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Editing and Blu-ray Burning

Originally posted October 7th, 2008, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Continuing our "pilgrimage" through consumer HD video "land," we are following up our article on shooting and capturing with one on editing the footage and burning a Blu-ray movie disc. As you may know from our previous article, we chose the Sony HDR-CX12 HandyCam for shooting our consumer HD video.

For us, the easiest way to view the unedited HD footage was to remove the memory stick from the Sony HD HandyCam and insert it in the compatible memory slot of our Sony Playstation 3. Because it's connected to a 1080p LCD flat panel display, we were able to view it in the native 1080i AVCHD format. Of course, you can always preview it using the HandyCam's small screen or by connecting the HandyCam's HDMI port directly to the HDMI port of any HD display.

BTW, officially, Apple says you must have a Intel based Mac to capture AVCHD, but if you own a G5 Mac, you can use VoltaicHD from Shedworx to import AVCHD footage.

There are various options for editing the footage including iMovie, Final Cut Express, and Final Cut Pro. Whatever method you choose, you'll need Roxio Toast 9 Titanium to burn the Blu-ray movie disc. (You can use Adobe Encore to author and burn Blu-ray movie discs but to obtain it requires you to buy Adobe Premiere $$$.)

If you don't have much editing to do, there are some crude editing features within Toast -- like setting "in" and "out" points of each clip. Once the playlist of clips are ready to encode into Blu-ray, you can use Toast's templates to create a user interface.

We chose to edit in Final Cut Pro (FCP). You may recall from PART ONE that we were able to import "raw" AVCHD (H.264 1920x1080) files into FCP using the "Log and Transfer" function. Once the editing process was complete, we exported our two sequences totalling 24.5 minutes as Apple ProRes 422 1920x1080. That took 21 minutes.

(Screen Dump of Toast 9 Titanium Blu-ray Authoring Menu)

As indicated above, if you are going to burn a Blu-ray movie disc, you'll need Toast 9 Titanium (or Adobe Encore) for authoring and burning the Blu-ray movie disc, regardless of what editing tool you use. We launched Toast, selected Blu-ray Movie tab, and dragged our two edited ProRes 422 sequences into the window, selected our user interface template, tweaked the preferences, and began the encoding/burning function.

We had previously installed the MCE 6X Blu-ray Recordable Drive in the top optical bay of our Mac Pro. (The original SuperDrive was moved to the bottom optical bay.) Toast 9 Titanium lets you select the drive optical drive you plan to use for the burn.

The process of encoding and burning our two sequences (24.5 min total) onto a Blu-ray movie disc took 2.5 hours. Thankfully Toast uses up to 6 cores for encoding on our Mac Pro or it would have taken even longer.

Our only bone to pick with Toast 9 Titanium was that when we loaded the results Blu-ray movie disc in our Blu-ray player (PS3), the user interface was of very low visual quality even though the movies themselves were HD quality. If and when Apple commits to supporting Blu-ray in iDVD and DVD Studio Pro, I'm confident the user interface quality will go up dramatically.

I only know three people with Blu-ray burners and players: Me, Myself, and I. Before I can get excited about distributing my homemade HD movies to friends and family, I'll have to wait until they all buy Blu-ray players. That's not going to happen until the prices on players drop to $99 or they all get Sony Playstation 3s.

It would be nice if Apple made Blu-ray players and/or burners a Configure-To-Order option on Macs. After all, the MCE Blu-ray burner also supports 16X DVD burning and 40X CD-R burning. Sony includes a slot load Blu-ray player for the Playstation 3 that would go well with the new MacBook Pro as a CTO option.

It would also be nice if Apple put the code in iDVD and DVD Studio Pro that allows you to burn Blu-ray movie discs.

Apple Online Store

You can buy the Sony HDR-CX12 and similar HD HandyCams from your local Sony Dealer or from their Sony Style website ($100 off promotion currently in effect). Or order from Amazon ($100 off). Sony also sells the memory sticks and the USB 2.0 memory stick reader. (Ask the dealer about the discount on an additional memory stick when you purchase the HandyCam.)

iMovie 7 comes with iLife 08 on every Mac currently shipping.
Officially, Apple says you must have a Intel based Mac to capture AVCHD, but if you own a G5 Mac, you can use VoltaicHD from Shedworx to import AVCHD footage. If you prefer Final Cut Express or Final Cut Pro, those can be purchased from your local Apple Retail Store or from the Apple Online Store. Ditto for Amazon.

You can order
Toast 9 Titanium direct from Roxio or from Amazon. It not only authors and burns Blu-ray movies but it has a few editing features. Adobe Encore CS3 is bundled with Adobe Premiere CS3 and is available direct from Adobe or from Amazon.

6X Blu-ray Recordable Drive that installs in the spare optical bay of the Mac Pro or G5 Power Mac can be purchased direct from MCE. Other World Computing has an external 4X Blu-ray burner that runs off eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400 or USB 2.0 ports. LaCie has an external 4X Blu-ray burner that runs off the FireWire 400 or USB 2.0 ports.

If you need an 8-core Mac Pro to convert AVCHD files to iMovie or Final Cut Express compatible format, I know where you can find one.

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2008 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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