to me. I would NEVER suggest this product to a friend, it is the first time that I found on the MAC a SW much worse that what you can get for the PC platform. Nero is 1000 times better for me.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 08:35 PM   #10
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not 10 but 9

What I have found w/ 9 that works is.

Do NOT use H.264/Mpeg4. I know if you burn to regular DVDs it gives you more video per disc. The lifetime it takes IMO isn't worth it.

I use FCE 4.01 and export to Apple Intermediate Codec and drop that video into the Toast project. It encodes in less than 8 hours. I can't tell you exactly how long because I do it overnight. So sometime between 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM it was done. The source video was about 50 minutes.

With new egg selling BD-R drives for $130 not a bad deal. You can get a SATA to USB/FW400 and FW800 enclosure for about $80. Since I write the iso image to a USB drive, I personally use an old Linux box and growisofs.

I found the half-pel feature creates some odd stuttering effects on some vids. I use 15 - 22 Mbps. My Panasonic and my FILs Sony seems ok with it.

Mods: I hope mentioning New Egg is not out of bounds since they are IT part supplier.

Last edited by Nate Spencer; December 5th, 2009 at 08:39 PM. Reason: Wanted to clarify.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 09:55 AM   #11
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Great information. I bought Toast 10 plus the blu-ray plugin to try making BR discs on DVD from my PowerMac G5.
Unfortunately, it looks like my Samsung BD-UP5000 combo player won't play the resulting discs. [Authored HD-DVDs on DVD will play fine].

What BR players are you guys using?
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