Adobe Premiere Pro and Encore Outputing DVD and BluRay Workflow

Posted on 8/16/2011 10:32:00 PM

Workflow with tips and tricks from obtaining footage from DSLR, to editing with Premiere Pro, to encoding with Adobe Media Encoder, to outputing DVD and Bluray disc with Encore.

Adobe provides Dynamic Links to output from Premiere timeline to Encore to output DVD and BluRay. However, we have a different workflow that increase flexibility in the authoring process. It involves using a separate computer for the encoding purpose. Therefore, it might not be for everyone.

1. From Memory Cards to Harddrives

DSLR Movie clips (.MOV) are copied to computer harddrives in folders. An second copy of the source video files are saved for backup purpose. The backup drives is kept offline and stored in a different location.
We adopted the Trayless Removable Harddrive System or Harddrive Docks to keep projects on different harddrives.

2. Intermediate Codec

Premiere Pro CS5 can handle H.264 .MOV file natively. However, the NLE is always happier to edit AVI files. We go with Cineform for this purpose. However, if you do want to invest in Cineform, there is the free Matrox I-Frame HD Intermediate Codec you can try.

3. Export

After editing, we export the edited footage to an intermediate format such as Cineform AVI or Matrox AVI. Since the intermediate codec is a high quality "lossless" codec, there is almost no reduction of the image quality loss.
You can also export directly from Premiere timeline to Adobe Media Encoder. In that case, you do not need to export to an Intermediate Codec. However, the overall exporting and encoding time will be longer because Premiere will need to render several times.

4. Encoding Tricks

Encoding is a time consuming task. We use a separate machine with Adobe Media Encoder for batch encoding purpose. This off-load the main computer for editing work.
We encode each video files in 4 data rates. Therefore, we do not need rely on Encore to transcode so all the videos fit to the DVD or BluRay. We must avoid having Encore to transcode any imported video files (see steps below).
For DVD, we encode video into MPEG-2 with the following data rates. We actually use GrassValley Procoder for MPEG-2 DVD as it's Master Quality preset generates Hollywood movie quality MPEG-2 output.

Low2 mbps3 mbps6 mbps
Medium3 mbps5 mbps7 mbps
High5 mbps7 mbps8 mbps
Highest6 mbps8 mbps9 mbps

For BluRay authoring, we export as "H.264 BluRay" with the following data rate is used.
Low12 mbps15 mbps18 mbps
Medium15 mbps18 mbps22 mbps
High18 mbps22 mbps25 mbps
Highest20 mbps25 mbps28 mbps

The reason to encode each video files into 4 different data rate is, during authoring, we can mix and match different file size to optimize the total disc capacity. For example, the Wedding Ceremony chapter is usually less frequent to watch. There were also more static scenes. Thus a lower data rate encoded file will be selected. That save up the bandwidth for more frequent viewed chapters such as the Event Highlights video.
Now we mix and match all footage to fill the output medium. Select about 4GB worth of MPEG-2 files for DVD authoring and 22 GB files for BluRay authoring.

5. Author with Encore

If the imported videos are not DVD or BluRay compliance, Encore will transcode the video. It is a must to AVOID transcoding by Encore. It will degrade the video quality and it will also exponentially increase the overall built time.
Encore is capable to author both DVD and BluRay. To have a smooth process to "Author Once, Output Twice", try to follow these steps in Encore to build both DVD and BluRay.
   Create a HD project. This project is actually for building DVD.
   Import all DVD MPEG-2 files into the project and start authoring in Encore
   Build the final DVD (We always build into DVD folder, then use ImgBurn to burn the DVD folder into a DVD-video disc). Building DVD is much faster than building BluRay. In that case, you save time before you can test the built DVD.
   Save and Exit Encore
   Test the DVD to makes sure all navigation structures are in place. Check for any spelling mistakes too.
   Make a copy of the encore project folder in Windows Exporer. Rename this folder to reflect this is a BluRay built
   Open the project, select each import video clip and hit Ctrl-Alt-Shirt-R to replace the same video with the HD version encoded in Step 4.
   Save and close the project. Then reload it. This time it will take Encore quite some time to open the project. Don't think Encore freezes. Encore just needs extra time to adjust the video frame for each timeline, and verifying if the replaced video file is BluRay compliant.
   Check on the Project pane in Encore all the new replaced video files are show "Don't Transcode".
   If you could, add the BluRay Popup Menu. It is a feature only available in BluRay, but not DVD. DVD has top and root menu. In BluRay, the root menu is replaced by Popup menu. You can download a template to the link provided above.
   Now have Encore build the BluRay folder. Same thing, use ImgBurn to burn the BluRay folder into BluRay disc. Try to stay away from Encore handling the burning chore.
This method involves using a separate computer for the encoding tasks. It might not work for you. If you have any comment, please feel free to leave them below.




