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Old July 21st, 2009, 08:57 PM   #1
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Blu-Ray for Mac: Past the Tipping Point

Over the past 3 years I've been collaborating with several other production and post facilities ranging from one-man-band indies to large companies with huge business on the books. We've all scratched our collective heads on the lack of progress in the Final Cut suite of apps and from time to time shake our heads at the hardware offerings as well. One of the hot-buttons for almost all of these post houses has been the lack of Blu-Ray support from Apple and Jobs' direct "bag of hurt" descriptive of bringing on BR.

About a year ago we all agreed that the necessity for BR was "on the cusp", meaning that it would be a nice addition to our product and service offerings but that demand hadn't caught up to the point of actually requiring BR in the toolkit. That landscape has changed drastically today.

2 months ago I received an email from an indie who does mostly weddings and events who was clamoring for a method that had greater capabilities than Toast or Encore without having to resort to any Windows-based apps - and to VIEW the completed work after a successful burn. That solution of course doesn't exist yet.

Today I received yet another email from a big post facility that just reviewed their business model and planned earnings from the last 2 quarters. Based on their findings they've lost more than $40k worth of business simply because they too have no Mac-based solutions to author and deliver replication-standard BR with the same configurable options available in DVDSP4 or even Scenarist.

That same facility just made the decision to migrate their *entire* post facility to a Windows/Avid/Scenarist environment, stating that based on their 2010 business projects and client-planned business if they DON'T have a solid method for offering BR to their clients they'd lose so much business that they could in fact start a downward spiral of losses to competitors who ARE offering BR. And while they are aware that the "reliable" rumor-mill expects that Snow Leopard will be BR capable there's no guarantee that the next iteration of FCS will in fact come with a full BR authoring capable application, and they simply can't take that chance that Apple will stay on this solitary "no BR" path.

Why is this information significant? Because last year none of us considered BR to be a "must have right now" option. Today, clients from all sides of the business - from single-event, one-time users to large-scale commercial customers - are demanding BR as a final output. No longer can BR be considered a high-end option it's quickly becoming the must-have service offering that DVD has been.

Nobody knows for sure what Apple will or won't do this fall when Snow Leopard and FCS3 releases, but my advice to ANY Apple-only based production and post company is that it's time to think about and prepare for options outside of Apple's offerings just in case they stay the course with not offering native BR capabilities - if you're going to stay competitive.
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Old July 21st, 2009, 10:17 PM   #2
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Not saying I disagree with you at all... I do think it's a shame that Apple is so far behind the times on this one, and they are definitely hurting themselves and their customers.

On the other hand, in the past couple of months I've seen several major Avid houses switch completely over to Mac/FCP simply because Avids are totally incapable of HD closed captioning without a massive investment in 3rd party legacy gear. (The only workaround being the "1980's workflow", i.e. shipping master tapes back and forth to closed captioning facilities and incurring generation loss and delays, not to mention the costs.)

Blu-ray for now is a bonus... closed captioning is the law.

As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side. Personally I think it's a mistake for any facility to be shackled to a single technology or vendor, whether that be Apple's, Avid's, or anyone else's.
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Old July 21st, 2009, 10:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jason Livingston View Post
Personally I think it's a mistake for any facility to be shackled to a single technology or vendor, whether that be Apple's, Avid's, or anyone else's.
Which is more to my point: There is no perfect, single-vendor solution for our industry. However since most dedicated Mac users have a negative viewpoint of using Windows-based apps those same users have resisted using a hybrid workflow to achieve professional goals.

The big picture here (no pun intended) is that unless Apple finally gives us everything we need both for BR authoring and the fixing the weaknesses in FCP that using *any* application that can deliver professional-grade results should be considered and adopted, regardless which brand it lives under.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:55 AM   #4
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Interesting post. A couple things here. First, as in any business, you must know your market. Apparently in your market Blu-Ray is big. In mine....not even close. I have been TRYING to offer it, but NO ONE and I mean no one is interested. Why? Well, my speculation is $$$$$. Most of these people don't want to invest money into a new home
theatre system....and by system I don't just mean Blu-Ray player and HD TV, but also
the surround sound and then there is the fact that they don't want to pay for the 800 movies they already have on DVD all over again. Now, Blu-Ray players have come down in price, as have HDTV's. The other day I saw a Blu-Ray player for $130 at Walmart and a 42 inch 1920x1080 HDTV set for $790. In normal times I'd think....great deals! With the current economic situation.....well, lets just say there are a lot of people that don't have that kind of money to throw around. Even showing clients the difference between HD video and SD video isn't enough for me. They basically say that SD on a DVD is 'good enough'.

