** UPDATED March 2008 ** Working with Adobe Encore CS3 and Blu-ray

by David Helmly

Created

March 2, 2008

During our internal CS3 beta cycles of Adobe PremierePro CS3 and Adobe Encore CS3 , I spent most of my efforts on HDV and Blu-ray workflows while prepping for NAB 2007. The idea was to come up with a simple workflow allowing the user to ingest HDV and end up with a playable Blu-ray disc for the Sony Playstation 3, which is currently the least expensive Blu-ray player.  In the Adobe booth we demo’d Blu-ray authoring on an Intel QuadCore Mac and playing burned media on a Playstation3. We had 2 Blu-ray discs, one encoded as MPEG2 Single Pass (draft mode) and a H.264 Two Pass (High Quality Mode) ** UPDATE ** Since this article was written last year, I have spent my early 2008 efforts on working with Panasonic P2 footage and Blu-ray and have been very happy with the workflow. P2 footage to Blu-ray works amazing well with Encore. Look for an upcoming article. Once you go tapeless , it’s hard to go back to tape. I’ll also be working with Sony EX tapeless footage this year as well – Stay tuned.

In the Sony booth Blu-ray area, a Sony Rep was demoing and burning Blu-ray discs from EncoreCS3 via a Sony burner and Dell machine. He was taking the burned BD-RE Sony disc from the Dell Desktop and playing it in the PS3.For time sake, they were also encoding in MPEG2 Single pass “draft mode” and using a standard DVD size project (720×480). This allowed them to demo a complete “click to burn” cycle in just a few minutes. They wanted to show a complete Blu-ray workflow from PremierePro’s Timeline to Encore to Auto Erase to burn, and lastly, playing in the PS3. It was a great demo. The video quality was so so, but keep in mind that the idea was to show the workflow, not wait for a long H264 Encode for the highest quality.

Read on to learn more …….

CREATING THE PROJECT

For my tests I used the Mac OSX version of Adobe PremierePro CS3 and Encore CS3. For hardware, I used a new 8 Core MacPro Desktop and my 17” MacBookPro laptop. Both systems have internal Blu-ray Matsushita Panasonic BD drives. The Mac Laptop has the new Matsushita  UJ-215I internal BD drive (www.fastmac.com and only fits the 17”) and 3 GB RAM. The Mac Desktop has the Matsushita SW-5582 drive and 8GB Ram. Both Macs are running 10.4.9. ** A note for PC users, I will be running the same workflow tests shortly on XP and expect similar results. The current tests had more to do with getting a fast machine for H.264 crunching and the 8 core mac was available. I recently upgraded my GravTY XP desktop (The DV Shop.com) to an 8 Core system running CS3 and will be posting the results soon. Having an 8 Core machine ( Intel Mac or PC) makes all the difference when it comes to processing power. Adobe and Intel have done a great job on utilizing the 8 Cores to about 80% (See screen grab). I did the same test on a 4 Core machine and all 4 cores were pegged at 98-99% – meaning that more processors would help.

Graphic shows Intel Mac 8 Core 3.0 Ghz running 8 cores at 85% . Blu-ray Encode

The above Mac screen grab shows the 8 Core processors crunching a H.264 Two Pass file. Note the processors levels.  I did a quick test on an 8 Core PC and got the similar results. If you were wondering whether to spring for an 8 Core, this should help your decision.Both the Mac and PC have utils for monitoring the performance of your memory and processors.

KNOW YOUR SOURCE

For source material, I used both Canon and Sony HDV demo tapes. The Canon tapes had demo footage from their new HV10, XH A1, and XH G1. The Sony tape had demo footage from their Z1U camera. Sony overlaid a Sony Z1U Logo in the upper right hand corner, which means at some point it was recompressed back to HDV and put back on tape therefore making the Canon footage a little cleaner. For BEST results, shoot your own HDV footage so you know where the source originated. After NAB, I used some of my own HDV footage I shot with a Canon XH G1 and the final Blu-ray quality was simply amazing. I am totally sold on the XH G1 and SDI.

THE REAL WORK

The HDV capture process in Premiere CS3 is the same as earlier versions of PremierePro. By picking the correct HDV project preset when I launched PremierePro, the HDV capture settings were ready to go.

