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Fixing Adobe Encore project corruption

This past weekend I used Adobe Encore for the first time to create a Blu-ray for an important screening. I'd previously tested the workflow and everything had worked well, but this was my first time using it on a project.

I initially had some issues encoding the Premiere Pro sequence to H.264 because Adobe Media Encoder told me it would take 42 hours, and after leaving it for a few hours it seemed to be making good on that promise. I eventually narrowed the problem down to a corrupt Dynamic Link cache which I trashed with CS Repair and got the more respectable prediction of 10 hours (it was a 90 minute feature with 10-bit RGB source files).

I then used Compressor to create a 5.1 AC3 file and brought both into Encore. I created the menus and timelines and then used the Preview function to check it. It went well until about three quarters of the way through the movie one of the character's lines started repeating over and over and over again for about ten minutes.

I checked the original source files and they were fine. I checked the AC3 and it was fine. I restarted Encore and the problem was still there. I cleared the media cache from within the preferences menu; no change. I thought it might just be the preview but the problem existed on a test disc that I burned.

I eventually traced it to project corruption. There is a file in your project directory called ProjectMedia.acx. This is what the end of the file looked like:

The file should end with the closing XML tag </EncoreProject> (and there should only be one) but extra data has been added at the end. To fix this, close Encore, open up the file in TextEdit and delete everything beyond the first </EncoreProject> tag.

Then trash your media cache. For some reason the button in preferences doesn't remove everything so I'd recommend removing all files from the media cache directories at ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Common or by using Housekeeper.

I relaunched Encore, everything worked properly and I was able to create the disc and breathe a sigh of relief. I would definitely recommend keeping an eye on ProjectMedia.acx though because I just checked it again and more corruption has crept in.

Posted by Jon Chappell on Oct 25 2012 to Adobe, Tutorials, DVD

Sign the DVD Studio Pro Blu-ray petition

AppleInsider recently had an article listing the version numbers of the applications in Final Cut Studio 3.

Although it's just a series of numbers, it is a useful indicator of just how much the applications have been updated. The most notable numbers are Color 1.5, Compressor 3.5 - indicating relatively minor changes - and DVD Studio Pro 4.2.2 - indicating virtually no changes at all.

So for those of you hoping for a major DVD Studio Pro update that supports Blu-ray burning, it looks like you're going to be disappointed once again.

There is now a petition circulating that asks Apple to reconsider its policy.

"We, the undersigned, will not buy a new version of Final Cut Studio if it is still lacking Blu-ray support."

Be sure to add your signature if you agree.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Jun 5 2009 to DVD, Apple, Final Cut Studio

Blu-ray license simplification coming mid-2009

ZDnet is reporting that many of the problems preventing Blu-ray from coming to the Mac should ease in mid-2009 when new licensing comes into place.

A new licence will be established by mid-2009 as a "one-stop shop" for device makers. The licence will include all necessary Blu-ray, DVD and CD patents for selling Blu-ray players. The licensing programme will be handled by a new licensing company to be led by Gerald Rosenthal, former head of intellectual property at IBM. It will be based in the US, but will have local branches in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Instead of having to approach Blu-ray, DVD and CD holders individually and paying them separate royalties, the single licence should cut down the total cost of royalty payments by 40 percent, according to Sony.

The fees for the new licences will be $9.50 for a Blu-ray player and $14 for a Blu-ray recorder. Making Blu-ray Disc will cost 11 cents for read-only, 12 cents for recordable discs and 15 cents for rewritable discs.

Hopefully this new license coupled with new DisplayPort Mac Pros will encourage Apple to consider Blu-ray drives as an option for its high-end systems.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 27 2009 to Hardware, DVD, Industry

Why does my DVD audio level differ from the level in FCP?

Have you noticed a discrepancy between the audio in your Final Cut Pro timeline and the audio of the finished DVD when using Compressor's DVD presets?

That's because the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio preset in Compressor has several functions to improve unsuitable audio, but if you have already mixed your audio they might do more harm than good in some cases. Rather than just telling you which settings to use, I'm first going to explain what these functions are designed to do because there are a lot of misconceptions about them.

