AVCHD and Blu-ray Discs – a Testimony

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the May, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


Sourabh Chakraborty asks:

I am a huge fan of your newsletters. I see you mention in quite a few newsletters burning an AVCHD disc (on a standard DVD) using FCP 7 that will give greater quality than a SD DVD. Could you please go over the process?

Larry replies: Here’s the short answer..

An AVCHD disc is a standard DVD with Blu-ray formatted media on it. You can create this in Final Cut Pro 7 (using File > Share and picking Blu-ray Disc) or Compressor 3.5.

In all cases, you take HD media, compress it into the Blu-ray format, then burn it to a standard DVD using the DVD burner inside your Mac.

The benefit to this is that you can use standard DVD media and burn it on your Mac. The disadvantage is that a standard DVD only holds 20-30 minutes of material, using a slightly lower data rate than typical Blu-ray Discs, which means the quality is better than standard DVDs, but not quite as good as a Blu-ray DVD.

For more information, look up Blu-ray in the Final Cut Pro on-line manual, or read the next article.

[ Go to Top. ]


David Scott writes:

Larry, I don’t know if any of your other newsletter readers are Blu-Ray newbies like me but I’ve successfully used a Mac to burn Blu-Ray files onto both Blu-Ray media and standard DVDs. The resulting images – even when blown up on a good, High Def projector onto a 69×110 screen are – may I be presumptuous? – fabulous! All was done on a Mac via Toast Titanium Pro (with Blu-Ray plug-in), an external LaCie D2 Professional 8x Blu-Ray burner and the Mac’s own Superdrive. Incredibly, it was easy and I experienced no “gotchas.” Here are two examples.


In the first, I had a 93 Gig ProRes .mov file that I simply dragged onto Toast Titanium Pro’s Blu-Ray work window. I selected “Automatic” under Encoding and “Best” as the Video Quality option. After loading a 25 Gig-capacity Maxell Blu-Ray disk, I then clicked on the red “burn” button and after a reasonable amount of time (between one and two hours, I think) I had a perfect, high def Blu-Ray disk that, so far, as played in every Blu-Ray player I’ve tried. It looks superb on a 67-inch DLP TV as well as a high-quality NEC, ceiling-mounted projection system on a 130-inch diagonal screen. The enlarged Blu-Ray version is indistinguishable from the 93 Gig file played via QuickTime Pro at best resolution from a laptop.

A visual inspection of the Blu-Ray disk suggests only about half was burned. Had I selected Toast’s “Custom” option, I could have chosen a higher bit rate and – perhaps – even better quality. However, it’s hard for me to imagine a visible improvement.


In this instance, I prepared a nine-minute program in Final Cut. I then selected “Share” under the File menu. In the drop-down menu next to the blue icon, I chose “Blu-ray,” checked “Create Blu-ray Disc, selected my Mac’s Superdrive under “Output Device (will include AVCHD designation) then “Export.” I was prompted to insert a disk (used an ordinary blank DVD, not a Blu-Ray one) into my Mac’s Superdrive and my disk was burned. The disk plays spectacularly in a Blu-Ray player but it contains a “BDMV” folder containing the Blu-Ray encoded version of my program that easily is burned onto additional, ordinary, standard DVDs. Again, the result was (to my eyes) pristine. Better yet, I am able to mass produce these with a Primera Bravo SE DVD duplicator – again, onto ordinary DVD media.

Heretofore I’ve been a driven fanatic when it comes to image resolution – both in DVDs for home use as well as projected presentations for an audience about about 150. Obviously, quality swiftly drops when enlarging SD files. But self-burned Blu-Ray is a revelation! My projected shows are infinitely better and now I can offer either standard or Blu-Ray versions on disks to my distribution list. (I now want to figure out how to but both versions on one disk so that each is menu-selectable or, better still, defaults to accommodate Blu-Ray whenever the hardware is available.)

It is worth noting that both the TV/projector AND the Blu-Ray player must be properly adjusted for maximum quality. I guess some hardware combinations will automatically do this but I found one new Sony Blu-Ray player, out-of-the-box, fell short because default settings were not optimal for the NEC projector I was using. The picture was very good but not what I expected. Once I got into the player menus and tweaked those settings, the image suddenly snapped to perfection.

Larry adds: Thanks, David, for taking the time to write this.

UPDATE – May 31, 2010

Fred Tims asks:

I have two issues with the Share Menu’s Blu-ray feature.

  1. With the BD-R discs that I burn, the “Skip” button on my Sony BDP-S301 player does not work. Is it just me? The player? FCP7? The chapter markers are indeed there and can be addressed by using the Top Menu. The Skip function also works fine with discs that I burn using Toast.
  2. My other issue is using Title Graphics over Share’s pre-built menus. When it works, PSD files with transparency can look great. Problem is, transparent backgrounds don’t always work. Why? Is there a certain attribute that my PSD files must possess?

Thanks Larry. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Larry replies: Fred, I have no idea. If a reader has a suggestion, I’ll pass it along.

UPDATE – June 3, 2010

Todd Buhmiller adds:

Larry, I want to thank you for your newsletter, I always get it, kinda read it and then forget about it. Last night I was encoding some hd to sd and having issues with qmaster. To make a long story short, I read yesterdays newsletter and the article that intrigued me was the Blu-Ray testimony.

I never thought to take HD and put it into Toast and let Toast do the encoding and then burn a SD disc.

I was able to take a 80 min shoot of full 35Mb sec XDCam video, cut it up into two 40 min clips, and then burn two SD discs in 60 min.

That has helped so much that I had to write you to tell you and thank you.

Larry replies: Thanks, Todd, for writing. It really makes me happy when I can help.

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