One thing to point out, HDV to Blu-ray projects can get very large rather quickly. Most people just keep track of the footage files and their sizes, but when you start encoding for Blu-ray (or DVD) you can take up an additional 12GB per hour ( 3 Gb per hour for Standard DVD) and finally, once Encore starts the burning process, you take additional space to create the Image File (another 12GB per hour) which is burned on the disc. This Image file is automatically deleted once the burn is completed. Obviously, the file size will differ depending on your encoding method and settings. H.264 is roughly 7 GB per hour and MPEG2 is roughly 12GB per hour – but having a general rule of how much working space you need on your drive is key – many drives have errors on various long processes when they reach the last 20% of the drive. This one of many reasons to always create a simple internal 2 drive Striped Raid set for your video data.

For this first test project, I captured 10 minutes of 1440x1080i HDV footage, created a simple title logo and exported using the Adobe Media Encoder (AME). The new version of AME allows you to encode Blu-ray as either MPEG2 or H.264.  In all cases I used the standard High Quality presets (make sure to double check that your frame rate is correct 29.97 NTSC or 25 PAL and so on). MPEG2 Single Pass encodes faster than RealTime. I found the Single Pass quality to be very useful when you want to quickly create a “draft” quality Blu-ray. For the best quality, I found using H.264  Two Pass (High Quality Preset – check your frame rate) to be excellent. The encode time was about 41 minutes for the 10 minute timeline (basically a 4 to 1 encode). REMEMBER, that I am using an 8 core Mac with 8GB ram. When I ran the same 10 minute test on my Core 2 Duo 2.33 Ghz 17” laptop, the results were 24 minutes for the MPEG2 Single Pass and 110 Minutes  H.264 Two Pass.

Encode Times Table for the 8 Core Intel 3.0Ghz

Compression Type

10 Minute HDV Encode

File Size in GB

MPEG2 Single Pass

8 min (Fast Draft Quality)

2.1

MPEG2 Two Pass

14 min

2.1

MPEG2 CBR

8 Min

2.1

H.264 Single Pass

25 Min

1.1

H.264 Two Pass

41 Min (Best Quality)

1.2

H.264 CBR

18 Min

1.4

Source: Sony Z1U 1440x1080i

Hardware: Macintosh MacPro Dual Quad 8 Core 3.0 Ghz. 8 MB Ram. OSX 10.4.9

Adobe Media Encoder shows MPEG2 and H264 encoding options for Blu-ray encoding

Encore CS3 Blu-ray HDV Project settings

Next step, Launch Encore CS3 and select Blu-ray for Authoring Mode, 1440×1080 for Dimensions and H.264 or MPEG2 as the codec (depending on which one you exported out of PremierePro).For my quick test, I simply imported the video and audio files (takes a few minutes to read the H264 file, be patient) and selected both clips in the Project Panel, right mouse clicked and selected New >Timeline. Encore automatically named the timeline with the same name of the first selected clip, in my case, Sony H.264. From Project Panel I selected the Sony H.264 Timeline and took the End Action “pick whip” from the Properties Panel and dragged it to the Sony H.264 Timeline in the Project Panel.

Encore CS3 Timeline Properties Panel

This creates a quick looping project. Next, I clicked the gray area in the Properties Panel, which will change the Properties Panel to Disc. I used the “pick whip” again on the Title Button and dragged it to the Sony H264 Timeline in the Properties Panel. This will allow you to select the “Title” button on your Blu-ray remote and restart the Disc from the beginning. Lastly, I selected the Build Panel and pressed the [Check Project] button and then [Start]. This would have listed any errors in the project. There were none.

I use Verbatim BD-RE (re-writable) Blu-ray media as they always result in a great quality disc. Encore can erase them in just a few seconds and they can be used over and over allowing you to start with a quick preview of the video quality without wasting a BD-R disc (write-once). Encore goes through several processes before writing the disc. Some of these are ; Transcoding the Audio (remember, the video was already transcoded from Premiere and AME), Importing Sequences, Building Movies (folders),  Building Disc Image, and finally Write the disc.

