Thursday, September 2, 2010

Current State of Blu-ray Authoring/Modification

This is a forum post I recently posted on a certain site. It’s an outline of the current technology/software available to Blu-ray authoring and modification. I think my summary is quite complete and the information is quite accurate.
Subbing Blu-ray is very Doable.

You have two ways to do it:

1. The Great China's way - tsMuxeR + clpi/mpli hexediting + BDedit (It's a more convoluted way, but quite flexible; I've seen people on doom9 only replacing the m2ts file, this is ABSOLUTELY WRONG, it's not gonna work with every disc without editing the corresponding clpi (stream information) and mpli (subpath/interactive features, seeking) files. This method is limited by the ability of tsMuxeR, means no multi-angle, PiP, movies with many m2ts files (seamless branching), etc)

2. The Great Russia's way - Sonic Scenarist BD + BD Reauthor Pro (It's more straight forward as long as you just want to sub, but the possibility is endless with this option including menu editing on HDMV titles, etc etc; it's limited by the ability of BD Reauthor Pro, it certainly cannot handle every disc on market at the moment, even some Hollywood ones, I've also heard one people saying that it cannot put the disc back to the original state such as Cardcaptor Sakura's menu, I've got to try that one someday)

For actual software to create the subtitles, you've got two options:
1. Old fashioned subpictures but with 256 colors now. You've got two programs that acutally works and obtainable:
  1). Lemony Pro - commercial software
  2). avs2bdnxml - look for doom9's subtitle forum. (I didn't mention BDSup2Sub because soon you don't need it once the author finishes the sup output module)
A good candidate is punkstreamgraphics, also developed by member from doom9, but currently it’s not functioning well.

2. New text based textST format. I think none of the free muxing software supports this type because the textST streams are muxed separately from the main m2ts file. You've also got two programs that actually works:
  1). Lemony Pro - commercial software
  2). srt2bdn - a small program someone wrote, I was lucky enough to grab it before it's gone.

Not all players support the textST format, I think powerDVD 8 2217a crashes on these. Also Blu-ray players absolutely hates non standard characters, they either show an ugly square on PS3, or empty space in TMT3, so this makes extremely hard to picking out the mistakes unless you watch the whole thing if your source is some online copy&paste. So I think subpictures are still the way to go, and you get the same maximum 32 subpicture type of subtitles as DVD, but with textST, you can have upto 255 subtitle streams in total along with subpictures (PES).

Regarding the Blu-ray authoring tools:

Adobe sucks in DVD/BD authoring. It's more for amateurs.
Apple/Spruce is never a big supporter for Blu-ray, so we won't see an authoring package that works like DVDMaestro/DVD Studio Pro for ease of use and yet very strong functions anytime soon.
The two work similarly as DVDMaestro/DVD Studio Pro are SONY Blu-print and Netblender's Dostudio. The former one asks for $60,000 and only installable on native English winxp workstations (weird no Japanese support??), the latter one last time I checked doesn't even have timeline?? asks for certain amount of licensing fee every year. SONY does have a little brother called DVD architect, which supports simple Blu-ray authoring since ver 4.5, it doesn't support pop-up menu and HD audio codecs (DD+/TrueHD, DTS-HD HR/MA).

Last option is Sonic Scenarist BD, something that actually obtainable and works. The HDMV mode authoring is not too much different from its DVD version, so any experienced Scenarist users can get the hang of it in just a few days, maybe weeks as long as some quirks get worked out (blame on SONY for those weird BD specs). The BD-J mode uses a modified version of Eclipse, you'll need to know both Java programming and BD specs to actually make things work. Oh, Blu-ray only supports Java ver 1.3 I think, and the latest Java is ver 1.6, so some features are not supported. Sonic also has extra support for Ensequence on-Q Create, it's pre-configured/tested working Blu-ray compliant Java codes that you can use in your project, so it should make programming and testing a lot easier. Another such plug-in like package is sofatronic's Kaleidoscope.

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