18 Replies Latest reply on Nov 24, 2008 3:55 PM by Jim_Simon

    EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!

    Level 1
      I've done my second round of compatibility tests of BD-R discs this week.

      The last test was with BD-RE discs. Those results were abysmal.

      This week, I tested Sony, Panasonic and Samsung players on display at Sears.

      We did better, in that instead of 0% play success, we had 40% of the players read the disc and play it, but still 40% is not good enough to consider Blu-ray as a viable delivery medium for clients in event video applications. It has to be 98% or better (100% now with DVD--I have not had a client complaint about my DVDs since 2003).

      The Sears tests were as follows:

      Panasonic "cannot read this disc"

      Sony "cannot read disc"

      Samsung (played disc)

      other Samsung (played disc)

      The discs were authored with Adobe Encore.

      My understanding is that the Blu-ray spec *requires* AACS encryption. Players that are fully-compliant will eject discs lacking AACS, which is what seems to be happening here. The Panny deck identified the disc in 7 seconds and ejected it as unplayable. The Sony took 11 seconds to do the same.

      In order to apply AACS encryption, the discs have to be replicated. Replication facilities require CMF (cutting master format) files. Encore does not support CMF.

      In order for the Blu-ray format to really be a success, it needs to provide a level playing field for both Hollywood and indie producers without thousands of dollars to spend on an AACS license.

      I was talking with an associate about this the other day and he raised the question of when videographers would start a class action against the Blu-ray consortium. I can see this being a possibility after enough event videographers get burned by the intentional crippling of the majority of BD players, including software players on PCs. The industry says it's just trying to prevent piracy by preventing burned discs from playing on most set top players, but the discs already cost more than a commercially produced BD, so the piracy issue is moot, since it's cheaper to buy the real movie than to copy it to a blank disc costing 2.5X more.

      I'm concerned as to how we'll be able to distribute this great EX1 footage in high def, given the hit & miss (mostly miss) nature of Blu-ray. We can't be trying to assist clients with firmware updates, either. And since the Sony playstation 3 update that killed BD-R playback last summer, I don't trust firmware updates for players that DO play BD-R today. An update could render such players useless next month.

      So how do we distribute short-run video in HD, other than Blu-ray?
        • 1. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
          Curt Wrigley Level 4
          AACS encryption is required on Bluray mastered disks.

          Bluray also has a spec to play burned bluray disks, but not all players are up to date with this update. For example early players have flsh updates to support burned bluray disks.

          So far the majority of my bluray customers have PS3s as their bluray player. And Ive had 100% sucess with my bluray burns from encore playing on PS3s.

          The AACS on mastered disks is a huge problem. But for low volume burned disks, the compatibility issues are not unlike the early DVD scene. Early DVDs were like witchcraft to get to work. It took 3 years really to get burned DVDs to a point where you could have confidence they would work on any player.

          Curt
          • 2. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
            Colin Brougham Level 6
            Check out this blog post from Dave Helmly regarding this issue. I'm not up to burning Bluray discs yet (most of my clients still think that DVD represents the pinnacle of technology and image quality!), but it really looks like this is a moving target at the present moment.

            With the upcoming DTV transition, I've been discussing with other video folks the possibility of distributing material (to stations, at least) on some form of flash media. It seems that more and more televisions are gaining various media ports and file playback capability, so it begs the question if distributing HD content to clients/consumers, at least for the near term, could be viably done using solid-state media. Economically, it would seem so... though ecologically, maybe it's not the friendliest solution :)
            • 3. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
              Jim_Simon Level 8
              >distributing HD content to clients/consumers, at least for the near term, could be viably done using solid-state media

              What would the average consumer use to play back the solid state media?
              • 4. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                Jeff Bellune Adobe Community Professional
                One of the reasons that Blu-ray is so far a financial disappointment to Sony and others is that upscaling SD DVD players that display the upscaled content on HDTVs have a picture quality that is close enough to Blu-ray that it discourages investment in the higher-cost BRD players and media.

                To that end, I recommend shooting your video in HD like you are, then using whatever combination of software tools suit your workflow to downrez the HD to SD for delivery on SD DVD.

                I just finished a personal project where I took 98 minutes of 1920x1080 24p footage and delivered it on SD DVD for playback on an upscaling Denon DVD-757 SD DVD player. The DVD was displayed on an LG LCD HDTV connected via HDMI to the Denon.

                The results were stunning. And I'm very picky.

                I'll post my workflow if anyone is interested.

                -Jeff
                • 5. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                  Curt Wrigley Level 4
                  Jeff; How big was the HDTV in your test? My read on the upscaling players is they start to show their flaws on larger sets (like 50" and up). But I do agree, at least on smaller sets the upscaling dvd players are helping to hold off adoption of bluray. That and the players price and disk prices.

                  Curt
                  • 6. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                    Jeff Bellune Adobe Community Professional
                    The LG set is 32 inches.

                    I'll try it on my 57" Mitsubishi and see how much the quality degrades.

                    -Jeff
                    • 7. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                      Jeff Bellune Adobe Community Professional
                      The quality on the 57-inch set is excellent. I'll reserve use of the word "stunning" for how it looks on the smaller set. "Excellent" means:

                      1.) That I had to look really, really hard to find any flaws at all. The only one that I could consistently find was a touch of softness that wasn't there on the 32-inch set.

                      2.) That I wouldn't bother with the expense and hassle of trying to author a Blu-ray disc that may or may not work on my BRD player.

