Ok, not a new record for many of you out there, but I think it's amusing with so many discussions all around the Creative Cow about how "tape is dead," "DVD is dead" "BluRay is dead" here we are purchasing a bunch of equipment for quick turnaround DVD production. We cranked out 400 DVDs in one day. The assembly line production here yesterday was pretty fun to watch. I called them "My Minions."
At least for another year or so, DVDs are not dead in our world and BluRay has now become the Film Festival delivery format of choice for many of the festivals we're shipping masters to. And why not? The players are sub $100 and the quality is far superior to DVD.
So keep proclaiming hard discs dead and stop purchasing any more duplication gear. Then send your clients to me so we can earn the profits you would have made if you still had any gear around.
We're the facility you wish your facility could be. I'm on a horse.
All of a sudden we're creating a whole lotta BluRay discs these days. NTSC and PAL for screenings all over the world. Sounds like many film festivals are now accepting BluRay discs as a playback format and of course, it's a lot cheaper to do one of these than an HDCAM tape.
So we're in BluRay central right now, regardless of what Steve Jobs might say about the format. What I love about the discs is they pretty much perfectly replicate the quality we see playing off our Apple ProRes timelines in Final Cut Pro. A few weeks ago we did a screening for some executives on a 45' screen in a 450 seat theater playing straight off our BluRay player. The darn thing looked just like a film despite playing at 1080i / 29.97.
Normally we would drop into DoStudio for all our BluRay work but since all the film festivals require is a "Play" button, we're using Adobe Encore as this is about the only task it's well suited for with BluRay authoring. All compression is being done in Apple's Compressor and the menus created in Adobe Photoshop.
We're using Nero on our HP machine to burn the BluRay discs, though we can also use Toast on one of the Mac Pros to do the same task. It's just that the HP was literally purchased to do nothing but BluRay authoring so it's just sitting there needing a task to do. And of course we still have our BluRay duplicator we've had for 3 years now still going strong, though we'll probably have to update to a 4 burner unit so we can turn these around even faster. Maybe when we open the new place.....
Funny, we're a Mac shop turning out BluRay discs that Apple won't even support. Kind of like trying to run Flash on my iPad, but that's a whole 'nother blog entry.....
This problem has been around at least two years since we started using Encore CS3.
Create an Encore BluRay Project on a Mac. In our case, a Mac Pro Octo 3.2 machine running the latest OS, Quicktime and Encore CS4.
Save that project.
Open the project on a second Mac that contains the BluRay burner. In our case a Mac Pro Quad 3.0 machine running the latest OS, Quicktime and Encore CS4.
Get the error message, "This Project was created in Windows and cannot be opened."
I posted a query in the Cow Adobe Encore forum, but no responses so far. I'll let you know if I get anything.
Haven't called Adobe Tech Support because the last time we tried that, they could not figure out why I didn't have any Windows Machines in the shop so how could the project possibly have been created on a Mac? They're not very helpful in my experience.
So I'm just letting you all know, Encore still does not have anything to make you "Come for the BluRay, Stay for the Flash." Fortunately we do have NetBlender's DoStudio in here for real BluRay projects and it works flawlessly.
I had the opportunity to really give Telestream's Episode Pro a test drive recently and I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Details here!
Biscardi Creative Media recently delivered an introductory project for an upcoming feature-length documentary about River Blindness disease. Produced by Gary Strieker and Cielo Productions, the project was a 10 minute overview of what the disease is and a brief look into some of the preventative measures being implemented by The Carter Center.
The presentation, "The Crab and the Fly" was shot in 720p HD in multiple locations in Africa and Latin America over a two year period. Editorial was performed by Aaron R. Stewart and the final presentation was delivered on 1080i BluRay disc using BCM in-house BluRay authoring & publishing tools.
The feature length documentary is scheduled for completion by mid to late 2009.
Saw my first sub-$200 BluRay player yesterday, a $179 Sylvania model at Costco. I'm still partial to the Samsung 1500 unit for about $270, but what a cool evolution from $1,000 just last year to only $179 for a BluRay player.
Now you have no excuse not to get one!! I honestly have a hard time watching DVD's now since we got the BluRay player last year. Especially when it comes to the Pixar films which are just ridiculous on BluRay.
BCM has completed all BluRay disc production for Season One of "Assignment Earth," airing nationally on PBS stations.
