HD DVD creation on the Mac and PC

Although I tend to blog about HDi and advanced interactivity in HD DVD, many customers simply want to release their high-definition video quickly and cheaply. If you are a professional videographer shooting things like weddings, corporate events, marketing collateral, industrial films, digital shorts, etc. then often you won't need a disc with the breakthrough interactivity seen on titles such as Universal Pictures' Smokin' Aces. You also may not have the time or money to invest in creating such a disc.

The great news is that the HD DVD standard supports such productions with two key features. The first is the ability to create what's called "Standard Content," which is essentially the same as traditional DVD content but with high-definition video and audio. In other words, you still get 6 times the resolution and much better sound, but you don't get the cool animated menu overlays. That means easy title creation with virtually no learning curve.

The second feature is the ability to create fully-compliant HD DVD discs using existing red-laser DVD-9 media. That's right – you can burn HD DVD content onto a 9GB DVD disc for exactly the same price as a regular DVD. How cool is that? And lest anyone complain that "9GB isn't enough," it is plenty big enough for short-form content (such as weddings, short films, etc.) at normal bit-rates, and we've even seen several feature-length HD DVD release on DVD-9s with somewhat lower bitrates.

So how does one create such a disc? Well, if you are running on a Mac you probably already have Apple's DVD Studio Pro. It has supported creating HD DVD discs for a while now, using the same interface you are used to for standard DVDs. (Interesting aside: one of the more persistent rumours out there is that "Apple supports Blu-ray." Whilst it's true that they are on the Blu-ray Disc Association's board, the assertion is a little misleading since they're also an active member of the DVD Forum, and they actually ship products that support HD DVD).

For those of you using a PC, you have the choice of several packages, including Pinnacle Studio Plus 11, Ulead DVD MovieFactory, and CyberLink PowerProducer, among others. We expect all the current DVD-creation products to include high-definition creation (both HD DVD and Blu-ray) as time goes by, especially as burners become available.

Unfortunately, none of the tools listed above will generate the multiplexed A/V data needed for a complete Advanced Content title... yet. For that you will need something high-end like Sonic Scenarist, although we hope to see more consumer-focused options in this areas soon. Another option is NetBlender's DoStudio, an authoring package that supports Advanced Content authoring (including graphical creation of menus) and is licensed on a month-to-month basis rather than a purchase-to-own basis, but it doesn't currently perform the final multiplexing of data.

P.S. The best part of all this? DVD-9 isn't just limited to Standard Content; you can make Advanced Content on a DVD-9 as well! You can download the Coloured Blocks Advancing on a Moving Block sample, burn it to a UDF 2.5 disc, and play it on an Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive today with your Xbox 360 controller!

Comments (7)
  1. Tyler says:

    Any news on when HDi + VC-1 consumer authoring solutions will come to market? Or when VC-1 authoring will be added to DVD Studio Pro?

  2. ptorr says:

    You can get VC-1 support for DVD Studio Pro today via a plug-in to Apple’s Compressor (http://www.apple.com/finalcutstudio/compressor/support.html)

    DoStudio supports HDi, but as noted is not an end-to-end solution right now since it doesn’t encode or mux. Not sure when we’ll see the first pro-sumer application that does it all 😐

  3. JT says:

    Not being able to afford the PEP (or Sonic’s new name for it).  I seeked out other companies who have been doing encoding for DVDs and have VC-1 Encoders.  Including your recommended Mac Plugin on this blog: The Telestream encoder.    So far the answer I’ve received from several companies is that they are awaiting for the specifications from Microsoft so they can create a valid HD-DVD VC-1 files and until then they do not have a compatible solution.  So I tried the Telestream VC-1 application and then asked an old friend to mux the encoded video.  It would not mux as it turns out it wasn’t a valid HD-DVD VC-1 file.  

    I’m asking if someone at Microsoft can you tell me if there are any other company aside from Sonic, who can create a valid HD-DVD VC-1 file?

    This link here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/events/NAB_partners.mspx#E4  suggests there are others, but only provides Sonic’s.

  4. ptorr says:

    Telestream states they support VC-1 for HD DVD on their website (see http://www.telestream.net/pdfs/datasheets/dat_Episode.pdf).

    Note that Microsoft doesn’t control the specs for HD DVD; the DVD Forum does. Also note that MPEG-LA (not Microsoft) now provides the VC-1 spec and licenses the VC-1 format (http://www.smpte.org/news/pr/view?item_key=a135f13b173a982bb71f1cd3ee4403671fcf2057).

    Nevertheless, I will check to see if we know of any issues with Telestream.

  5. Ian Shepherd says:

    Rivergate Software, who make DVDAfterEdit, are developing a new application, HDAfterEdit. Currently development is focusing on Pre-mastering ( ie. reading & writing HD DVD disc images ), however the version I am alpha-testing is already able to open and browse ACA files. Ultimately you will be able to drag-and-drop to replace images, create/edit playlists etc, and all filename references, timecodes etc. will automatically update. They have even more ambitious plans for the future, but at the moment I think a highly affordable ACA editing and formating/muxing solution is pretty good news as it is.

    The program is due to enter beta-testing later this summer. More info on the DVDAfterEdit site here: http://www.dvdafteredit.com  – there is a discount available which will qualify people who pre-order for the beta program.

    Hope that’s interesting, anyone interested in becoming an alpha-tester is welcome to contact me privately: ian(AT)dvdafteredit.com

  6. General Why is Microsoft involved in HD DVD? Microsoft supports HD DVD because the mandatory player features

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