Beating the Blu-ray coding blues


Tommy Simonsson runs SitoCad in Stockholm, Sweden, a professional video production company specialising in industrial work, conferences and weddings. He shoots in high definition on a Sony PMW-EX3 camcorder, and finishes his projects using the Grass Valley EDIUS nonlinear editor.
“When I show them what HD looks like, most of my customers choose Blu-ray as the delivery medium,” Simonsson explained. “They see Blu-ray giving them better quality.”
The problem he has is that the authoring tools he uses – Sony DVD Architect 5 and Corel DVD MovieFactory 7 – take an age to transcode from the native MPEG-2 coding format of the EX3 to the H.264/AVC coding used on Blu-ray discs. This is a common problem: AVC encoding is an extremely processor-intensive operation.
“I can import the Sony files direct into EDIUS for editing,” Simonsson explains, “but I do not like the down-time as a result of converting to AVC.”
EDIUS has a thriving online community, sharing information and swapping ideas. It was here that he read a report from someone who had the chance to beta test what was then a new product from the Grass Valley EDIUS family: the FIRECODER Blu.
FIRECODER Blu is a PCIe card which plugs into a Windows-based PC. It uses Cell microprocessor architecture, jointly developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM, to transcode MPEG-2 files to AVC. Because it is a dedicated board, it does it really quickly – two or three times faster than real time, and very much faster than transcoding using the computer’s own CPU.
“From what I read online it seemed that this was the answer to my problem,” said Simonsson. “The people who had tested it liked the way it worked. When I ordered the system, it was still so new that the dealer had not heard about it. But they got it in and I tried it.
“Using FIRECODER Blu-accelerated encoding saves a huge amount of time on any project, especially if you need to make last minute changes and re-encode.”
He also pointed out another, perhaps less obvious benefit: archiving. AVC is an extremely compact format, and completed projects stored this way take up a fifth of the disk space than MPEG-2 files would use. Projects can be quickly archived using FIRECODER Blu, eliminating much of the time taken on this task.
The FIRECODER board is bundled with a simple software utility to create Blu-ray Discs, but for discs with menus it needs to work in conjunction with third-party authoring software. Simonsson suggested that Grass Valley implement an even tighter tie-in with the EDIUS editor, so that it can encode the media directly from the timeline – something that has indeed been implemented with the latest software release, version 5.1.
For now, he says “working with FIRECODER Blu is very simple and very fast. I have talked to my friends in the business and told them to get it.”

Tags: blu-ray | iss031 | sitocad stockholm | ex3 | sweden | edius | grass valley | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Frontniche at IBC2011

    Frontniche at IBC2011

  • Editors Keys at ProVideo2011

    Editors Keys at ProVideo2011

  • BOXER showcase AJA, Newtek, Grass Valley, Qumulo, V-Nova and Telestream at BVE 2019

    BOXER showcase AJA, Newtek, Grass Valley, Qumulo, V-Nova and Telestream at BVE 2019

  • Grass Valley at BVE 2015

    Grass Valley at BVE 2015

  • Grass Valley at BVE 2014

    Grass Valley at BVE 2014

  • Grass Valley at BVE 2013

    Grass Valley at BVE 2013

  • Grass Valley at NAB 2012

    Grass Valley at NAB 2012

  • Grass Valley at IBC2011

    Grass Valley at IBC2011


Articles
Review: JVC GY-HC900 Camera
Andy McKenzie JVC has a long history of developing relatively low price-point equipment, dating right back to its success in the 1970s with the VHS tape format. JVC products sometimes impact the broadcast mainstream but generally find greatest success in niche market segments such as news production where price and portability take priority over the no-comprise quality and robustness demanded by the leading studio-based and OB content producers.
Tags: iss138 | jvc review | camera | sdhc | sdxc | mpeg-2 | nab | gy-hc900 | Andy McKenzie
Contributing Author Andy McKenzie Click to read or download PDF
How the Womens World Cup was Boosted by Broadcast
John Griffiths As we write this article, England’s Lionesses have just beaten Norway 3-0 and are smashing viewing figure records, with 6.9 million viewers tuning in to watch them play Cameroon on BBC One. Rewind to the previous World Cup in 2015, and England’s group and early stage knockout games tempted up to 2.5 million viewers for each match. It’s safe to say that women’s football is finally having its moment; what was perhaps once considered a niche sport is finally gaining momentum in the mainstream space with broadcasters giving it the attention it deserves.
Tags: iss138 | wwc | world cup | spicymango | diversity | John Griffiths
Contributing Author John Griffiths Click to read or download PDF
Making the Workflow Flow
Bruce Devlin - new The toughest things about being the Standards Vice President (SVP) is that everyone expects standards to be the most important thing. In all the systems that I’ve designed and deployed over the years, I've yet to find any production workflow that is 100% standards based. True, the core technologies may well be standards based, but the overall workflow is made up of many technology pieces from open source code, through de-facto delivery specifications based upon SMPTE or Trade Association Specifications that in turn depend on full, International Standards to work. I can already hear some folks saying "In the good old days, everything used standards", but I beg to disagree.
Tags: iss138 | pye museum | pye-philips | smpte | ietf | ieee | w3c | aes | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
TVFutures. No More Comfort Zone - Get a Placement
Michelle Brown I have often heard that any chance of getting work in the television industry is based quite heavily on who you know, and whilst that might indeed be true, I’ve also come to the realisation that it may also depends on what opportunities you seize and how far out of your comfort zone you might be prepared to push yourself.
Tags: iss138 | portsmouth uni | creative careers | placement | Michelle Brown
Contributing Author Michelle Brown Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation: Wings, Fine Coffee and Fake Nudes
Dick Hobbs - new One of the many attractions of this time of year is that I get to meet with my fellow judges for the IBC Innovation Awards, and see what the industry sees as the most important, most forward-looking projects of the day. For me, this says what the key talking points are going to be in September, far more eloquently than the endless press releases from vendors which are already tumbling into my inbox.
Tags: iss138 | ibc | smpte 2110 | deepnude | cisco | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF