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Am I Still Blue

May 18, 2011 - Dave Hecei
There is still something missing in the Apple world. It’s small, round, and blue. Well, not actually blue, but the name is. Of course I am, again, talking about Blu-Ray. And as of yet, Apple and the Mac know nothing about it.

While the PC industry has not fully embraced Blu-Ray, it is a viable option on many systems. I have an HP entertainment laptop that has a Blu-Ray player/DVD burner drive. I have purchase a Blu-Ray player drive for my Dell tower (yes I do own and use PC computers – but I still love my Macs). I have yet to buy a Blu-Ray burner drive. But that will change here soon.

I will admit that I have been sitting on the fence with this one. I now own a large and small HD television and a Blu-Ray set-top player. I am starting to create a special Blu-Ray library where I am buying certain new releases in Blu-Ray, but not everything. The reason is simple. My DVD library looks great on my HDTV, when played on the Blu-Ray player. It upscales the Standard Definition DVD movies and they look great. I’m sure they don’t look as good as the Blu-Ray version, but they look good enough for me. At least good enough to not want to repurchase hundreds of movies I already own. Some DVDs I have are of older television shows, which where not shot in HD in the first place.

So getting back to the Blu-Ray burner. I was shopping for blank media today and have found that the dual-layer DVDs, which hold about 8.5GB of data, are priced about the same as the single layer Blu-Ray media, which holds about 25GB of data. Prices vary, but they are both around a dollar a disc, when bought in quantity. At that price, why not go with Blu-Ray and get 3x the storage.

Using Blu-Ray media for storage is not really a problem on the Mac. The main problem is that Apple has not adopted the Blu-Ray movie format. You can edit your HD camcorder video clips on a Mac, but how do put them on a disc that you can throw into a Blu-Ray player and watch on a big screen TV?

Well, it seems that you can sort of create a Blu-Ray disc in Final Cut Studio. No, you don’t use the amazing DVD Studio Pro, a logical choice, but you use Compressor. You use Final Cut Pro to edit your movie, then output the timeline to a QuickTime file. Then import the file in Compressor, and from there you can create a basic Blu-Ray movie disc. The problem is that FCS is about $1000.

There is a less expensive way to create your HD movie and it’s called Toast. If you are dealing with home movies or more basic level productions like training films, Toast can handle your Blu-Ray authoring needs. Using Toast should produce discs that can be played in most modern Blu-Ray players and compatible computers. The only negative is that Toast is somewhat limited in menu creation. It’s more the cookie cutter type program. This means that you cannot do much customizing of your menus and create more sophisticated interactivity, something that needs a much more powerful piece of software, and of course more money.

The last solution is probably the best, but it is definitely the most expensive. While Final Cut Studio is not a cheap program, Adobe makes it look like a bargain. Creative Suite CS5 Production Premium is a collection of Adobe programs that includes: Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop Extended, Flash Catalyst, Flash Professional, Illustrator, OnLocation, Device Control, Bridge, Media Encoder, and most importantly, Encore. This behemoth of a package, one of the best collections of creative tools on the market, is priced at a whopping $1700. Ouch. But in this suite you can edit, convert, add special effects, special titles, cut menus, and then custom author it all in Encore, Adobe’s disc authoring program.

If you want to use Blu-Ray now, then I can say that it is doable on a Mac. If you need the extra backup or archival size that Blu-Ray offers, then get an external Blu-Ray burner and make sure your get a copy of Roxio Toast. If you want to create your own Blu-Ray movie discs and you don’t need to make cool menus and other interactivity on the disc, then Toast again seems to be the answer. If you are a video professional and want to create professional Blu-Ray media, then you should be able to afford the cost of Adobe’s Production Suite, if you don’t already have it. The only thing you can’t do is watch a Blu-Ray movie on a Mac – there is no Blu-Ray player program yet. Until Apple decides to adopt Blu-Ray and include all the tools necessary, like Blu-Ray burning in iDVD, these other solutions will do.


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