As a long time Adobe Production Studio user (since CS2), Encore was always my go to tool for DVD authoring. Unfortunately, Adobe has dropped Encore, so now I am hunting for a replacement. These are the ones I have looked into so far:
1. Sony DVD Architect ($199)
2. TMPGEnc Authoring Works 5 ($99)
3. DVD Labs Blue Disc Studio ($275)
I have some strict requirements which is why I have been hunting for so long. For example,
1. Support for x264 blu-ray compliant encodes. I don't want the authoring tool to transcode my assets. I do all that myself using x264. BD Studio seems to not support .264 files.
2. Support for high bit rates. I am not certain if it was due to crippling but the DVDA trial complained about anything higher than 28 Mbps.
3. Strong menu creation support. I am not looking for BD-J support per se, but TAW 5 seems to do everything bass ackwards making it less than ideal. DVDA has some strange quirks as well.
So, in case you can't tell. I don't want to chuck $99 down the drain and feel hamstrung. But I don't want to necessarily spend $275 if $199 will do, or worse, won't even accept .264 encodes. The problem is, I am getting a little worn out downloading all these different tools and trying to get a sense if they can do what I need from the trial/crippled version. Also, I am not really interested in freeware.
Any thoughts? Thanks.
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DVDA has problems with MBAFF - so scratch that off the list unless are your discs are progressive, or are willing to use another encoder for the PAFF encodes
If you're using Adobe CC, Encore CS6 is available to you. You have to log into your Adobe account and download Premiere CS6, install it, and then uninstall the components you don't want. Encore is one of the components.
All my videos are progressive, and even if I happen upon the rare interlaced video, I would probably just de-interlace it. I hate interlaced video that much. So I don't think that the lack of MBAFF support in DVDA should be a problem, unless x264 sneaks that into blu-ray compliant progressive encodes. I am going to admit that I have very little understanding of the magic elixir that x264 uses to make progressive video compliant. FWIW, I conform all my HD video to 1280x720p59.94 to ensure maximum compatibility.
I don't have Adobe CC and don't ever plan on getting it. Sorry Adobe, SaaS just doesn't interest me.
Does anyone know if BD Studio accepts 264 elementary streams? The website says just .m2v, .vc1, and .avc which seems surprisingly limited for what seems like a great tool from looking at the posted demos.
They should both be elementary streams per their nomenclature.
Bummer, the BD Studio version for only $275 does not include a muxer which requires you to export the file to Scenarist BD. If you want BD Studio to mux the files for BD creation you need to upgrade to the Blu-Disc Studio MX for $500. But that doesn't make any sense. Why would you want a separate menu builder if you already have Scenarist?
Good to know. I was getting a strong sense from the trial I downloaded and played briefly with that something was missing. But it is hard to get an accurate evaluation because trials tend to be crippled but aren't well documented. Sounds like BDS is a pass because BD-J support is not really what I am looking for.
I finally finished my first Bluray project, and just in time for Christmas! Hooray! Some thoughts:
TAW5: I couldn't customize TAW5's wizard-driven menus to my liking. I managed to author one clumsy BD, but my plan was to go back and try again after touring the other programs. No such luck. The trial period expired while I was busy with the others. I may try to get another trial, but to be honest, I don't really like wizard-driven programs even though the price is nice. Also, the fact that TAW5 doesn't write out an ISO was really annoying.
BD Studio: I didn't dig very deep into this program. Apparently, and this is where I am still learning, the program is mainly a tool for BD-J creation for non-Java programmers. As mentioned kindly by CDK above, Scenarist does not have an interface that allows BD-J creation, rather it simply expects you to drop ready-to-go Java code into the project. I have no doubts this could be very powerful. The demo menus on BD Studio's website, especially the Game of Thrones example, are simply gorgeous. This is where BD Studio comes in.
DVDA: Many thanks to the Sony guys to giving me a long enough trial to finish my project. Overall, I am pleased. Here is what I was able to do:
Menu: Intro video+audio with a Loop point with keyframed menu elements that fly in just before the Loop point.
Menu elements link to the following playlists:
- Play All: Group A + Group B + Group C + Credits Roll
- Group A + Credits Roll
- Group B + Credits Roll
- Group C
- Extra Content
Group A, B, and C were actually a single Media file with different In/Out points. This was one of the key "hidden" features within DVDA that allowed me to build custom playlists by loading in the same media file multiple times. When DVDA builds the BD, it only writes out the media file once to the disc.
Building the BD in DVDA is a trivial exercise really that only takes a few minutes. Plop your video/audio in the menu. Import your assets and build your playlists or whatever. Create the menu links and make sure everything is working. Simple, even though there was a ton of thrashing around on my part. However, now that I know what to avoid, the heavy lifting unquestionably occurs in building the assets for DVDA. For example, I built a heavily composited menu in AE. My Extra Content was a Photo Album that I eventually brought into PPro to create a custom Ken Burns movie. Also, encoding all the input files took something on the order of a week from writing out the lossless Lagarith's to the x264 encodes that took multiple attempts. Each part of the project entailed numerous tweaks and adjustments and re-do's. Even building the BD case sleeve took an evening.
What have a learned? First, authoring a BD demands a level of planning, creativity, attention to detail, and above all, time that nothing else really requires except for a DVD. Second, I have really only scratched the surface of what is possible.
I haven't decided what my next step is. I really want to dig deeper into the BD-J examples on the BD Studio website. Anyway, that is all for now.
Not sure if you are aware or not but I found out the hard way that TAWS won't allow another trial on the same computer/laptop. If you want another trial you have to download on another laptop or computer. It really sucks!
TAW5 did not impress me. But I was willing to give them another shot just in case there was something I couldn't figure out on my first attempt. I suppose I could always contact them directly and explain. Otherwise, their loss.