Now on the other hand, it IS the future....and getting yourself prepared in advance is
ALWAYS smart....then when it comes time to shoot, edit and deliver in HD, you won't
be learning as you go along. So I'm still looking at figuring out the whole way to have
a 'end to end HD studio' in my home edit bay. And sorry Apple, but Blu-Ray is the way
to do it! I know you can FTP files around and all that stuff, but for event clients,
they are going to want a physical disc so they can take it with them and play it on
their computer (if they have a windows machine), their Blu-Ray home theater or what
have you. They are NOT going to want to have to 'download' something from the internet
and watch it at only their computer. Having a small, physical disc, that a client can
take on an airplane to a trade show, a bride can mail to her mother, or a neighbor can
take home to watch highlights of his kid's football game is just easier. And not everyone
is as 'tech savvy' as the people on this board. Downloading a file from the internet to view????
Shoot, my mom has a bit of a time figuring out how to turn a computer on.
And Blu-Ray follows in the steps of something that most people are familiar with....a
DVD. Pretty much the same kind of thing, put the disc in the player and hit play.
So, although I am not yet at the point you are in regards to demand for Blu-Ray,
I see that it is in the future. HD will be in demand at some point, and if Apple hasn't
pulled their head out of the sand, they are going to lose some professional video
customers, it's as simple as that. On the other hand, now that a Mac Pro can run
as a PC, I could still see some demand for their hardware at least. It will just be
that people will be using a mix of Apple's software, along with Windows software on
those machines. Even now, people are doing that.....running Sony Vegas on
the same machine that they run FCP. That's a cool 'feature' of the Mac Pro, but
it seems that Apple could do so much better by simply adding the Blu-Ray support
to their Final Cut Studio package. That way they could keep all their loyal pro customers.
And keep those who may be chased away by the cost of buying two sets of software
(Final Cut Studio AND a Blu-Ray solution like Encore) when they would only have
to buy one set of software on a windows computer.
Sometimes, I wonder if Apple has got 'too big'. They used to have a loyal base of
pro video/audio/photo/graphic/design types,......and that was who they catered too.
Now.....sometimes it seems that they are looking towards the 'iPhone' crowd.
And I don't really buy the 'big bag of hurt' explanation. The other computer
manufacturers are figuring out how to include Blu-Ray, Apple can do it as well if
they want. I THINK they will do it in the next version of Final Cut Studio.....because
they HAVE to be smart enough to realize that if they don't do it.....the 'bag of hurt'
may be the bag they empty over their own head.......they CAN see this....right?
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 03:04 AM   #5
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I THINK they will do it in the next version of Final Cut Studio..... because they HAVE to be smart enough to realize that if they don't do it.....the 'bag of hurt'
may be the bag they empty over their own head.......they CAN see this....right?
Your lips to Gods ears. Or Steve Jobs.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 01:12 PM   #6
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Well, I never get a single client request for Blu-Ray, although I'll probably get one sooner or later so I am ready with Toast for simple jobs. If a big client comes around, say waving a few thousand dollars at me, I'll go for the Adobe suite and get into Encore otherwise I'll outsource the finished job to some friends with BluRay authoring capabilities. The story about a business losing $40k "because of Apple" leads me to a question. Why would they not get the Adobe solution and a BluRay burner? That's a fraction of $40k. I bought a DAT player once so I could keep a client, the player was a half of the first invoice but the client didn't go somewhere else and I still have the client 15 years later. Maybe three clients since have used the DAT player. In the end it was a good investment.

While Apple's reluctance in the Sony BluRay licensing issue is curious, have anyone noticed how new Windows computers now have problems with DVDs unless you buy a third party program? What's that about? Also I have discovered that several cheap BluRay players can not play recordable BluRays authored in Toast or Encore.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:16 PM   #7
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While Apple's reluctance in the Sony Blu-Ray licensing issue is curious
Actually, Apple isn't the only one to blame here. Sony's BluRay cost structure is ridiculous. Simply compare them to the licensing of red light DVD. It takes two to tango here - Sony with absorbent licensing costs and Apple with it's eclectic stubbornness.

