1080p AVCHD/Blu-ray from a Mac

After months of working on it, I finally developed a method for creating 1080p Blu-ray and AVCHD discs from a Mac.  Here’s the workflow.

  1. Content shot on a Canon HF10 AVCHD Camera in 24p mode (critical, 1080i60 and 1080p30 mode cannot be encoded at 1080p for either AVCHD or Blu-ray)
  2. Content transcoded through Final Cut Express into Apple Intermediate Codec and edited in a AVCHD 1080i60 sequence (The content coming off the camera is 24p packaged in 60i so it can be edited without problem in FCE)
  3. Once the sequence was complete, it is export as a QuickTime movie (1920*1080 @ 29.97 fps, interlaced, Linear PCM Audio)
  4. Sequence is fed into JES Deinterlacer for Inverse Telecine back to 23.976 with cadence breaks detected.  Output is Apple Intermediate Codec and the sound is just copied.
  5. Sequence is then added to Adobe Encore.  Menus are designed in HD (1920*1080).  Encoding is set very carefully.  Either MPEG-2 or h.264 for Blu-ray is fine, although if you elect h.264 you’ll need to opt for Linear PCM Audio rather than Dolby Digitial.  The only quirk I’ve discovered is that if you elect to use h.264 you’ll need to manually adjust your audio to encode at 384 Kbps.  When I tried the default setting in Encore of 192 Kbps it didn’t encode properly.  My suggestion is that you use an average bitrate of 15 Mbps with a maximum bitrate of 17 Mbps.  This, plus the 384 Kbps for audio, should keep your disc safely under the 18 Mbps maximum bitrate for AVCHD on DVD.    Make sure the frame rate is 23.976 Progressive.
  6. Then, from Encore, output Blu-ray folder to your hard drive.  Make an additional copy of the folder and label it AVCHD (or whatever you’d like)
  7. Now it gets tricky… you’ll need to get ahold of an index.bdmv file from an AVCHD disc.  This can be from a camera, from Toast, wherever, but it’s gotten be something that is AVCHD.  The index.bdmv file produced by Encore is for Blu-ray only and will not be recongized by players as AVCHD.  I used Toast 9 to create a project that was AVCHD and copied that file.  Put the AVCHD index.bdmv into the AVCHD version of the BDMV folder.
  8. Now it gets even more fun – using Parallels of VMWare or something similar, download BDedit (a free program) and open up two instances of this program.  One for the original BDMV folder and another for the AVCHD edition.  Using BDedit modify the AVCHD index.bdmv folder so it’s idential to the original index.bdmv file.
  9. Save your changes.
  10. Now, burn that BDMV folder to disc.  Just to be safe I use Toast 9’s burn from BDMV folder, but I think you could just burn it straight and it would work fine.
  11. Pop in your PS3 or Blu-ray player and enjoy your home movies in full 1080p.

The same sequence works if you’re looking to make regular Blu-ray discs (BD+R or BD+RE) except that you can use much high bitrates in Encore and burn directly from Encore without having to mess with Windows.  But, Blu-ray media is super-expensive so I take the extra steps to use DVD and DVD+DL discs.

I’ll put together a writted tutorial as a .pdf when I get a chance that’ll be more helpful than this text-only description.

  1. Trent
    February 21, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Brian – If I stop after step #4 do I have 1080p (or what would be considered close to 1080p) which I could play via computer (mac mini) hooked to my 1080p HDTV?

  2. Trent
    March 2, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Thanks I will give that a try.

  3. David G.
    March 7, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Can I create a 1080i60 Blu-ray from a FCE created 1080i60 .MOV from my HF-10 recorded at 1080-PF30? Will it be free of interlaced motion artifact (little jagged lines)?

  4. Sean
    June 21, 2009 at 12:50 am

    im curious, based on what i have read the step of deinterlacing will reduce your quality substantially, so it may burn a progressive blu-ray but will be at a loss in quality. Also from what i have read tvs, hdtvs, dvd players etc all properly convert interlaced footage, and it will not have interlacing problems as you might see on a computer LCD as it is only progressive and can not handle Interlaced footage. The only time to deinterlace should be if the content is being played on a computer or the internet. I could be wrong. but thought id give my two cents.

  5. Brian
    June 21, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Sean-

    In step 4 I use a program “JES Deinterlacer” to “remove telecine” from the video file. This is not de-interlacing. In this workflow content is recorded in the 24p mode so it’s natively progressive. But it is stored in a 1080i60 container – so six extra frames per second (merely duplicates of other frames) are stored as well. The de-telecine process after editing removes those extra six frames – leaving the original 24p footage in tact. If you don’t de-telecine then you’ll end up with lousy 1080i footage

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