Rethinking Blu-ray Authoring

Blu-ray Authouring Station At Ryerson University In Toronto

Blu-ray Authoring Station At Ryerson University In Toronto

Ok, so Blu-ray is not new…. And a variety of programs can now create Blu-ray media…. I know, I know…. I discovered this when I recently had to work myself through the process of shooting at 24p on a Canon HV-20 with the idea of outputting it in 24p using a PlayStation 3. It got complicated on my Apple system. I first had to used Apple’s Compressor to transcode the 24p frames out of the HDV bitsetream, edit it using in Final Cut Pro, run it through Compressor again to create an H.264 stream and and finally write the 24p h.264 stream back to Blu-ray. Yuck!

I found it was much easier using Pinnacle’s Studio 12 (which saw the 24 p stream immediately) and after editing my material it appeared to write it back to Blu-ray as a 24 frame file. Well at least that’s what the Playstation 3 told me.

With that bevy of experience behind me a research project crossed my desk this month that required a Windows desktop system. Windows was required because the Blu-ray authoring software that was being used included a BD Live authoring component. The project gave me the chance to re-invent a Blu-ray authoring workstation from scratch so I thought what I’d do in this blog post and outline what we ended up doing here at Ryerson.

Hardware Goodies

Tiger Directs Bareboneasaurus

Tiger Direct's Bareboneasaurus

One thing I had learned from both Apple’s Compressor and Studio 12 software was that the rendering process was the slowest part of the process, so a good processor is a key element. Since the research included some BD Live authoring (a relatively new programming discipline I guessed) I felt it was best to stay on Intel’s processors for this project so there would be no second guessing around the hardware as this new “black art” was being learned.

In the end it was TigerDirect’s Bareboneasaurus promotion that caught my eye as the base technology for this project. We have people here on staff who love to build computers and when I spotted the 4 core Intel and 12 gigs of DDR 3 memory this had to be the Unit. Not only would the multicore processor decrease rendering time, but the amount of RAM associated with the Bareboneasaurus would be handy in the future for other development activities. The kit (in Tiger Direct speak) consisted of ASUS P6T Intel Socket LGA1366 Barebone Kit – Intel Core i7 920, 12GB Corsair DDR3-1333, 1TB SATA2, Clear Side ATX Mid-Tower, 650W. The price you see above is in Canadian dollars.

For a video card –again in Tiger Direct speak– we chose a XFX GeForce 9800 GTX + Video Card – 512MB DDR3, PCI Express 2.0, SLI Ready, (Dual Link) Dual DVI, HDTV, VGA Support.

For our first monitor we chose a Sceptre X23WG-1080p 23in Wide 8ms DVI LCD Monitor. Although its use would be primarily a VGA monitor, it’s 1080p capability meant it could also double as a 1080 display when checking HD Blu-ray material.

We had an internal LG 6X Super-Multi Blu Ray Writer (Model : GGW-H20L) mounted in a 5.25in Silver eSATA USB 2.0 to SATA Optical Drive Enclosure. The portable unit had found a lot of use in the department writing one off Blu-ray media for display so I ordered a  GGW-H20L specific for the workstation. It’s still not delivered, so they must be hard to come by and that’s why you see the external Blu-ray writer installed as part of the workstation below.

TigerDirect's Bareboneasaurus (Assembled), GGW-H20L) mounted in a Optical Drive Enclosure and a a Sceptre X23WG-1080p

To view Blu-ray media in 1080p and to act as a second production model we the second monitor a Sharp Aquos 32″ 1080p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV (model LC32D64U). We also chose a PlayStation 3 80GB as the Blu-ray player. The project needed an Internet connected Blu-ray player and we thought since SONY updates the software on its PlayStation’s we would be somewhat assured the hardware would work should BD Live firmware or software receive updates.

Sharp Aquos 32″ 1080p Flat-Panel, PlayStation 3 80GB Blu-ray player

Other additional items we obtained were four premium Blu-ray movie titles that BD Live content.

Blu-ray titles with BD Live Content

Blu-ray Titles with BD Live Content

One nice item we got with the PlayStation was the PlayStation Blu-ray remote control. After several botched attempts trying to access Blu-ray disks via the PlayStation 3 game controller the remote control actually  streamlines access to the disc features. In a way its funny that Bluetooth was chosen for PlayStation 3 but unlike standard infrared remotes, it can be used without having to point directly at the PlayStation system.

SONYs Bluetooth Remote Makes the BD Live Content Work

SONY's Bluetooth Remote Makes the BD Live Content Work

No Blu-ray blues with the hardware in this installation…..