Blu-ray mastering with Adobe Encore CS4

Posted on 24 April 2012

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First off, some general knowledge about (non 3D) Blu-ray specs:

  • There are only three regions. If in Europe: choose Region B
  • Max AV bitrate is 48 mbps / Max video bitrate is 40 mpbs
  • Quality max 1080i50 (TFF), 1080p24 or 720p50
  • Video: mpeg2 / vc-1 or h.264/AVC 4.1 (high or main profile)
  • Audio: ac3 is one of the mandatory formats

Then about Blu-ray 3D specs (doesn’t work in Encore CS4 I think):

  • MVC (Multiview Video Coding) Stereo High profile is backward compatible with H.264 (2D) stream, ignoring additional information for the second view.
  • The Blu-ray 3D (profile 5.0) specs also allow for a higher total bitrate of – I believe – about 70 mbps. The main video stream still has a maximum bitrate of 40 mbps, leaving about 20 mbps (50% extra) for the right-eye delta stream.
  • From NetBlender: Valid Frame Resolutions and Frame Rates for BD3D Video
    • 1920×1080 @ 23.976 fps progressive
    • 1280×720 @ 59.94 fps progressive
    • 1280×720 @ 50 fps progressive

Here is a nice overview of all specs.

Transcoding

First step is transcoding the master. I choose AVC for video and ac3 (the same as the DVD file). In this case, as the source is 1080p25, I go for 1080PsF, so 1080i50 encoding.

  • Compressor 3: doesn’t have a peset for h.264 or vc1
  • Compressor 3.5 can make 4.1 high / VBR /2pass 35 mbps conversion, but this seems to get reset automatically to 15 mbps. That’s a shame, because this program might be the only way to use the FCP markers for the compression.
  • Squeeze 7 has blu-ray presets. There is this strange option that’s called ‘set black normalization level to 16’. This looks scary. Google says: The main concept h.264 codec had a resulting gamma shift, which checking this box should correct. Some users say that it doesn’t matter if you use tick this box or not, as the output files are not different. You can set Squeeze to ‘auto key frame on scene changes’, but I don’t think it takes my FCP markers for that. I also found that squeeze only uses one core for h.264 encoding, making it about 5x slower then compressor when you only convert a single file.

I went for transcoding with squeeze on 31000 avarage, so 37200 maximum bitrate. This leaves enough room for the 384 kbps ac3 file. Transcoding of my 80 minutes file is done on all eight cores, and takes about 15 hours (+/- 3 hours), after about an hour it does show the estimated time left.

Error code 6

Importing this file to Encore takes a while (15 minutes or more) without any feedback. So be patient. Then I could place it to the timeline.

Then, building the iso, folder or disk it first starts copying the whole file somewhere (importing). Then after that is finished, Encore fires up the ‘burn engine’ and gives this error:

"fatal error", code: "6", note: "video buffer underflows"

Google says it might be the name of the disk or the files, so I changed everything. Built up another new encore project with short names like ‘disk’ and always got the same error. I re-transcoded the file in squeeze to 25000 kbps (max 28500 kbps) with the same error as a result. I ended up with importing a 6000 kbps file and finally got my disk image without errors.

I should try transcoding to 15 or 20 mbps, see if that passes without an error. But this time I didn’t feel like it anymore, as the error only shows up at the very end of the chain.

Transcoding in Encore

The other option is transcoding within Encore. This has one advantage, as you can get it to transcode for DVD and blu-ray from the same source and the same project. You can set the transcoding settings in the project preferences to 40 mbps maximum.

Authoring

The next step is authoring. Adding menu’s, first play and remote control actions.

Chapter markers

There is no way to import a chapter marker list or substract it from the master file. So the only thing one could do is set the chapters manually.

Menus

This is different from the DVDstudioPro menu system. Encore works with specific names for the photoshop layers. The nice thing is that you can use full-color layers for the buttons. The easiest way to find out the names of the layers is Google.

Timelines

Add timelines and drag your video and audio file into them. My 5.1 ac3 file was accepted without the need for transcoding (both for DVD and Blu-ray). My .264 file only needs transcoding for the DVD.

Actions

Set the first-play action, end actions and restricted user actions. Check everything.

Export

You can export to a folder for testing. Be aware: this is for testing purposes only! You can’t burn your folder to a disk with Encore, so you will need to export an .iso as your final master!

Testing

Then, the next step is testing. As I work on OSX i needed a software blu-ray player. The only player I found is the ‘Mac Bluray Player’ by Macgo. It didn’t workvery well, as it either gives the ‘Invalid Blu-ray disc playlist’ error or shows it’s own menu instead of the disks’ menu. It will only playback the main timeline of my disk, not the other things like menu’s or other timelines.

So I went to windows and installed the free DAplayer, which looks great but is giving me the exact same problem: it would only play the main timeline and not the menu’s and stuff.

So my final resort was the TMT player by ArcSoft. It wanted access to internet and I needed to restart my computer (I don’t like both) but it does playback my disk as I needed.

Playback on a *real* blu-ray player was fine.

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Posted in: DVD & Blu-ray