Blu-ray Playback Problems ?

by David Helmly


April 29, 2008

Blu-ray Playback Problems ?

After reading a few emails with people having issues playing back their Blu-ray discs created with Encore (or most other BD-R authoring apps), I thought I should mention a few basic 101 tips to help people just getting started with BR authoring.

FIRMWARE WARS – if you are making BD-R’s for yourself or for your customers, it a good idea to get to know the more popular Blu-ray players. WHY? Most of the older Blu-ray players (if not 100%) need a firmware update to play BD-R or BD-RE (re-writeable). WHY? I’ve heard arguments ranging from constant changing of the Blu-ray spec to copyright issues. Either way it will effect all of us at some point that are burning Blu-ray video from desktop applications like Adobe Encore.

It really does not make a difference when you purchased the player – If your BD-R or BD-RE disc will not play after you’ve burned it and the firmware has not been updated, then you more than likely need to do a firmware update. I have provided a few links to get you started but I highly suggest doing a “Google” on your Blu-ray player model. Try searching for something like “Panasonic DMP-BD30 Firmware”. You will see a ton of posts ranging from links to download the firmware(always look for the manufactures site first) to issues with the current firmware.

Making a firmware disc is fairly straightforward. Most require you to download the file and burn it to a CD-R. When you load the CD-R in the player, it will read the file and ask you confirm the update. Make sure you READ FIRST double-checking the country/region of the firmware.

I mainly use a Sony Playstation 3 for testing projects. The Playstation 3 is currently the cheapest Blu-ray player with an Ethernet port. This really makes it simple for updating firmware via the web. The PS3 seems to get a new firmware update about every 8 weeks or so. The most recent update gave us new BD-Live support that allows access the web from the video or menu for additional content. This may not be a huge feature now but will surely be large part of things to come.

I also use a Panasonic DMP-BD30 for testing and have had excellent results. The new 1.6 firmware offers faster load times. Note ** Sony and Samsung were shipping me test units over a year ago but they are yet to show up. We do have several early Sony and Samsung models in the Encore lab– Some of these models had serious issues early on but were fixed with Firmware updates.

Again – do your research. If you are making Blu-ray discs for sale, make sure to tell your customer that they may need a firmware update to play your BD-R or BD-RE discs.

Hopefully with newer models coming out now, the BR players will work more like standard DVD players as far as playing burned media.

If your player is playing your burned media OK – then DON’T UPDATE to newer firmware without doing a web search first. If it plays your BD-R media then leave it alone. See my comments below on the Playstation 3 2.3 firmware update.

One useful site I like and check often is Http:// . These guys do a great job of keeping up with the issues and firmware links. They also have a good general forum as well.

Quick Firmware Links:



Playstation 3use your System Update feature




BDU 5000

All models

BDP 7200


MEDIA WARS – BR Media is usually not an issue if you use name brand BR media. I have always used Verbatim and not had any issues. To get started with Blu-ray authoring, you should always use BD-RE (re-writeable) media until you know your authoring system and workflow are solid. Issues range from using the wrong ports (ODD SATA Ports on MacPros = BAD) for your Blu-ray drive, software conflicts to bad frames of captured video. Check out my previous posts which list a few of these issues.

Lastly on Media, new Blu-ray Media is being released and uses an organic dye for burning. It will be hard to tell if the older players will have issues reading it until it’s been out for a while. I have not tested this new type of disc but will work with Verbatim on getting some samples and report back. – Just what we need, another variable to add to the mix.

CRAZY ISSUES: I have seen my share of crazy issues with both early DVD burning and now Blu-ray burning. Recently, the Playstation 3 (the best player for testing projects burned with Desktop BR apps) firmware update version 2.3 gave us a ton of new features but also seems to have affected people in different ways in regards to BD-R playback.

Here are a few 2.3 firmware PS3 issues I’ve seen first hand with-in the past 2 weeks.

Playstation 3 20GB model – would not play BD-R media but had no problems playing BR-RE media. (The same project was burned to both BD-R and BD-RE media). Spent quite a while and used 4 different brands of BD-R media – no luck. When I loaded the same BD-R discs into a 60GB version of the PS3 and the Panasonic BD-30, they played perfect no issues.

Playstation 60 GB model – could not control menus (Encore BD-R or Commercial Blu-ray version of Happy Feet) with a PS3 wireless controller. ***Fix – connect a USB cable to the wireless controller and all menus worked OK on both discs. The Sony BD remote worked with out issues. Spent several hours confirming this issue on this particular unit.

What does this mean?
Hard to tell and too many variables. Sony may a few different BD drive mechanisms and/or controllers that they have been using for the different PS3 models over the past few years. They also have several different ways to control the disc menu with different hardware (controllers and remotes) . The GOOD NEWS is that the PS3 gets firmware updates regularly and hopefully this will correct these issues. I’m sure more will crop up. If you make money creating BD discs then I would highly suggest having a regular set top unit like the Panasonic BD-30 for confirming discs that won’t play on a PS3. Until recently, the PS3 has been a very solid player. I’m sure this will be short lived.