The write speed currently is 2.5x on the Desktop models and 1.0x on the internal laptop slim drive. If you are writing a 20GB disc, it will take a while. Again, this is a great reason to use reliable media BD-RE media for testing in case something fails.

Encore CS3 Build Panel

After the write process was completed Encore ejected the disc. I put the disc in the Playstation3 and in just a few seconds the video was playing. *** Note *** the Playstation 3 requires the 1.6 or higher firmware update to play BD-R and BD-RE discs. If you have a PS3, make sure you have updated the Firmware using the System Update.

I have also played the disc on the Samsung and higher end Blu-ray players with no issues.

A FEW MORE NOTES

If you are new to Blu-ray authoring, you will find the process in Encore to be much the same as creating a standard DVD. The Menu creation is the same with the exception of the size of the menu (HD), I did have one menu, which the quality seemed low, and I realized that the menu I selected was a 720×480 size , after adjusting the size in Photoshop to HD, it looked fine. In later tests, I created larger projects (2 Hrs) and used sub-menus, the same as if I was creating a standard DVD. Encore had no issues.

Be careful when adjusting the bit rates for video and audio, try using the default settings in AME and Encore. I always use AME straight from PremierePro rather than importing the Quicktime or AVI into Encore and having Encore Trascode the video. It’s simply a matter of disc space. Both Premiere and Encore use the same AME engine, only the presets are slightly different.

(OK – The War is OVER. THIS IS OLD NEWS) WHAT ABOUT HD DVD ?

WHAT ABOUT BD-J ?

I also got a ton of questions at NAB on BD-J (Java) which is a method of making an interactive Blu-ray menu and more. This is obviously a possible future direction for Encore and other Blu-ray authoring systems, but requires an entirely new menu-editing mode. The BD-J authoring system I saw at NAB used a ton of Java command lines and,  to me, this seems to me to be the wrong approach for the typical user of Adobe video tools. We will have to wait and see what the Encore Engineering team dreams up for BD-J or maybe they have a different approach all together ; )

FINAL THOUGHTS

I wasn’t’t quite sure what to expect from creating my first Blu-ray disc. The PremierePro editing and Encore process was as simple as creating standard DVD’s with the exception the various settings. The 1440×1080 workflow seems to be perfect for the standard LCD’s and Plasma 16:9 screens as the 1440 image fills the entire screen. The HD quality looked beautiful and I now seem to be spoiled and whenever I see a standard DV project burned to a Standard DVD-R it just isn’t the same. The only thing I can compare it to is Cassette Tape to Compact Disc. As we all know, Cassette Tape is pretty painful to listen to after years of Cds.

 

UPDATE 5/17  David Helmly Adobe Systems,Inc.

I have been getting questions on the various Blu ray burners we have tested with Encore CS3 and we will be posting them on the Adobe site once PremierePro CS3 and Encore CS3 ship this summer.
Some of the models we have tested: Pioneer BDR-101A , Sony BWU-100A , Plextor PX-B900A , Lacie d2 External Blu-ray Drive , Matsushita UJ-210S , Matsushita SW-5582 , Matsushita UJ-215I slim laptop, Phillips SPS7000 , LITE-ON LS2B1S , LG GBW-H10N. Note I plan to check out the new Primera Bravo SE Blu and the Bravo XR-Blu as they also use the Matsushita Panansonic SW-5582.

Entry Update 3/01/08

IMPORTANT MacPro UPDATE: Using the 2 ODD onboard SATA ports.

I have had a lot of questions recently on using the Optical Disk Drive (ODD) SATA ports on the MacPro towers with Encore Blu-ray burning. These 2 ports are located under the Front Fan Housing. People wanting to install an internal Blu-ray drive are finding it more and more difficult to get their hands on the older IDE/ATA Blu-ray drives like the Sony 100A or the Panasonic 5582 or others. These drives can simply connect to the spare IDE cable in the MacPro drive cage. SATA Blu-ray drives like the new LG GGW-H20L , Pioneer BDC 202, and the Sony BWU 200S are becoming cheaper and cheaper, now under 399.00. It would seem like a quick and easy solution to simply connect the SATA Blu-ray drive to one of the ODD SATA ports on the MacPro logic board. If you choose this route you WILL run into a ton of burning issues. I have spent hours testing this and it will not work reliably as of today. I see issues with burning a simple BR data disk in Mac OS 10.5.2, which now appears to support Blu-ray BD-R mounting and writing (Apple makes no mention of supporting BR) . Toast 8 seems to have issues burning BR with the SATA ports as well.

