Jul 132011

Having just finished my very first blu-ray project and now having to move immediately to another, I’ve discovered one fact about authoring Blu-ray discs: the available software goes from “meant for n00bs” straight to “professional quality”. There is no in-between.


I looked at several Blu-ray authoring packages, ranging from Cyberlink’s PowerProducer 5.5 and Pegasys Inc.’s TMPGenc Authoring Works 4 all the way up to Sony’s DVD Architect Pro 5.2 (part of the Vegas suite) and Adobe’s Encore (part of the Premiere Pro suite). Those sets all range from the “meant for authoring virgins” to “you’re a power disc author” in both functionality and price.

The problem is that there were no other options out there! Lots of DVD authoring tools exist, but DVD is far more mature than Blu-ray. I’ll admit fully that Blu-ray authoring is an immature marketplace. But with the explosion in high-definition camcorders, I find it amazing that we are only given two categories when it comes to authoring.

(In fairness, there is a third category; but the only item in that category is Scenarist by Roxio, which is the de facto standard in Blu-ray authoring for major corporations. Of course, its prices start at around $1,000 per user.)

Go into the camcorder section of any Best Buy or other box store and you’ll see that the majority of camcorders are in high-definition, even camcorders that are only a few hundred dollars. (720p is still high-definition.) HD camcorders will become the norm very quickly as the price differential between SD and HD continues to decline. With the potential influx of new customers who want to retain their memories comes the increase of people who potentially want Blu-ray authoring tools that are more than “here are the limited templates that you can use but look at how cute and family-friendly they are!!” but aren’t willing to shell out the money for more professional packages that cost more than the camcorder.

The other side of that coin is the greed of companies like Sony and Adobe who offer very powerful Blu-ray authoring tools; however, the tools themselves are not available individually. The only way to purchase DVD Architect Pro is to purchase the entire Vegas Pro suite with an MSRP of $699; the only way to purchase Encore is to purchase the entire Premiere Pro suite with an MSRP of $799.

Why Sony and Adobe are sticking to this kind of mentality is somewhat baffling. I already have HD authoring tools that work just fine for me. I don’t need a whole suite of products – I only need one component that in and of itself is already a standalone product. As long as I create Blu-ray-compliant video files, all that I need is a way to author them with a product that gives me more than “cute template” authoring options.

Sadly, Sony and Adobe would alikely give the excuse of “the products are meant to work together in a single workflow”. Then, pray tell, why are demos of the separate components available for download? If they’re going to enforce a sales policy of “all or nothing”, then why are the demos not available the same way? Even if the demos prove to be a strong enticement, the prices from having to buy the whole suite for a single product are more likely to lead to piracy more than sales.

The Blu-ray market is set to explode. The cheap access to HD camcorders, the low price in blank media (currently $1 or less per disc if you buy online), and the previous experience of people who are upgrading to HD from standard definition DV mean that the vacuum in mid-level Blu-ray authoring tools needs to be filled.

Sony and Adobe could fill that right now by making DVD Architect Pro and Encore standalone packages at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, they apparently would rather lose potential sales by dissuading people from buying full packages when they could otherwise be getting some of that money by selling the components separately.