Posted by Azadul Haq on 8/17/2011 11:15:00 AM Great tips! I didn't know that transcoding in Encore will reduce video quality. My source is in HD but my DVD output are coming out very soft and low resolution. Maybe that is the reason.
However, I am confused about step 3 and step 5(2). Step 3 says "After editing, we do not export to MPEG-2 for DVD", but step 5 (2) says, "Import all DVD MPEG-2 files". Should it not be import all Cineform or Matrox AVI?

Replied by LA Color Pros Azadul, each transcoding process reduce quality by one generation. So it's best to reduce the amount of transcoding that takes place. Therefore, some people would use Adobe Dynamic Link to export to DVD directly from Premiere timeline to Encore. In that case, it will be Encore to determine the bit rate and settings to be used.
That's what I mean in step 3 that we do not export to MPEG-2 from Premiere. We export to a high quality intermediate AVI files (Cineform or Matrox). Then have AME to encode from that AVI to MPEG-2 with different bit rate files to be import to Encore for authoring. Hope it clears up the confusion.
Posted by Gerald on 8/17/2011 1:24:00 PM Thanks for sharing this info. I'll give it a shot and hope Encore stops re-encoding my encoded files.

Replied by LA Color Pros Give it a try! I think Encore CS5 works well with the H.264 files generated by AME.
Posted by Azadul Haq on 8/24/2011 12:07:00 AM Thank you very much. When I encode as MPEG-2 from Premiere and import the asset in Encore, it is marked as do not transcode in Encore. So am I not encoding only once?

Replied by LA Color Pros That's a good sign if Encore says "Don't Transcode". However, I always close the project and re-open before the final burn. That will force Encore to check each imported asset compliance with the DVD standard.
Posted by Christian on 8/25/2011 7:01:00 AM I always use Dynamic Link from Premiere to Encore and while Encore defaults to "Automatic" for the transcoding, you can select your own presets and modify to your heart's content. Encore still uses the same engine for encoding whether you do it inside of Encore or via the Adobe Media Encoder. However, by going into Encore, you can select your various presets and instantly view the amount of DVD/Blu-ray space that is occupied by your combined transcode settings. This will save you HOURS of rendering time compared to the method you indicated in your article. If there were a significant quality improvement for your method it would be one thing, but as I mentioned, the encoder inside Encore is the same as Adobe Media Encoder (and you can actually set a preference inside Encore to make it USE the Adobe Media Encoder queue if you prefer that). So any differences you might be seeing between Adobe Media Encoder outputs and Encore outputs are due to a misunderstanding on the editor's part, since it is the same encoder in both cases.
As for creating separate Blu-ray and DVD projects, that is also a bit of a clunky solution. You can use the same project and simply change the project type from DVD to Blu-ray and back again (File > Project Settings...) depending upon which type of disc you need to author at the time. Even if you render your files outside of Encore, you can simply link to your rendered files and Encore will use them - whether DVD or Blu-ray. Having separate project files can be quite complicated if you change a menu in your Blu-ray project due to a client request. You will then have to open your separate DVD project and make the same changes. For a simple project, this is a small inconvenience, but it's an unnecessary one nonetheless when you can switch back and forth from Blu-ray/DVD inside the same project with absolutely no negative side effects. To the contrary, having separate projects opens you up to more potential mistakes in your disc design as the size and complexity of your project increases.
Lastly, creating these multiple rendered files and then doing the math on the back end is an unnecessary waste of time regardless of whether you choose to transcode inside Encore or outside Encore. A simple bitrate calculator (check Google to find many) will allow you to plan out your assets based on duration and quality preferences. Just 10 minutes of calculations will prevent hours of rendering. It's absolutely worth it if you choose not to use the bitrate calculator inside of Encore.
Sorry to come across as very negative about this article, but as a professional editor with years of experience inside Encore and constant client deadlines, I could not endorse the methods you describe here because it would very likely double the amount of time I spend on an edit but it would leave me with absolutely no discernible difference in terms of final output quality. If you are finding differences between your external transcodes and the internal Encore transcodes, you should check and double check your transcode settings because the Adobe Media Encoder is feeding Encore, Premiere and After Effects equally, even if it doesn't appear that way. Visit the Adobe forums or Creative Cow forums and you will see lots of information about all of the things I mentioned here.

