Blu-ray FAQ | Gamma Ray Digital

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Blu-ray FAQ

FAQ: Blu-ray Authoring

What is Blu-ray?

Blu-Ray is the next generation 120mm optical disc format. It's a High Definition replacement for DVD, with higher picture quality, more video and audio formats to choose from, full color menus, more readable subtitles, and more.

How does Blu-Ray differ from DVD?

At first glance, the discs look the same - Blu-Ray discs are the same size and shape as CDs and DVDs. But instead of red lasers to read the data from the disc, Blu-Ray uses blue lasers. The smaller wavelength of blu-laser allows more data to be packed into the same physical area as a DVD or CD. In terms of picture quality, Blu-Ray is high defintion, and allows for use of advanced video compression schemes not used in DVD, such as SMPTE VC-1 and AVC (A.K.A.: "H.264"). Blu-Ray's audio capabilities far exceed DVD as well, allowing uncompressed PCM surround sound streams for quality that matches that heard in the mastering environment. Additionally, Blu-Ray allows for much more advanced interactivity than DVD.

How much does it cost to make a Blu-Ray disc?

Every project is different, so please contact us for a quote

Can you duplicate BD-R discs?

Yes. As of this writing, BD-R duplication is the only practical way to make small runs of Blu-Ray discs. Note that like the early days of DVD-R, some players will not properly play recordable discs, so we recommend that you only use duplicated discs in controlled environments with players you know will work. It's not a suitable format for distribution - yet.

Can I put standard definition content on a Blu-Ray disc?

You can put standard def content on a Blu-Ray discs. We recommend leaving standard definition content at its native resolution on Blu-ray. This means you can't have pop-up menus over SD content. However, it takes up much less space on the disc, leaving room for higher quality HD encodes (such as for your feature film), and it avoids potential complaints from reviewers, who generally don't like to see upconverted SD content on Blu-ray.

What master formats do you accept?

Pretty much anything from HDCAM SR down to HDV. If you'd prefer to provide uncompressed or ProRes HQ files from your NLE, we ask that you do so on Firewire 800, eSATA or USB3 drives, as the size of HD files are huge compared to standard definition. Please contact us in advance to go over the formats you'll be submitting, so we can be sure everything is in order.

What authoring software do you use?

For Blu-Ray authoring, we use Sonic Scenarist BD v5.2.

What formats can you encode?

Blu-Ray supports MPEG-2, AVC and VC-1 codecs for video, and we can encode to all three. For audio, we recommend and encode to DTS-HD MA for the highest quality.

Can I design my own menus?

Blu-Ray menus differ significantly from DVD menus. Rather than a single background layer and a single highlight layer as with DVD, Blu-Ray menus are divided into groupings of 8-bit buttons that must be formatted in a very specific way. As such, preparation of the files for authoring is much more complex than with DVD (there are limitations related to color indexing that must be strictly adhered to, among other things). At this time, we can only accept menus that you design if you're working with a facility that is familiar with designing for Blu-Ray. You are welcome, however, to have your designers provide us with sketches and guidelines, but at this time we have to do the design work in-house in order to be sure everything will work properly.

Can you create Pop-Up menus?

Yes - In HDMV mode, all menus essentially function like Pop-up menus, even if they're always on. We can create discs that are structured like DVD, or with pop-up menus over the running video, or any combination of the above.