Compression alters your dynamic range (the difference between the loudest and quietest sounds in a soundtrack) by compressing the level of sounds to fit within a certain range. The loudest sound in a Dolby soundtrack can be 105dB. Considering the fact that prolonged exposure to 90 dB audio can result in hearing loss, most people do not play their audio at 105dB. When you set up a Dolby decoder with a reference tone, you are telling it the volume level it should play 105dB audio at. So if this is lower than 105dB (which is likely), you will lose some of the very quiet sounds on the soundtrack. The compression presets allow you to regain these sounds by sacrificing some dynamic range in the process.

It is set to Film Standard by default but if you have already performed a mix with a moderate dynamic range, further compression is not likely to be necessary and so it is worthwhile to switch this to None.

Dialog normalization is a feature on several Dolby decoders that ensures all content plays back at the same level. The listener sets their preferred playback level and the dialogue in every DVD and TV show plays back at the same level, meaning you don't need to keep reaching for the remote in order to adjust the volume. Contrary to popular belief, it only adjusts the overall volume level when the source changes (i.e. when you begin playing the DVD or when a new TV program begins) so dynamic range is preserved throughout the movie. It does not dynamically adjust the volume as the movie is playing.

The normalization value indicates the difference between the overall level of dialog and the maximum audio peak of 0 dBFS. The default is set to -27 dBFS, which is the established level for film soundtracks. It is also the level most decoders are set to by default. If you have your decoder set to -27 dBFS and then, for example, try to play a -25 dBFS movie, the decoder will lower the overall volume by 2 dBFS so that the general dialogue level remains the same. If you do want to switch it off when compressing your audio files (if you've already leveled your sound mix for example), set it to -31 dbFS.

So if you would like your audio to be exactly how it was in Final Cut Pro, set Dialog Normalization to -31 dBFS and set Compression in the Pre-Processing tab to None. However, these functions do serve useful purposes for the end user and it is worthwhile to bear their needs in mind.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 1 2009 to Final Cut Studio, DVD, Video Editing

Blu-ray is a "bag of hurt" says Steve Jobs

This was something I missed on Tuesday as I didn't see the actual keynote address, only what Apple posted on their web site.

According to Engadget, Steve Jobs is blaming licensing issues for the current lack of Blu-ray on the Mac.

"Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt. It's great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we're waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace."

It's good to finally hear something from Apple on this subject. I guess, much like when Apple introduced DVD burners, they are waiting for larger consumer adoption and significant falls in the price of media before committing. Unfortunately that's not so helpful for Pro App users.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Oct 16 2008 to Apple, Hardware, DVD

Third party Mac Pro Blu-ray drives

MCE Technologies has announced the availability of an internal 6x Blu-ray drive for the Mac Pro that seamlessly fits into one of the existing bays inside the machine.

The drive alone is $499 but there is also a version bundled with Roxio Toast 9 for $599. An external version is available for $749. It requires OS X 10.5.2 or higher but no device drivers are needed.

Currently the only Mac applications capable of burning Blu-ray movies are Roxio Toast 9 and Adobe Encore CS3, however there are quite a few more available for Windows if you have a Boot Camp partition available.

[via TUAW]
Posted by Jon Chappell on Jul 2 2008 to Apple, Hardware, DVD

Toshiba to drop HD DVD

BBC News is reporting that shares of Toshiba have risen over speculation that it will scrap the HD DVD format. Toshiba was one of the pioneers of the format and has stood by it even after it was eclipsed by Blu-ray.

The article states that Toshiba is "reviewing its business strategies" but no decision has been made about HD DVD's future yet. This reflects a change in Toshiba's attitudes as it used to answer a firm "yes, the format will continue" when asked.

I hope Toshiba kills it sooner rather than later, as not only are they hurting themselves and the industry, but they are prolonging the inevitable. I think the major complaint about Blu-ray - price - will become a non-factor in the future as the industry can now focus its resources on one format to bring down prices, instead of splitting them between two. Also, technological improvements over time and increased demand will lower production costs and bring down prices as well.

