Errata - BluRay & Compressor 3

In this previous post I lamented how Apple seemed to be dragging its heels on providing BluRay authoring tools in its Pro Apps suite.

I got at least one fact wrong: Compressor 3 does export for BluRay.

Where did I go to find this out? Adobe!

Specifically, the DAV TechTable blog - which is filled with useful how-to's on BluRay authoring and I've placed into my RSS reader (now that I'm an owner of the Adobe Production Suite CS3 bundle, which supports BluRay authoring on the Mac).

Here's the post which gives explicit instructions on how to export from Compressor for BluRay authoring in Encore DVD. It's not a built-in preset in Compressor, so you'll want to build and save these settings as a Custom Preset.

If you're a glass half empty person, you've got to wonder why this setting isn't shipping as a preset in Compressor. Is it an ominous sign of Apple trying to keep its boot on the neck of BluRay? If you're a glass half full person, hopefully this is a positive omen that the next version of Final Cut Studio will have much more explicit support for BluRay authoring.

- pi

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Sour Apples

I first heard the name "Final Cut Pro" in November of 2001. This was when a producer asked me to get up to speed on it for a corporate gig the following January. It was probably the very next day that I read online that Final Cut Pro was going to be sold.

It's a rumor that won't die.


This years' rumors have a slightly different tenor. Apple pulled out of NAB. For whatever reason they state, with $18 billion cash in the bank - money isn't the issue. Or - at least, potential access to money isn't the issue. This non-MBA imagines that Jobs forces each division to stand on its own and if ProApps has money problems such that they didn't think a booth was worth the expense... perhaps they're having trouble meeting their margins. At least Avid has an excuse for its NAB disappearing act that Apple doesn't, Avid is undergoing a major re-organiztion. They'll be back at NAB once their new strategy is ready to roll.

If you want to read what I consider the most interesting analysis on Apple selling ProApps, then check out this article by Robert X. Cringley.

Cringley's analysis helped me gather my thoughts on something else that is bothering me about Apple's handling of its ProApps division. And its has me starting to wonder if Apple is the best company to manage the Final Cut Studio array of products. Specifically, it's Apple's handling of BluRay that's the heart of my misgivings.

None of Apple's ProApps support BluRay DVD creation. Final Cut won't export to BluRay. Compressor won't encode to BluRay. DVD Studio Pro won't author BluRay. Not a single Mac ships with BluRay playback or burning. And my wife's business is getting weekly calls for BluRay duplication and authoring.

For the first time in my memory, Apple has fallen behind my customers!

Why? Why? Why is Apple forcing me to consider buying Adobe Encore or (hissssss) a PC-based authoring tool for a need my clients want today?

It drives me nuts that a company so forward-thinking is dropping the ball on next-generation content creation. As Cringley points out in an earlier article on Apple's (lack of) BluRay strategy, the answer is probably summed up in one concept: High-Def Downloads.

In other words: Apple's consumer strategy is now at odds with its development of its ProApps product line.

Is it possible that Apple no longer deserves to handle the ProApps division? Has Apple finally reached its inflection point where it will sacrifice its traditionally strong and loyal ProApps customers for its newfound success in content delivery?

I don't know.

I know this: For the first time in 7 years I'm not discounting the Cringley analysis. For once, the rumors may be true.

If Apple does sell the Pro Apps division at a time when it's still holding back on delivering BluRay creation tools... I'll say, good riddance - it was a great ride but it will have been time for both businesses to move on.

UPDATE 1: Not everyone buys Cringley's analysis.

- pi

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BluRay Replication - Paying For Nothing

In a previous post I lamented the high costs of BluRay replication for short runs (less than 5,000 pieces).

These costs can be attributed directly to the mandatory copy protection scheme (DRM) for the BluRay specification. Not only will a company like my wife's (Dubs by Pam) have to pay a one-time fee to place orders on behalf of her customers. Her customers will have to pay a per-title fee. And these fees are non-trivial for these types of short runs, $5500 for the duplication house, $1900 for each title (according to Larry Jordan on Digital Production Buzz).

Why, I ask myself, must they (the AACS) keep ringing us up for copy protection when almost none of our clients want to pay for it now or for the foreseeable future?

Ars Technica has the rather in-my-face-now-that-I'm-looking-for-it answer: The AACS needs to keep paying for continual development of new DRM schemes because they know they'll be cracked every few months. I betch'a if my accountant took a look at their books, that line item on their Income Statement is probably the budget for creating new "uncrackable" codes.

What a joke.

The only way the large motion picture distributors will ever be able to keep their content from being illegally distributed is to implement DRM directly in the human optical system. Otherwise, if they want us to buy their DVDs to watch a movie at home - at some point the signal must be decrypted for the digital-to-analog conversion and that will always be the point of attack. You can't have mass distribution while having a lock-solid distribution method - then it's not mass distribution.

So. The AACS maintains the fiction of DRM for the movie studios and the rest of us have to pay. Literally.

I suppose I shouldn't be complaining too loudly - it makes services such as those offered by Dubs by Pam that much more economically feasible...

Still - the short-sightedness of the whole DRM racket is stunning.

- pi

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