Someone from the Apple Hardware team responded to us with this statement:

“I spoke with our engineering folks and they’ve said that those ODD SATA ports were never intended for customer expansion. They were there for future possible expansion. In the current Mac Pro 2008, those ports should be turned off completely. It looks like the best alternative right now is the approach you’ve taken with the converter board. I’ll keep poking around to see if there is any more data on this but for now, I think that the best answer is that those ports aren’t supported for expansion.”

I also spoke to our lead engineer on Encore and asked him to double check with Sonic (they write the Blu-ray and DVD drivers for Encore) and he replied with this:

“The AS_Storage team found a problem in the transport layer in OSX. They’re going to report the bug to Apple, but will look for a work-around in the mean time. I’ll let you know if we find a resolution.”

I HAVE FOUND A WORKABLE SOLUTION FOR INSTALLING SATA INTERNAL BLU-RAY DRIVES:

You need to buy a cheap (20-30 US dollars) 40 pin IDE/ATA to SATA converter adapter. This small adapter connects to the back of the SATA drive and gives you 40 pin IDE on the back side and it appears to work OK. I have been testing this found no down side. You may need an IDE extension cable depending on the SATA drive you buy. My Pioneer BDC 202 Blu-ray drive did need a 4″ extension cable. The drive still shows 4x speed. If anything changes on using the ODD SATA ports on the MacPro , I will post info. For now, save your self the headache and get an older IDE internal drive or SATA with the Manhattan Adapter or use an External Blu-ray burner (best solution) PLEASE BE SMART – HAVE AN AUTHORIZED MAC SERVICE CENTER INSTALL THESE DRIVES: you don’t want to void your warranty.

If you want to try the Manhattan adapter, here is some info:

Purchase:
http://www.computercablesource.com/sata-adapter-adapt-your-serial-ata-drive-to-a-ide-40-pin-controller-manhattan-170000-internal-use-1383.html

Hope this helps
DKH

COMMENTS

  • By Philip Colmer - 6:31 AM on May 17, 2007  

    Thanks for this very useful article. It is good to see an explanation of why HD DVD isn’t currently supported. Hopefully, either Blu-ray will win the format war, or more HD DVD burners will come to market & Adobe will update Encore.I’m looking forward to HD consumer electronics becoming more widespread so that I can put all of this to good use … particularly those cores in my machine! Good to see that Adobe’s software is going to make good use of them.

  • By Chris Carlton - 8:42 AM on May 17, 2007  

    Wow, that’s very cool, glad to have a resource to get into this. DTV at 1440 is perfectly acceptable to me and others, very nice!

  • By DanielK - 4:25 PM on May 18, 2007  

    Thanks Dave for the info. However, encoding the HDV transport stream (which is MPEG2 also) to MPEG2 or H.264 probably creates a big loss of quality. The HDV compression quality is pretty big already. But than again, there is no way around it…I was wandering, if I didn’t want to edit my HDV footage, just transfer it to blu ray, could the blu ray player play the native transport stream?I remember JVC had a dvd player that was able to do exactly that (can’t remember the model)…————————————–Response from Dave Helmly:Dan,Good question. The H264 2 pass quality looks pretty good as is. The MPEG2 1 pass looks a little ruff for a final disc but is great for testing navigation review, and encodes really fast. MPEG2 two Pass at 30 looks really good as well but creates bigger files.I’m sure as Blu-ray and HD-DVD catch on we will see a number of devices to do straight/easier transfers. The BD folder(s) has to be created one way or another so encoding will happen either way. PremierePro uses native HDV M2T (Transport Streams) on the timeline and creates an Index list to perform the edit which makes the editing a little faster and cleaner.I have been recently testing a new device which converts HDV 1394 Fire Wire to SDI and allows you to skip the Long GOP step all together. The idea is to use one of the SDI cards like AJA, BlackMagic or Matrox to ingest uncompressed.The quality is fantastic! I have tested the unit on the AJA 2K Xena, Blackmagic MultiBridge Extreme and Matrox Axio.The unit is called the HD-Connect SI is made by Convergent Designs (www.convergent-designs.com) I plan to do a complete write-up on the device. Convergent Designs makes a number of similar devices with various I/O. Blackmagic Designs also makes a product for HDMI called the Intensity – another excellent way to skip the Long GOP step.

