With the variety of new, lower-cost HDV video cameras on the market today, just about any event videographer can afford to shoot in high definition. Recent versions of popular NLEs have been upgraded to handle HDV editing, and most new editing systems can handle the processing demands associated with HDV postproduction. Unfortunately, due to the format war between HD DVD and Blu-ray, the video production world has been waiting for a solution to deliver HD content to their clients, and fit the technology into their workflow the way DVD Studio Pro has integrated with Final Cut Pro, DVD Architect with Vegas, and Encore DVD with Premiere Pro. And in the absence of HD DVD burners up to this point, most of us are waiting for an answer from the Blu-ray side.
It appears the wait may be over, with software giant Adobe selecting Blu-ray as their format choice for delivery of HD video in the new CS3 version of Encore, which debuts in July with the release of Adobe CS3 Production Premium. Here’s a quick walkthrough of Blu-ray Disc workflow in Encore CS3.
While Premiere Pro CS3 lacks the built-in DVD authoring tool found in Premiere Pro 2.0, the integration with Encore is much tighter in the new version. This allows the user toexport their edited timeline right into Encore. You can export your HDV timeline in the Blu-ray format as astraight-play Blu-ray Disc or a fully authored Blu-ray Discwith menus.
Even better, once your encoded HD file has been broughtinto Encore, it can easily be downconverted to SD for author your Blu-ray Disc, you also get to apply all the robust features that Encore provides to your BD production.
Test Drive: Panasonic SW-5582 Blu-ray Disc Recorder
Adobe Encore CS3 currently supports Blu-ray burners from Samsung, Pioneer, Sony, and Panasonic. I tested the software with the $600 Panasonic SW-5582 Blu-ray Disc Recorder (left), which has worked flawlessly from the start. All of the internal Blu-ray Disc recorders connect to your PC in the same way as your current DVD burner. Installing the drive is a straightforward process: Simply disconnect and remove your current DVD drive and install the Blu-rayburner in its place. Since they use the same cables, it isjust a matter of re-connecting the appropriate cables.
The Panasonic drive is also backwards-compatible with allDVD/CD formats. It can burn CD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, andDVD-R/RW, and dual-layer DVD discs in both formats aswell as DVD-RAM discs. This drive does it all. Unfortunately, burn speeds for Blu-ray Discs are limited to 1X and 2X. A 25GB disc will take up to an hour and 45 minutes to burn, but we can expect these times to improve (just like DVD burn speeds) as drives become faster in the future.
Step 1: Encode Your Premiere Pro Project
From this point, I will walk you step by step through the creationof a Blu-ray Disc using Adobe Premiere CS3, Encore CS3, blank media prices should come down in a few months, discs are expensive enough right now ($18–$25), so you don’t want to dispose of too many rough drafts.
To begin, you will need to install the drive in your system. Once the drive is installed, and you have restarted your PC, make sure that Windows recognizes the new hardware and installs the correct driver. You can easily check this by selecting Properties. Click the Hardware tab and view thedevices that are listed. You should see the Blu-ray burner listed by the manufacturer’s product name. On my system, it is listed as Matsushita BD-MLT SW-558.
Now that we have verified that the drive is installed correctly and is working, go ahead and run Adobe Premiere Pro. Openup one of your HD or HDV projects with a finished timeline that you are ready to burn to Blu-ray. Insert chapter markers using the chapter marker button. These markers will automatically bebrought into Encore when you encode the video.
Once you are ready to export your project to Blu-ray, go ahead and select Export to Encore. This will bring up a dialog box with several options. Name your disc something appropriate. Under Type, select Blu-ray Disc, single-layer MPEG-2 (incidentally, Encore supports both MPEG-2 and H.264/AVC, but we’ll use MPEG-2 for this project).
Next, choose whether you want to Author with Menus or do a Direct Burn without Menus (left). Most of us will want to author discs with menus as we do with DVD. Verify that you have the correct encoding setting selected. Once you have that done, click OK to start the encoding. You will be asked what to name the encoded file and where to save it. Encoding times will vary based on the length of your video and the encoding settings you have chosen.
Step 2: Author Your Disc
After the encoding is finished, Adobe Encore will automatically open and import your video into a timeline (left). From here, authoring is nearly the same as creating a standard DVD. If you are doing a direct burn, all you will need to do is verify your settings and go to the Build DVD menu.
For a fully authored Blu-ray Disc, Encore provides a whole library of menus for you to choose from that are already in HD format. The great thing about these menus is that they can easily be brought into Photoshop and changed your liking with the click of a button. You can use frame grabs from your HD video and replace the background, keeping the titling and buttons intact. Once you have created your menus and added buttons, you will need to link the buttons to the individual chapters.
Step 3: Build Your Disc
Make sure to check your project for errors before burning your disc using the Check Project wizard. Go ahead and select Build > Disc to bring up the Build dialog box (left). From here you want to choose Blu-ray under Format and select Blu-ray Disc in the Output drop-down box.
Step 4: Burn Your Disc
Your destination should automatically display the Blu-ray burner. If not, select it from the Recorder drop-down menu. With the blank disc inserted, you should see how manygigabytes are used up by your project. Once you press Build, Encore will begin creating the files necessary for yourBlu-ray Disc and write them to the disc (left).
Step 5: Test Your Disc
Once the burn is complete, you'll want to test the disc. I recommend getting CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra for testing your Blu-ray Disc on your PC (left). This software costs $99 and plays all of the latest formats, including Blu-ray and HD DVD. If you verify that the disc plays without any problems, you can test the disc on a PlayStation 3 or standalone player.
Of course, if you haven't invested in a Blu-ray player yet, a trip down to Best Buy is in order to try out your disc on the display models. This is great for testing compatibility among various players being sold. Compatibility is far from universal at this point, and is changing with every new release and firmware update.
Now that you have created the Blu-ray Disc, you can easily takethe same project and burn the video to DVD. Encore will automatically downconvert the Blu-ray format to standard DVD. This is great if your clients want to give copies of their video to parents, relatives, or customers (depending on the type of project you're working on) who don't have a Blu-ray player yet.
Another great feature is the Export to Flash option. This is agreat option for putting DVD content on the web. You can host your client’s wedding for virtually anyone (or anyone you invite) to see worldwide. Not only do others get to see your work, but they do so in a way that is just like watching a DVD on their home DVD player, which means you can use the web to show off not just the quality of your video and editing but also your DVD authoring prowess.
It’s nice to see that there are finally some options out there for creating and delivering weddings and other professional video productions in HD that fit effectively in our familiar NLE workflow. Adobe has created an integrated solution that makes the process easy and streamlined. With thecost ofBlu-ray burners such as the Panasonic SW-5582 dropping with each new release, it makes it a very affordable solution for burning and delivering HD events.
Chris Randall, a 2006 EventDV25 honoree, is co-owner of award-winning Tacoma, Washington-based studio Edit 1 Media.