                      (Hint: I have a Blu-ray burner, Encore CS4 and a blank BD-RE disc. The BD-RE disc is still in its shrink-wrap)
                      • 8. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                        Level 1
                        > I'll post my workflow if anyone is interested.

                        Jeff,

                        I would be very interested in seeing your workflow.

                        Thank you.

                        Ed B
                        • 9. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                          Curt Wrigley Level 4
                          That impressive Jeff.

                          But there are a couple things:

                          1. Now we need to tell customers to replace their DVD players with new upscaling players. I know they are cheaper than bluray and may have more benefit, but how many are really going to do that?

                          > 2.) That I wouldn't bother with the expense and hassle of trying to author a Blu-ray disc that may or may not work on my BRD player.

                          I actually find it much easier to author and burn a bluray disk from hd source than the hastle of properly downscaling hd to sd and then burning a dvd.

                          But; yes I too feel the pain of bluray. But I havnt given up. I think it is still the best delivery method for HD projects.

                          Curt
                          • 10. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                            Jeff Bellune Adobe Community Professional
                            Here is the workflow:

                            1. I imported the footage into an AVCHD 1920x1080 24p sequence in Pr CS4 and completed my edits. (Any 1920x1080 24p preset should work.) I did not render any preview files.

                            2. I exported from Pr as an elementary 100 Mbps MPEG2, I-frame only, 4:2:2 intermediate file. Pr wants to add 3:2 pulldown for 24p footage - don't let it do that. Total intermediate file size was about 68 GB for the video and .ac3 audio files, and it encoded in real time using the AME.

                            3. I set the MPEG2 intermediate file as the video source for Dan Isaac's hd2sd() script function for AviSynth. I use the multi-threaded (MT) version of AVS. I believe the default settings in Dan's script would have worked, but I explicitly set the parameters for interlaced input and output to false, the output frame rate to 24 and the output color space to RGB24.

                            4. I opened the .avs script in VirtualDub and exported as a Lagarith .avi file.

                            5. I encoded the Lagarith .avi as MPEG2 DVD in Sorenson Squeeze and then authored the Squeeze MPEG2 file in En CS4. I let En burn the disc.

                            AviSynth, Dan's hd2sd script, VirtualDub and the Lagarith codec are all free, open source apps.

                            Squeeze costs, but you can either use Pr to encode to 24p MPEG2 DVD or you can use the free, open-source MPEG encoder, HC Encoder .

                            If you use HC Encoder, you will have to adjust the color space from RGB24 to YV12, since HCEnc only understands YV12.

                            Encoding to I-frame MPEG2 in Pr happened in real time. Using MT AviSynth and 8 cores, the conversion from HD to SD occurred in real time. Each pass in Squeeze occurred in real time.

                            You can do the same thing using the new High Quality Render option in the Pr CS4 4.01 update, but the results aren't quite as good (yet still very nice) and it takes 5 times longer than the method I outlined above.

                            -Jeff
                            • 11. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                              Colin Brougham Level 6
                              Jeff,

                              I understand that you're rendering out to a Lagarith AVI, because Squeeze won't open up an AviSynth script... but is there any technical reason beyond that? I ask because I use TMPEGXpress for my MPEG-2 encoding, and it will take AVS files. If so, that would save on one space- and time-consuming render. Thoughts?
                              • 12. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                                Jeff Bellune Adobe Community Professional
                                >I too feel the pain of bluray. But I haven't given up. I think it is still the best delivery method for HD projects.

                                I will agree with you 100% if you change "I think it is still the best delivery method..." to "I think it will be the best delivery method".

                                As for the hassle of downrezzing the HD to SD: if some of the clients for a particular HD project don't have BRD players, you will have to do the hd2sd dance anyway. :)

                                (Conversely, if some of those clients have BRD players, then you have to do the compatibility dance as well.)

                                The fact that we have to go through any of this nonsense is about 90% Sony's fault and only about 10% the fault of early-adopting a new technology. Sony's intransigence on the AACS issue is making our post-production lives unnecessarily difficult. Anybody here still glad that Blu-ray won the war? I'm certainly not.
                                • 13. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                                  Curt Wrigley Level 4
                                  All non-arguable good practical points.
                                  • 14. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                                    Jeff Bellune Adobe Community Professional
                                    >I use TMPEGXpress for my MPEG-2 encoding, and it will take AVS files. If so, that would save on one space- and time-consuming render.

                                    Correct about the space savings. But since each frame has to be resized by AviSynth before it can be encoded by TMPGEnc, I would imagine the time would be about the same, and may even be worse using multi-pass encoding. I would be interested in real-world results.

                                    BTW, I think ProCoder also takes .avs scripts.

                                    -Jeff
                                    • 15. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                                      Colin Brougham Level 6
                                      >But since each frame has to be resized by AviSynth before it can be encoded by TMPGEnc, I would imagine the time would be about the same, and may even be worse using multi-pass encoding.

                                      Ah, good point. Well, I'm willing to give it a shot, once I'm set up. My copy of CS4 just arrived moments ago... it's going to be a long night :)
                                      • 16. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                                        Jim_Simon Level 8
                                        Wal-Mart is scheduled to have the Samsung BD-P1500 for less than $200 on Black Friday, for anyone interested.
                                        • 17. Re: EX1 Content Delivery, Blu-ray Compatibility Poor!
                                          Level 1
                                          >Wal-Mart is scheduled to have the Samsung BD-P1500 for less than $200 on Black Friday, for anyone interested.

                                          Bummer...I just purchased that one at Best Buy for 249.99.

                                          Oh well...at least I wont have to get up at 5:00 in the morning only to find out they had TWO in stock.