Assignment Earth covers environmental and wildlife stories from the front lines around the world. Lead by Producer Gary Strieker, the series has traveled to Mexico, Thailand, China and Africa in just the first season bringing back stunning 720p and 1080i High Definition footage. Artists Walter Biscardi, Jr. and Aaron Stewart teamed up to create the first 5 episodes on BluRay disc, bringing the full quality of the original shows to the home viewer.
The entire series is being self-published at BCM's facility.
Tools used: Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, DoStudio, Panasonic BluRay replicator, FlexWriter IV Printer.
Well, we've got our HP workstation up and running with DoStudio's Trial Version now installed. The Trial version is the complete application with only the commercial replication features turned off.
First impressions are this thing is definitely NOT DVD Studio Pro or Encore. This is a very serious tool along the lines of Apple's Color compared to the 3 Way Color Correction filter in Final Cut Pro. There is a learning curve as a lot of programming is manually done rather than simple drag and drop type of operations. This feels more like a professional authoring tool and less like a toy. Don't get me wrong, I love DVDSP and it's simple drag and drop functionality, but it's nice to essentially have almost endless possibilities open to us and forcing us to actually learn what we're doing. Anybody can drag and drop, but it's nice to be able to get your "hands dirty" and go under the hood to see how to really operate authoring software.
In just one day, we've been able to get a nice main menu and chapter selection pop-up menu already underway. A little snag on the pop-up where we can get it to pop-up but it's not going to the various chapters like we programmed. NetBlender's support has been great to work with so far and we've uploaded the project file for them to poke around and see where we went wrong. I'm sure it's operator error as we've been using the software all of about 6 hours.
One big thing that is missing as of right now is an "Undo." This is reminiscent of Final Touch before Apple purchased it and turned in to Color. Final Touch did not have any sort of Undo so you had to be very careful of what you were doing. NetBlender tells me that Undo is a feature that will be added on this fall with an update and we're already looking forward to it! :-)
The big adjustment is that we have to essentially "forget" the DVD mentality. There are so many different possibilities in authoring BluRay that you have to design the menus and even the overall flow differently. Still wrapping our heads around this, but using this software definitely calls for more planning and thought than just hurry up and get it done.
So many of you have read of our failings with Adobe Encore trying to create BluRay discs. Today we start a new chapter in BluRay authoring by transferring all our needs to NetBlender's "DoStudio."
NetBlender has instituted a really neat month to month licensing option that's approx. $250 per month to use the software. This is truly a month to month deal. So I can activate it for September for $250 and then sign up again in December. There's no extra fees, nothing. They have several plans for 6 months, 12 months or you can outright purchase the software if you want. But in my case, we plan to produce maybe 10 BluRays all of 2009. Probably in batches of 3 or 4, so I might spend $1,000 total next year in the licensing fees, which is significantly less than $8,000 for the permanent license. So to start out, I can just go $250 per month which is easily charged back to the client per job.
The only caveat to this software is that it requires a Window machine, and we're a full blown Mac shop here. So I did what I swore I would never do..... purchased an HP Workstation loaded with Vista. Of course, the sad thing for me is this is a fully loaded workstation for less than $1,700 and I know that if I created a fully loaded Mac Pro it'd be around $5,000 or more. So that's one good thing, I guess!
One really neat little gadget I added on is a 160GB "pocket drive" that slips into the bottom of the HP machine. We'll use this to transfer the large MPEG-2 files and graphics files from our Macs to the HP. Neat idea to essentially put a portable drive that slips in like a USB stick.
So that's Step 1 - get an HP Workstation! I went by NetBlender's recommendations and picked up the following machine:- HP Pavilion Slimline s3500t PC- Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium with Service Pack 1 (32-bit)- Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Quad processor Q9300- 3GB DDR2-800MHz dual channel SDRAM (1x2048,1x1024)- 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9500GS, DVI-I, HDMI, VGA adapter- 1TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive- 802.11 a/b/g/n Wireless LAN card- Blu-ray DVD writer/player & Lightscribe SuperMulti DVD burner- 15-in-1 memory card reader, 2 USB, headphone port- No TV Tuner w/remote control- None (Integrated 5.1 capable sound w/ front audio ports)- Microsoft(R) Works 9.0- No additional security software- HP keyboard and HP optical mouse- 160 GB 5400rpm HP Pocket Media Drive
- HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope
I'll give you folks regular updates as we move forward with this new BluRay authoring tool!