  • By Luisa Winters - 4:32 PM on May 23, 2007  

    Hi Dave,Thanks for the blog, it is great to have a place to come and read about these issues.We all know that you are the tech guru in Adobe!Thanks for the blog!!!Luisa

  • By drew - 2:56 AM on June 3, 2007  

    I too am using an 8-core mac pro with 8 gigs of ram…thank goodness…those encoding times would take forever——————-Drew,I think you’ll be happy with the results. After doing more encoding tests with the Dual Core 17″ mac laptop during my travels, I’m always happy to get back to the office and use the 8 core.For the PC users, the 8 Core http://www.thedvshop.com GRAVity machine is doing excellent as well running under XP.DKH

  • By Rebecca - 9:24 AM on July 14, 2007  

    Well done!

  • By Martin - 3:08 PM on July 29, 2007  

    Hi Dave,From this blog I conclude that you are a true specialist in HD area using Adobe software. I am now hesitating between Apple Final Cut pro and Adobe Premiere. Crucial difference is Apple can build HD DVD and Adobe can build blu-ray. I already have Playstation 3 so I would be inclined towards CS3. There is however one feature in Apple FCP (DVD Studio Pro) that seems very appealing to me: you can build HD structure and burn it on the regular red laser DVD5, which actually can be played on Toshibe HD player. My question to you is this: can I build a blu-ray format usind Encore, burn it on the regular DVD5 and still play it on Playstation3 ? I understand the limitation how long this movie can be due to DVD5 capacity but I believe I can fit 30-40 minutes of high definition footage anyway. I will really appreciate the answer, since a blu-ray burner for MacBook Pro which I have (same as you mention in your article) is not an option for me right now.—————-Reply from DKHMartin,Blu-ray burning requires Blu-ray media. If you use a re-writable disc, it saves on costs when doing trial and error. The PS3 can only play standard DVDR type media and content and Blu-ray media and content.One of the cool features of HD DVD is supporting Red Laser (Standard DVDR) media for short length HD content. There are several video industry groups which favor HD DVD simply because of the cost of media (Adult Video being the main one). The cost of replication is also a key factor for these groups. HOWEVER, none of these groups are making the kinds of video the typical Adobe, Apple, and Avid user make. Most our these NLE users want a high quality HD disc. Whether it’s Blu-ray or anything else is really not that important, but being able to successfully play it back in a retail player is the key. Recent data polls show Blu-ray is currently leading race in the US. Blockbuster and Target recently announced they will be carrying only Blu-ray. This doesn’t mean the battle is over, but for now I would advise getting a Blu-ray Burner for your laptop or desktop. They are easy to install and so far I have not seen any major issues if you stick with a major brand. Once we start actually seeing HD DVD burners for laptops and desktops, we can finally start to watch the numbers.I have seen several Laptop and desktop players but not burners.I have also talked to a few blank media companies and HD DVD is not really moving at all. Blu-ray is starting to pick up. Replication costs seem to really be a key factor when making an HD disc. But, again for most of us, replication is not a concern yet.It will be once people understand the new rules for creating HD. Aspect Ratios, mixing media and Photos and audio all need to be created correctly in order to make a good quality disc. At Adobe, we choose the simple route for our first HD Disc authoring application. This means, using standard DVD menuing type scripts instead of BD-J which requires high level send user scripting. Quality seems to be the first thing people want to see for the first round of HD authoring apps.Yes, there are many people who want more than simple menuing and good quality, for them there is Sonic Scenarist. (Keep in mind that Encore is based on licensed Sonic code:) The Encore team is looking ahead and very busy. You can rest assured that they are watching the industry and talking to customers.