Replied by LA Color Pros Christian, thank you for your detail comment. It's certain beneficial to myself and many other readers.
We have been using this method since CS3 days authoring DVDs. MainConcept MPEG engine is inferior output acceptable DVD compliance MPEG-2 file only in high bit rate. Thus, we start using Grass Valley Procoder which gives us great result in low bit rate. Then with HD, we also encoded Bluray MPEG-2 with Procoder. Now we still use Procoder to encode DVD MPEG-2 file buy switch to AME for H.264 encoding.
Because of the lengthy time involved in encoding H.264 videos, we use a separate machine for the encoding job since we have a separate Backup Server running 24 hours. And just because of involving a second machine, this method might not work for everybody.
We prefer not to use Encore because of the time involved in encoding H.264. Also, we always try to off load much work from Encore because it was a buggy software. Yes it is true you can select different presets in Encore, however, changing content on the disc authoring might trigger Encore to encode again. In our method, if we add a chapter to a video, we can "Replace Asset" of an existing video file to a lower bit rate that is already encoded outside Encore. The change is instant and we do not have to wait for Encore to transcode again.
It is true that our method increases total rendering time. Since we are using a separate machine, it won't occur the main computer. Once we have any chapter rendered, we can have the second machine start encoding while we can work on other chapters.
Then with the authoring DVD and BluRay process, we tested the DVD version to make sure everything's correct. Then make a copy of the entire folder for BluRay. Yes it's true there will be two authoring projects. However, at that point, the authoring process is done. There could be minor changes. We do have to update changes on both projects. But it's not really a big issue. From our wedding projects, we hardly need to change anything after the product was delivered. If you have one some project involves constantly changing the authoring from clients' request, this method will not work for you.
Again, the method we use here is not for everybody. It also takes longer time because we have to encode different version of the same video clip. However, it is done with a separate computer. The time wasted is not even in the consideration. It gives us the flexibility to free up the main editing machine, and the flexibility to mix and match files with the size we desired.


Posted by Trisha Von Lanken on 8/25/2011 2:32:00 PM What version of Encore are you using to do this? I am using CS3 which could be my problem as to why this isn’t working for me.
Step 6, Is it just the folder Encore creates or the one I created to begin the entire project, this step isn’t making sense to me.
Step 7, I am trying to do this in CS3 & it doesn’t work.
I greatly appreciate your help.

Replied by LA Color Pros Trisha, I'm using Encore CS5. However, we start using this method since CS3. Only the BluRay Popup Menu is not supported in Encore CS3.
In Step 6, it's to make a copy of the entire folder containing the Encore project .ncor file. We always create a new folder when creating a new project in Encore.
In Step 7, I'm not sure if the same short cut is available in CS3. You can select each video file then go to File, Replace Asset.
I'm sorry I don't have CS3 installed now. Hope it helps.
Posted by Jesse Garrison at Shakewell Studios on 11/9/2011 10:41:00 PM @ Christian or LA Color Pros: What if you use Final Cut Pro? Can I export as a QT Movie then bring into Encore and only lose one generation of quality or will I lose two?