I'm really happy to report publicly for the first time that we'll be providing all post production for 3 feature length documentaries that are currently destined for major film festivals and network HD broadcast in 2009 and 2010. We can trace at least part of this announcement to our investment in BluRay and in-house self-publishing of the high definition discs.
Yesterday a sample 9 minute version of the first of the three proposed documentaries was presented to the Carter Center here in Atlanta. Among the people present were both hollywood executives and an executive of an international television network and most importantly, President Jimmy Carter. It has been Mr. Carter's mission to eradicate major diseases to impoverished areas of the world and in this particular presentation, the story was Guinea worm and its debilitating effect on people, especially the very young. I'm going to be very honest and say that for the first week I had a very difficult time cutting the piece and had to walk out of the suite multiple times a day to get away from the screams of the little girl who serves as the primary focus of this presentation. It was a natural sound story told through the stories of the man who oversees the eradication program for the Carter Center and the volunteers on the ground. All in all, it presents a very powerful emotional punch.
In order to present the project properly, we authored and created a BluRay disc and the production company purchased a Panasonic DLP HD projector for the event. Actually that part is kind of cool because now we have full access to a large format DLP HD projector anytime we need one. In addition to the presentation disc, we duplicated 20 BluRay and 30 DVD copies for all the board and associated personnel to take home. All packaged in proper DVD and BluRay cases with full four color sleeves designed in Photoshop and printed on our own laser printer. The discs themselves were printed on our new FlexWriter IV DVD duplicator / printer.
The fact that we were able to deliver and present the project on BluRay made an immediate impression before the viewing even began. At the conclusion of the presentation, the accolades for both the story and technical quality of the presentation were overwhelming. We will most likely debut at least one of the documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival and it is very likely that all three documentaries will appear on a major international H.D. network in 2009 or 2010. The narrator will be a major hollywood star or potentially several stars, talks are already underway.
What we were able to accomplish by not only jumping in to the BluRay authoring realm, but also the duplication and finishing was to allow our client to look incredibly good in front of a very demanding audience. It's because of this ability to not only tell the story on screen, but deliver it in the highest possible quality anytime, anywhere, that we were granted the offer to be a part of these three documentaries and essentially have one edit suite already fully booked for 2009.
BluRay self-publishing is here and it works.
Apple Final Cut Pro, AJA Kona 3, Apple Compressor 3, Adobe Encore CS3, FastMac BluRay Burner, Panasonic BluRay Duplicator, FlexWriter IV DVD Printer, HP LaserJet 3000 Printer .
7 months into our BluRay authoring experience with Adobe Encore and button routing still does not work correctly in the BluRay mode. We're trying to create a very simple Chapter Selection menu, but no matter what we do, the last button in the menu is always auto selected when you choose the menu and when you want to return to the Chapter Menu, you can't, you always go back to the Main Menu.
We notified the head of the Encore team of this issue on May 28th and also notified him that we had a July 1st deadline for 5 retail BluRay titles. They were supposed to download the files that day and get to work on it. Then June 20 we were asked to upload the files again so they could get to work on it.
To date we have no solutions and essentially had to scrap the Chapter Menu on the titles. Just a word of warning to anyone who wants to plunk down money for Encore CS3. DVD authoring is fine, but if you intend to do BluRay discs, be prepared to make major concessions to the failings of this software.
Well we thought we had things starting to go well with Encore after we figured out that the buttons would turn into blobs and figured out a workaround, but alas, more things just don't work.
One of the supposed really cool things about Encore is the ability to build your entire DVD in Flash. This allows you to upload a working version of the DVD in a flash based format for a client review. Well, we've tried this multiple times on both our Mac Pro Quad 3.0 and our new Octo Core 3.2 and all Encore does is build maybe 10% of the project and then it simply hangs. Really disappointing.
Supposedly this issue has to do with Leopard and the latest Quicktime, but the Mac Pro Quad 3.0 is currently running Tiger and it doesn't work there either.
Also, we've discovered that Encore CS3 is incredibly unstable on the new Octo Core 3.2 as well. Crashing at least every 10 minutes if not more.
Looking for a little help here from folks familiar with Encore. Creating a custom menu in Photoshop using one of the stock Encore Menus as a template. Got nice looking icons in the Photoshop file, but they turn into blobs when they get into Encore. See below.
So here's how the menu appears in Photoshop. Notice the icon next to "Original Songs for Projects" is a nice bow and arrow icon and you can see the file naming structure to the right is correct from Encore.