  • By K - 10:51 AM on August 8, 2007  

    I don’t get it. Why did you rerender the HDV footage instead of just burning that to the disc? HDV plays in HD DVD player. Secondly. You don’t need an HD DVD player to burn HD DVDs. You can burn up to 40 minutes of HD DVD mpeg on a standard dvd and they play in HD DVD players. Why didn’t you account for this?————————————-Reply from DKHKen, you are correct (mostly correct) on playing HDV on HD DVD players, however, many problems can come up on how the HDV was captured and processed/rendered. HDV is a loose spec using several ways compressing the MPEG2 stream. Most customers we spoke to want menu support in HD and spending the time on HD DVD menuing would delayed EncoreCS3 and since no true HD DVD desktop PC burners were shipping , it made since to wait. There are several quick and easy programs to dump HDV footage on a DVD and have it play, our typical user base wants to take it a step further and make a more finished piece. We are completely open to the idea of HD DVD support and have not ruled it out. This up coming Holiday season will be a very interesting battle between formats.

  • By Buzz - 3:54 PM on August 13, 2007  

    Do you have a list of specific BLU-RAY players that are compatible with discs authored in Premiere CS3? Also, are there specific firmware versions that are required for BDR video playback?——————————Reply from DKHBuzz, the drives are listed in the Blu-ray Encore post. PremierePro CS3 is scripted to use EncoreCS3 for burning. Some of the models we have tested: Pioneer BDR-101A , Sony BWU-100A , Plextor PX-B900A , Lacie d2 External Blu-ray Drive , Matsushita UJ-210S , Matsushita SW-5582 , Matsushita UJ-215I slim laptop, Phillips SPS7000 , LITE-ON LS2B1S , LG GBW-H10N.As for firmware, current firmware for most drives seem OK. We had issues with a few drives early on but newer firmware update fixed them.Once the Playstation 3 firmware was updated for BDR playback, the drive guys were quick to act.

  • By Buzz - 4:24 PM on August 13, 2007  

    Thanks for the list. Do you have a similar list for compatible set-top Blu-Ray players as well?———————-Response from DKHRecommended BD Players with latest Firmware::Sony Playstation 3Sony BDP-S1Panasonic DMP-BD10These work with latest firmware, but has received less testing -Samsung BD-P1000 (update to 1.2 firmware)Philips BDP9000 (update to 5-22-2007 firmware)

  • By zbrunch - 3:21 PM on January 14, 2008  

    Does Apple’s Compressor support the correct format for Blu-Ray?In other words, I want to edit using Final Cut and use Encore CS3 for the blu-ray authoring.Does Encore CS3 support creating a master for professional duplication?Thanks for the post, very infomative.——————Response from DKHYou should be able to use Compressor with no issues. I have not tested it but have read several posts where people are doing it. You can export your FCP movie in any Apple format (DVCPro, ProRes and so on, and then import the movie into Encore. Depending on the length of your final video , you need to pick either MPEG2 for Blu-ray or H264 for Blu-ray. MPEG2 at a high bit rate looks great and compress fairly fast but MPEG2 HD files take up a ton of space. H.264 has extremely long encode times but takes much less space. 2.5 hours of HDV and H.264 medium setting is only 18GB. We did release a new 3.02 update for Encore which addressed some issues with long H264 projects and I would highly suggest you make sure you are running the latest.One more tip…… I always make a Blu-ray Image so I can burn more copies later if needed. This will require Toast on the Mac or Nero on Win. Burning in Encore works great but it does not support burning images. You can create BR Images and give those to replication houses. True Blu-ray mastering is not yet supported, very few authoring programs support it.Anyone needing to master blu-ray would more than likely buy a high-end Sonic system. We have not had much request for it yet. I am pushing for support so stay tuned.You can also create BR folders which can be used.At Macworld 2008 , I will be showing a new hardware based encoder for encoding either MPEG2 Blu-ray or H.264 Blu-ray. The board is based on the Ambric chip and will released by ADS Tech. It will be called the Pyro Kompressor HD board and will export directly out PremierePro CS3. It’s both OSX and WIN compatible and very impressive.