Some people are wondering if it will all be in vain, as the download industry is just starting to take off. That remains to be seen but I don't think they are ready to directly compete with discs yet though.

Update 2/19/08: It's official. Toshiba has now suspended production of HD DVD players and recorders but will continue to clear out its inventory until March. This is a lot earlier than I had originally expected, so well done Toshiba for not drawing it out.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 18 2008 to Analysis, DVD, Industry

How to restore the DVD Studio Pro welcome screen

I saw this thread on Apple's discussion forum in which a user was asking how to get back DVD Studio Pro's welcome screen once you deselect "Show at startup". Unlike Motion, DVD Studio Pro has no option in its menu to restore it once again.

Here's how to do it:
1. Make sure DVD Studio Pro is closed.

2. Navigate to ~/Library/Preferences (~ refers to your user directory).

3. Double-click on com.dvdstudiopro.plist to open it in Property List Editor.

4. Click the arrow next to "Root" to expand the options and then click New Sibling at the top.

5. Type showFirstLaunchDialog exactly as shown here.

6. Set Class to Number.

7. Set Value to 2.

8. Click File > Save.

9. Fire up DVD Studio Pro and enjoy your restored welcome screen.

Hope this helps other people who were having this issue.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 13 2008 to Apple, DVD, Final Cut Studio

More troubles for HD DVD

AppleInsider reports that the ailing HD DVD format has suffered two more blows.

Best Buy has stated it will promote Blu-ray over HD DVD in its stores. Blu-ray discs and players will have more prominent placing and staff will be instructed to recommend Blu-ray over HD DVD.

Netflix stated that, to ease consumer confusion, it will not be adding new HD DVD formats to its catalog and will gradually phase out the existing ones.

When you consider how much of a share Netflix has over the home rental market and how much Best Buy has over the retail DVD market, this is a massive blow for HD DVD. It is also a psychological blow because consumers can sense that the ship is sinking and no price cuts from Toshiba will change this. Even if they gave away HD DVD players for free, I don't think they could make a comeback.

Apple, despite being on the Blu-ray board, has remained incredibly quiet over the whole issue. I think the whole issue lies with burning Blu-ray discs. From what I have read, standard DVD and Blu-ray are so different that DVD Studio Pro will require a rewrite in order to support Blu-ray. I am guessing the same applies to iDVD and the Finder's built-in disc burning capabilities.

I would imagine this is the primary reason why Apple does not offer a Blu-ray drive option in their lineup. Maybe they were waiting for a clear winner to emerge before putting resources into updating their software packages. It would be very expensive to write code for a losing format. Price may also be a factor, considering the ~$1000 price tag of Sony's burners and the $10-25 price per disc.

Everyone predicts a Blu-ray burner from Apple every year and it never arrives but this year is different because we now have a clear winner. Everyone is so glad that a winner is emerging that they are putting all of their resources behind it to spur it on, leaving no doubt in my mind that HD DVD will eventually die. When that occurs is up to Toshiba. If I was managing Toshiba, I'd stop production, sell off the remaining inventory and count my losses. Persevering in the face of obvious defeat will only damage them in the long run.

I think we could see Blu-ray drives in Mac Pros by the end of the year (probably as a BTO option).
Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 12 2008 to Analysis, Apple, DVD

Sonic drops HD DVD Scenarist support

Video Business is announcing that Sonic Solutions has discontinued support for its HD DVD Scenarist authoring software. This is important because Scenarist is a popular product that is used professionally for disc authoring.

Sonic claims it wants to focus on Blu-ray and add extra functionality to the Blu-ray edition of Scenarist, rather than splitting its time and resources between two formats. Customers of the HD DVD version can exchange it for the Blu-ray edition.

As Toshiba seems unwilling to kill off HD DVD, many companies have chosen to pounce on it now that a possible winner has emerged. I think this is good for the industry, and the sooner Toshiba realizes this, the better.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 31 2008 to DVD, Industry, Software