Replied by LA Color Pros That would be two generations lost. First export to QT Movie, then Encore will transcode to MPEG-2 format.
Posted by Nancy Fleming on 7/29/2012 10:25:00 AM Hi Taky, it's almost a year later. Have you modified any of the above workflow for any reason? Have you gone to CS6? thanks! Nancy

Replied by LA Color Pros Hi Nancy, I have been using this workflow since 2005 for DVD. Now with BluRay and DVD since 2007. It's great. Lots of extra encoding but they are done by a separate computer which won't affect our main editing station.
Still on CS5. Adobe released new version too quickly. Have to be very rich to catch up :)
Posted by Elicia on 7/31/2012 6:33:00 PM Hi LA Color Pros.
Thanks for your hits and tips on using Encore. I was just wondering if you had ever come across jumping or jittering video files in your DVDs that you had produced in Encore. We have been importing Mp4 files into encore for DVD rendering. But when we view the Video / DVDs back there is a slight jitter or bouncing up and down motion in the video playback. This motion is not present in the video content before it is imported into Encore. Have you ever experienced this. Thanks in advance for your help.

Replied by LA Color Pros Elicia, you are doing it wrong. DVD doesn't support MP4 codec. It has to be DVD compliant MPEG-2 file. When you load MP4 into Encore, Encore will transcode it to MPEG2. It add much longer time to the entire build process.
So what you need to do is to use Adobe Media Encore to export to MPEG-2 DVD format. Then import to Encore. In that case, Encore will just use the same exact file you imported.
Posted by Jose Salinas on 10/1/2012 3:08:00 AM How do You set up the second computer to do de Encoding while You use the first one to do the Editing?
thanks in advance

Replied by LA Color Pros Jose, yes we have a second computer as Encoding station for that purpose. H.264 encoding is time consuming. We made 4 versions of each clip thus causing 4 times more the time needed. Thus, a dedicated computer is needed to follow this workflow.
Posted by Jose on 10/1/2012 9:32:00 PM I have two similar computers running Windows 7 64b and both have Adobe cs5 premium. do I just network them to the same router, share the hard drive where I save the Premiere projects and run media encoder from one pc while I keep editing on the other?
is that how it's done!!!!

Replied by LA Color Pros You got it! Just network both computers. Your intermediate files (the version generated in Premiere) is best to be on a network shared drive, or in the encoding machines. It is because it takes longer time to encode. So when you are done work for that night, you can turn off the main computer and leave the encoding computer running while you rest :)
Posted by Russell Tafarella on 1/26/2013 2:08:00 PM Hey Guys, I'm using Encore as well. Is there any way to have a Blu Ray Disc include non blu ray (mpeg 2-dvd) timelines within it. Basically I have a main feature that is HD blu ray but then behind the scenes stuff that is not hd blu ray. I keep getting errors when trying to build the Blu ray when this is the case.

Replied by LA Color Pros Russell, what I would suggest is, to encode everything in BluRay. But then, you can encode your main feature at 1080p higher data rate. Then for those behind the scenes chapter, encode them in 720p or even 420p to save space. You still author the entire output as BluRay within Encore.
Posted by mal2moh on 1/26/2014 4:09:00 PM hi
thank for this tip.
i need to create 2 dvd from 1 project with 2h.
please help for this.
thanks alot.
Posted by Brian Siano on 6/2/2014 9:16:00 PM I'm using CS5, and I have a DVD project that could use this advice. If I follow the process, it goes as:
1) in PP, Export sequence to an AVI file.
2) Re-encode that AVI file into MPEG-2 files of differing bitrates.
3) Import the MPEG-2 files into Encore and use the ones that fit best.
If I already know what quality I want to use, would it work more quickly to simply export from PP as an MPEG-2 file? And how do you handle the chapter stops-- do you manually enter them into Encore?