So now look at the button as it appears in the Preview Mode in Encore next to "Original Songs for Artists." It's just a red blob. And yes, it also appears this way on a burned DVD.
So anyone have any thoughts on why my icon turns into a blob?
The New York Times reports that Warner Brothers has now lined up in Blu-Ray DVD corner effectively giving the Sony format about 70% of the high definition DVD market. They'll continue to release movies on both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray until May and then switch exclusively over to Blu-Ray. This leaves Universal and Paramount along with Dreamworks as the only major studios backing HD-DVD.
As a production company that had to jump into Blu-Ray production in support of one of our clients, this is welcome news for us. I have to say, if you have not seen Pixar's "Cars" and "Rattatoule" on Blu-Ray disc, you have not seen the true capabilities of Blu-Ray. Jaw dropping is the only way I can describe what these movies look like in HD. Better than what it looked like in the theater.
Full article on the New York Times website.
Hello Apple Engineers! Word is Toshiba is dropping HD-DVD. BluRay is the winner by a knockout!
So how about including BluRay authoring support in DVD Studio Pro now? I mean hasn't Apple been on the BluRay side of things since the format was announced? Doesn't Compressor already create files for both HD-DVD and BluRay? Don't BluRay burners for the Mac already exist?
Why am I asking so many questions?
For some reason, despite Compressor supporting BluRay and HD-DVD, despite BluRay burners being available for the Mac, despite Apple supporting the BluRay format (how I'm not sure), we can't author BluRay using Apple products.
So we own Adobe Encore CS3, which of course required us to purchase Adobe Premeire in the process. We own the FastMac internal BluRay burner (excellent) and even own a Panasonic Dual Burner Blu-Ray Replicator (excellent). We've authored 4 BluRay titles to date and will probably author 8 to 20 more before the end of 2008. At some point, I would much rather prefer to work across the Apple Studio Suite rather than having to go from FCP to Compressor to Encore to Toast to the FastMac burner.
So hello Apple Engineers! BluRay Authoring! Please!
Amazon has put together a nice links page to update your HD-DVD and BluRay players. If you don't already know, many machines require firmware updates to be able to play the latest discs, particularly the recordable discs, such as BluRay BD-R discs.
If your machine won't play that latest HD disc, check to see if there's an update for your machine.
For those of you who followed my blog about the issues with the Primera Bravo II DVD Replicator printer, you know that I purchased a DiscMakers Medley unit to replace it.
Well, while DiscMakers claimed the print quality of this unit would be equal to the Bravo II, in reality it isn't. This is disappointing because they both feature the same printing unit from Lexmark. The difference appears to be in the Bravo II drivers as there are many more options available to the user to achieve incredibly sharp text and good solid colors. What was printed as a solid color on the Bravo II is a mottled mess on the Medley as it is just not capable of printing a very tight dot pattern, even at the 4800dpi print setting. And this is using the exact same 300dpi TIF image and exact same DVD stock that was originally printed on the Bravo II so we're comparing apples to apples here.
On the upside, the Medley does reproduce the correct colors on the disc from the original file with minimal tweaking. That was a major issue with the Bravo II as we would have to throw the colors and shading out of whack in order to get acceptable color results on the Bravo II.
As a straight replicator, the Medley performs as expected, absolutely no issues there. But if you are looking for a very high print quality, this definitely would not be your unit. Print quality is decent, but not something you would want to present to demanding clients.
Hi all. We're entering the wonderful world of Blu-Ray authoring and with it, we've discovered that not all Blu-Ray DVD Players are created equal. To author our discs, we have to use BD-R media, as in Blu Ray Disc Recordable. We're using Sony Discs and to my surprise, my $999 Sony Blu Ray player does NOT support BD-R.
Worst part about it is we purchased this machine two months ago, it's been used a total of one hour, and Best Buy will not let me exchange it for a machine that does support BD-R. I even said I don't care about the 15% restocking fee, I just wanted to purchase the correct machine.
So now we have to go out and purchase a new Blu Ray machine while also trying to sell off this machine. So if you plan to start doing any Blu Ray authoring anytime soon, be sure to verify that the machine supports BD-R so you'll be able to play back whatever it is you burn in-house.
Funny I haven't been able to find a Sony model yet that does, but Samsung has one for only $599. Heading down to Fry's tonight to pick it up.
Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.
Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.
Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.
Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.
If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.