Apple’s Compressor & Encore Blu-Ray

by David Helmly


April 11, 2008

Creating MPEG-2 Output Files for Blu-ray with Apple’s Compressor 3

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from FCP Users on how to create "Blu-Ray legal" MPEG2 files using Apple’s Compressor version 3.02. Here are a few simple steps to get you started as well as few tips for the new Blu-ray author. For the record, I have been able to get the H.264  AppleTV setting to play on some players but it is not 100%. My engineering team says that the version we tested (3.02) does not create true legal H.264 Blu-ray. Looks like 3.03 was recently released and has new AppleTV settings – not sure if anything changes in 3.03 yet – My guess is no.


Tips for the new Blu-ray (BR) user.

For those of you that are new to Blu-ray authoring, it is critical to make sure your burner is connected and working properly (see the last blog entry on the MacPro ODD port(Optical Disk Drive) to get an idea of some of the hardware issues that are cropping up – the safest thing to use is an external BR firewire burner) Always use re-writable BD-RE media when testing. This will save you MONEY. (For the record, I use Verbatim) Burning a Data Disk using Toast is NOT A VALID BR BURN TEST. Blu-ray players are very picky about the video they playback. Encore will usually ERROR if it finds a problem. Unfortunately, the EncoreCS3 Error messages don’t really tell you anything useful – but it does catch them. The Error usually comes during the Build Cycle (Indexing the LongGOP). If you get an Error 6, for starters, try creating a NEW smaller version of the project with a simple Encore menu from the Library Panel. Error 6 can also happen if you have an invalid menu (buttons too close or invalid highlight state -Remember KISS , Keep It Simple, if you are new to BR. If the disk burns OK after your NEW project test, then try re-creating the project from scratch, you more than likely have a corrupt project. If the re-created project does not burn, then you more than likely have a bad video/audio (out of Spec) file. I have looked at lots of trouble projects and it usually boils down to out of BR spec video( coming from Compressor or Avid) . The issue is more the new BR user playing with output settings.It’s not really Apple or Avid issue other than it would be really nice to see a standard BR export option that works cross platform and different authoring systems.Both FCP and Avid can create legal MPEG2 files for Encore.Some exports produce high quality video that won’t build properly in Encore this mainly happen when the Video and audio are different lengths and are off by a few frames.(zoom in on the Timeline @ frame level at look at the last frame for both audio and video – they need to be the same length for BR) this will cause an Encore error when building. To fix it, just trim the video or audio back a few frames so they are the same length. Sometimes you will see that the timecode is different for the video track and audio track in the Properties Panel. While Photoshop can really get your menus looking amazing, it can cause lots of issues if you do not understand the Syntax (Symbols) in the layers Panel in Photoshop and you start changing them. The Syntax tells Photoshop what each layer is supposed to do on the menu during active states (triggering an action, highlights and so on). If you are new, do yourself a favor and keep it simple – Pick an Encore menu from the Library Panel and don’t change (Add) the buttons in Photoshop, change (add) them in Encore. Creating menus is fairly simple in Photoshop once you take the time to see how they work. I can’t stress enough how important it is to do a few simple tests with your new burner set-up, knowing that it can burn a playable BR will ease your stress during the long encode times. (BTW – there is a new Blu-ray Hardware board for PremierePro/Encore encoding , I have been testing it for several months. It will be released by ADS as the Kompressor board. It’s made by a company called Ambric (yes – Mac and WIndows) I’ll do a review video of the board in an upcoming blog. I mainly use a Panasonic BD30K and a Sony PlayStation3 for my BR playback tests.

(Blu-ray high quality 2 pass H264 encode times can take many , many hours( 30 hours for 130 min). MPEG2 encode times are much shorter and single pass is realtime on highend machines.The last thing you want is to waste time encoding and not being able to burn( I’ll say it again – test your burner with a small project).

How to create a quick simple test:

The easiest and most simple test is to create a simple 5 minute video in PremierePro (just import some FCP mov clips) and File>Export>Adobe Media Encoder and choose MPEG2 Blu-ray and import the files into Encore, select the video and audio clips in the Project bin , rightmouse click and select Timeline. Goto the properties panel and set the end action (just "pickwhip it" back to the clip in the Project Panel. Click on the build Panel and burn to Blu-ray. We have several videos on AdobeTV ( which will show you a few quick demos of Encore)


Adobe Media Encoder from PremierePro :


(Thanks to the Encore Engineering team for double checking the workflow steps)


Apple’s Compressor MPEG-2 settings.

Step-by-Step instructions for using Apple’s Compressor v3.0 to
create Mpeg-2 stream and burn Blu-ray disc using Encore CS3.

Background Info on MPEG-2 Streams.

Types of MPEG-2 stream:
There are three common Mpeg-2 stream types that are used to deliver MPEG-2 encoded video in Compressor(v3.02) :
Elementary streams: These streams contain only one Mpeg-2 content and no audio.
Transport streams: These streams can contain several Mpeg-2 content channels and associated audio.
Program streams: These streams contain only one Mpeg-2 content channel and its associated audio.
By default, the Compressor Mpeg-2 encoder creates elementary streams. You have to configure the Mpeg-2 encoder to Program streams to create Mpeg-2 files for Blu-ray.

Quick and Easy Workflow
The following workflow shows you the easiest way to create Mpeg-2 Program streams for use in Encore CS3.

Step 1: Add source media files to Compressor
1 Double-click the Compressor icon in the Applications folder.

2 Drag source files from the Finder or the desktop to the Batch window.

Step 2: Assign settings to jobs

1 Choose the setting for your source media file jobs in the following way:
Drag setting from Apple->Formats->MPEG-2->Program Stream under the “Settings” tab

Step 3: Make your MPEG-2 Settings

The MPEG-2 pane opens with the default Video Format tab.

Watch This:

Stream Usage pop-up menu allows you to choose how you intend to use the
MPEG-2 stream. Choose Blu-ray option.

Choose appropriate format in Video Format tab.

Step 4: Submit the batch
Your batch is ready to be submitted. Click the Submit button to submit your batch


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