Replied by LA Color Pros For our weddings, we always need to fit 2 to 3 hours video on to a DVD. That's why we need to go through this process. If your final video is less than 1 hour, you just export from Premiere using MPEG-2 DVD preset with the highest quality. That shall also preserve your chapter marks from timeline.
Posted by Brian Siano on 6/2/2014 9:27:00 PM Thanks. My project's actually two hour play, plus extras, for a dual-layer DVD. Right now, however, I'm concerned about the rendering times: reducing 720p footage to NTSC standards takes a LOOOOONG time.

Replied by LA Color Pros I would suggest not to do Dual-layer DVD. It has many problems with many older set top DVD players. You don't want to keep getting calls from different clients complaining they can't view the video.
A single layer DVD can fit up to 4 hours of video. So your 2 hours project will fit.
Encoding to MPEG-2 DVD shouldn't take long time.
Posted by Brian Siano on 6/2/2014 9:32:00 PM I'll try it both ways: if I can fit the project onto a single layer, I'll do that.
But this reminded me of a bigger question. Does PP work faster when editing AVI files? I usually shoot with AVHCD, and that format requires a lot of processor decompression to simply play back. If I were to start converting my raw files to AVI, and editing those, would that speed up the playback in PP?
(These days, I shoot 1080p, but I create 720p duplicates for editing. I get barely enough of a speed boost that way. Would creating AVi duplicates work better?)
Posted by Manny Pellot on 11/11/2014 12:53:00 PM Does this scenario holds true today or is there a new tip for transcoding in Encore. Does Encore CS6 offer better options? I have a project in PPro CS5 that's 1920x1080(1.0) and 30fps and want to keep it that way.

Replied by LA Color Pros It's always best not to let Encore do any transcoding as it significantly increase the amount of time to build the disk image.
Also DVD-Video is standard definition (720x480). Can't change that. Only BluRay allows you to retain the 1080p30 format.
Posted by Bryan on 11/11/2014 11:51:00 PM Thanks for putting your workflow up here! I recently updated my iOS and ran into tons of trouble with encore. I had to partition my hard drive (to essentially have two computers) and then buy an old version of iOS lion so that I can still run encore. After a few changes in my workflow, I am now able to burn DVDs. However, my bluray workflow no longer works and I can't figure out why. I've had it with Encore and want a better solution for both blu rays and DVDs, but there doesn't seem to be any currently supported professional authoring software. What exact settings in AME do you use so that encore doesn't need to ("Don't Transcode") encode your HD files? Thanks for your help!

Replied by LA Color Pros If you select the MPEG-2 DVD preset, or H.264 BluRay preset from AME, the files imported to Encore will automatically shown as "Don't Transcode". It isn't a setting in Encore. It's an indicator showing if the imported files are DVD or BluRay compliant.
Posted by Bryan on 11/13/2014 10:47:00 AM If only it were that simple - those presets don't show up for me in encore as "don't transcode." I'm having the same issue as reported here:
What is your project setting for Blu ray auto transcode speed set at? (Default is 15 mb/s). It was my thought that this wouldn't matter, since the files shouldn't transcode at all, but I'm not sure. Appreciate your help!

Replied by LA Color Pros The link you specified above indcoated it's a bug in Premiere 7.1. If you aren't using that version, it shouldn't be the case.
Otherwise I would suggest using a lower but rate other than 30mbps. Many Bluray players can't handle over 28mbps anyway.
The methods I am using here encode the same file to four different bit rate. Once in a while I experienced an "Untranscoded", I would just pick the file in a different bit rate re.
Posted by Bryan on 11/13/2014 6:16:00 PM Thanks so much for your reply! I'll try the same settings (preset), but with a lower bitrate. It's weird that, as you say, sometimes it will take (not require transcoding) and sometimes it won't - all with the same settings. I've read that on additional threads, as well. I guess that's another benefit of your method of exporting several different versions of the same files. Thanks for your help!
Posted by Valerie Draves on 9/11/2015 12:06:00 PM I would like Encore to create the chapter submenus automatically. When authoring DVD I use the option "Create Chapter" index. Do I use the same option for Bluray, or do I need to use "Create Multipage Chapter Index".
Also can you confirm if I should build the Bluray as bluray image or bluray folder. I use imgBurn to burn the disc.
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