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Encoding to Blu ray from Final Cut Pro 6

By Heath McKnight

Are you working with Blu-ray on an Apple, perhaps with Toast (check out my review of version 9), or maybe you're using Adobe Encore CS4 for Mac (my review is coming soon), but you're editing high definition (HD) footage with Final Cut Pro 6.x.  How do you encode it to Blu-ray?

Encoding To Blu-ray With Compressor

It's very simple to encode to Blu-ray in Final Cut Pro 6.x by using Compressor 3.x.  Once you've finished your HD project, put an In and an Out point at the head and tail of your project.  (Tip: I recommend putting about 2-3 seconds of black off the top.)  Then, go to File, Export, Compressor, which will launch Compressor 3.x.


In Compressor, you'll see the Settings and Destinations window.  Under Settings, go to Apple, Formats, MPEG 2.  Now, you have two options to encode to Blu-ray: Elementary Stream or Program Stream.  I'll give details about each one.

Elementary stream

Elementary Stream offers 15 mbps compression; with Program Stream, it will create both MPEG-2 video and MPEG audio.  However, with both solutions, you will need to add audio, and both base the resolution and frame rate off of the original source.

Program stream

Whichever one you choose, drag the setting along with an audio option (go to Settings, Formats, Audio; Dolby 2.0 is what I prefer, but it's up to you).

Now, double-click on the video format you've chosen (either Elementary Stream or Program Stream) to open the Inspector, and select the second option, Encoder.  Change the Stream Usage to Blu-ray.  You must know what the frame size is, whether it's 1280 x 720, 1440 x 1080, or 1920 x 1080, and select the right option.  Choose your destination and drag it over to both the video and audio codecs/formats you've chosen, and hit submit.
Authoring and Burning Software and Hardware Options

You'll need Mac-compatible software to author a Blu-ray Disc (BD), such as Toast 10 from Roxio (www.roxio.com) or Adobe Encore CS4 for Mac (www.adobe.com).  I will be doing a complete workflow and review of Encore CS4 soon.  You'll also need a Blu-ray disc burner; there many to choose from, including those offered from Other World Computing, Primera (www.primera.com, read my review), or LaCie (www.lacie.com).

What About Final Cut Studio 3?

When Apple upgrades its Final Cut Studio suite of professional editing apps to version 3, we may finally see an update to DVD Studio Pro that will include Blu-ray authoring support.  However, with new Mac Pros announced in March 2009, I noticed a distinct lack of built-in Blu-ray burners. It was wishful thinking, but I'm a little worried about BD authoring tools in future iterations of Final Cut Studio. I hope this gives you an idea of encoding to Blu-ray with Final Cut Pro 6.x and Compressor 3.x.  I've experimented with both Elementary and Program Streams, and noticed very little difference between the two.

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

Related Keywords:Blu Ray encoding, final cut pro, video editing, NLE,


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