Many were eagerly awaiting an announcement for Blu-ray support at this year’s Mac World, but sadly, no announcement was made. Does this mean you can’t use the Mac to create Blu-ray disks? No it doesn’t! You CAN burn Blu-ray video disks on a Mac.
Just a note before you start, if you are attempting a Blu-Ray burn for the first time, make sure you use a BD-RE (re-writable) disk instead of a BD-R (write once) disk. As you read further, you’ll note that producing a Blu-ray disk on a Mac can be an exercise in extreme frustration. Using a BD-RE disk will allow you to “experiment” without making a bunch of expensive coasters with the write-once BD-R’s.
While Apple doesn’t officially support Blu-ray authoring (nor playback, for that matter) on their line of computers, users might still have an option, albeit, an expensive one. Adobe’s top of the line video editing software, Adobe Premiere CS3 comes bundled with their DVD creation software, Adobe Encore CS3. Premiere can capture, edit and output HD video (as either mpg or H.264), and Encore supports Blu-ray as an output option. So will it work? With a Sony BRU-100a Blu-ray burner pirated from my old Dell XPS Pentium 4, I set to task to find out. I captured about 2 hrs of HD video from my Sony HDR-HC3 HDV camcorder. This was captured with Premiere, and as of this writing, it’s now outputting the video as an H.264 encoded MP4 file. My Mac Pro Dual Quad 3.2ghz Penryn monster has been crunching away for almost 4 hours encoding 2.5 hours of HD video, and it’s only a little more than halfway done on the first of two passes.
These screen shots just goes to show you that there is no such thing as too much computer. I always say, buy the best computer you can afford when you decide to buy one. Once the video is encoded, I’ll import it into Encore, make a quick menus, and do a test burn.
Update: Jan 26, 2008…Well, I managed to burn a Blu-ray disk on the Mac, but what a friggin’ nightmare. Adobe has produced some of the buggiest software I have seen with the introduction of the Creative Suite 3 (CS3) line of products for the Mac. The products installed fine, but the trouble began when I attempted to use them, specifically, Adobe Premiere (video editing) and Encore (DVD/Blu-ray burning). I captured video from my HDV camcorder into Premiere. After some basic editing, I output the video to the H.264 format which produced a separate .m4v file (video) and .wav file (audio). When I imported the two files into Encore, the video and audio files were about 8 seconds different in length. This resulted in the audio that would get more and more out of sync with the video. Had to try something else.
I made another attempt, this time I exported the video again, but this time in mpg format. When I imported into Encore, the video and audio were in sync. In Encore, I had the option to output to to Blu-ray using again, the H.264 format. So I selected this option. I made up some simple DVD menus and went about burning the disk. I used a Sony rewriteable BD-RE disk. Upon attempting to build the disk, Encore would simply hang, or crash, over and over again. I attempted to update the Adobe software with the built in Update feature, but when the updates attempted to install, the update would hang, or crash, and whatever Adobe application was being updated, would be rendered unusable after the update, forcing a reinstall. After repeated, failed, attempts at updating the software, I gave up. Some apps were updated, some weren’t. Fortunately, Encore and Premiere were successfully updated. Time to try a burn again.
Success! Sort of…The Blu-ray DVD burned successfully, but playing it back on my Sony PS3, the video was not smooth at all. It had this stroboscopic effect to it, where objects moving rapidly across the screen left a blurry trail behind them, and the video looked grainy and choppy. This is about as far as I got. I have a feeling I need to play around with the encoding options and wotnot. That’s all I have at this point. Need to do some research. Stay tuned…
Update: Feb 1, 2008…
Well, I made a few more attempts at creating a watchable Blu-ray disk. It took 4 tries, but I now have a good looking Blu-ray video disk. Here’s the summary of my experiences to this point:
Update: Feb 4, 2008…
This is a screen shot of the OSX Activity Monitor taken during encoding in Premiere (click for larger image). Well, there you have it. Steve Jobs may be holding out on us with Blu-ray support on the Mac, maybe indefinitely, but there is hope. If you’ve got the cash, patience, and one rewriteable Blu-ray disk, you too can be watching your home video in hi-def. Good luck!
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