-C
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:27 PM   #8
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Actually, Apple isn't the only one to blame here. Sony's BluRay cost structure is ridiculous. Simply compare them to the licensing of red light DVD. It takes two to tango here - Sony with absorbent licensing costs and Apple with it's eclectic stubbornness.

-C
Take a walk through Best Buy. Guess who's the ONLY manufacturer displayed there that can't play a BluRay. It takes two to tango, and everyone else is enjoying the dance, while we have one stubborn wallflower who seems to think that internet delivery is THE answer. Maybe in 10 years, but not in 2009/2010.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:35 PM   #9
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I'm not a Mac guy, but Apple's refusal to support Blu-Ray seems to have not been a business decision, but one that was personally motivated. I could understand waiting for the BD/HDDVD shakeout, but to continue this lack of support seems like arrogance to me.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 02:40 PM   #10
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Blu-ray for now is a bonus... closed captioning is the law.
Meaning no disrespect but for YOU CC may be "the law" (and for broadcast, you're right!), for those of us looking to do HD client deliverables and not have to explain why we're providing them with a DEVICE to play back on, the delay is asinine.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 03:26 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by William Hohauser View Post
Also I have discovered that several cheap BluRay players can not play recordable BluRays authored in Toast or Encore.
This reminds me of the early days of DVD authoring/burning! I remember having to tell clients their discs may not be compatible with some DVD players. Because it's a second generation thing, I really hope the path to stable and inexpensive Blu-Ray production will be faster and less turbulent than DVD.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 04:58 PM   #12
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Well, I never get a single client request for Blu-Ray, although I'll probably get one sooner or later so I am ready with Toast for simple jobs. If a big client comes around, say waving a few thousand dollars at me, I'll go for the Adobe suite and get into Encore otherwise I'll outsource the finished job to some friends with BluRay authoring capabilities. The story about a business losing $40k "because of Apple" leads me to a question. Why would they not get the Adobe solution and a BluRay burner? That's a fraction of $40k. I bought a DAT player once so I could keep a client, the player was a half of the first invoice but the client didn't go somewhere else and I still have the client 15 years later. Maybe three clients since have used the DAT player. In the end it was a good investment.

While Apple's reluctance in the Sony BluRay licensing issue is curious, have anyone noticed how new Windows computers now have problems with DVDs unless you buy a third party program? What's that about? Also I have discovered that several cheap BluRay players can not play recordable BluRays authored in Toast or Encore.
I kind of have to agree here. That was pretty silly to loose $40,000.00 just because they couldn't use a Mac to do it. Especially when any Mac can dual boot Windows. I think the company only has themselves to blame for just sitting around waiting for Apple to tell them how to do things. Most companies I know that deal with that sort of cash have no problem using a few PC tools now and then to get the job done. DVDit Pro HD is a pretty decent program and that combined with a copy of Windows and a Blu-ray burner would have only set the company back about $1,000.00. I'm no genius when it comes to money but that is still a pretty darn good profit margin.

Why are people getting so dependant on Apple instead of being creative to get the job done? Quit whining about glorious Apple not making the tools you need and go out there and find ones that will. The world will not end if you use something not made by Apple.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 03:06 AM   #13
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Well said Thomas.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 09:21 AM   #14
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looks like the new Compressor has an option...

"Compressor now includes a setting that allows you to create Blu-ray–compatible H.264 files that can be imported directly into third-party Blu-ray disc authoring software."

and...

"You can now easily burn a Blu-ray disc or a DVD directly from Compressor. Quickly add a menu to your disc by choosing one of the beautiful Apple-designed HD or SD templates included in Compressor. Because Compressor uses an open XML-based template format, you can import third-party or custom templates for a specific look."
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 10:58 AM   #15
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Interesting timing for this discussion.

Still DVDSP is still DVDSP not BRSP. Not really one to speculate but perhaps Snow Leopard will come with some BluRay change. Or Apple could let us come up with the extra money for BluRay authoring just like we have to do with Toast. And those blanks are still expensive!
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