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Making 5.1 Blu-rays & tearing out hair

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David Dean
Making 5.1 Blu-rays & tearing out hair
on Mar 27, 2014 at 11:43:57 pm

Hi, everyone - for the past three days I've been trying to burn a 5.1 surround sound Blu-Ray. I think I'm doing the right things but it's not working at all.

I'm starting by exporting a 6-track Quicktime movie from FCP7. I've done the whole "audio outputs / discrete channels" deal and I do have a 140GB 1080p QT movie with six tracks. On the timeline, per our duplication house's directions, the tracks are laid out Left, Right, Center, LFE, Left Surround, Right Surround. So far so good.

It's when I get into Compressor 3.5.3 that I get hung up. I've had some success compressing and burning LTRT stereo BDs directly within Compressor, and the process is pretty simple: I open "New Batch From Template," choose "Create Blu-Ray," and then import the QT movie. The chapter markers are already there, and once I hit Submit, I get a disc in about twelve hours. (The video file, which is H.264, winds up being around 18GB.) But that's only for a two-track stereo version.

So when I hit "Create Blu-Ray" and bring in the 6-track movie, the Inspector does tell me that the QT movie I'm bringing in has six tracks. What it DOESN'T tell me is how they're placed. And here the Coding Menu for a 3/2 output (3 in front, 2 in back) reads L, C, R, Ls, Rs. (There's a checkbox for the Low Frequency track.) So I can't be sure that my track layout that I exported is going to match what Compressor is going to output. So that's part 1.

I then went back to FCP and individually exported each of the six tracks as AIFFs, and created a version of the video with no sound. Everything is identically in sync. Now I re-opened Compressor, hit "Create Blu-Ray," imported the silent video, deleted the "DVD Dolby Audio" tab (since I was going to be using Dolby Digital Professional 5.1 with the six tracks), and then hit "Add Surround Sound." Now I was able to place each of the tracks into the boxes, but as soon as I hit OK, I got a second window in the pane, not an audio file in the same one as the picture. TWO jobs, and I still have no idea how to merge them into a single job that will burn onto a Blu-Ray.

So I'm stuck and lost. Each attempt I'm trying is taking twelve to fourteen hours of processing, and there's no way I can know if anything's working until those hours are over. Basically: I have a six-track QT movie and I want it to be a six-track Blu-Ray. To my knowledge the QT is laid out correctly but I don't know if Compressor agrees. And I don't know how to manipulate the Inspector and the settings/target window to get the process going correctly. (And no, I don't have Adobe Encore and Toast 11's BD plug-in will also not merge an H.264 video and ac3 audio file -- they turn them into a two-file playlist.)

Thanks for your patience and understanding, in advance.

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Mark Spano
Re: Making 5.1 Blu-rays & tearing out hair
on Apr 15, 2014 at 8:29:16 pm

I do it similarly to you, but not in the same order, and it works.

Open Compressor 3.5.3
Clear any prompts or existing jobs
Click the button that says "Add Surround Sound"
Click each speaker icon and add the appropriate sound file
Click the button that says Add Video (within the Add Surround Sound dialog that's still open) and add your video
Now add your encoding presets to this job (H.264 for Blu-ray, 5.1 AC3 for audio)
Click on the item in the job window, and choose Job Action in the Inspector
Choose When job completes: Create Blu-ray Disc
Set your BD-R settings here (BD-R drive or Hard Drive (for image file))

This is the only way I've been able to get Compressor to recognize a surround job and also incorporate corresponding video.

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David Dean
Re: Making 5.1 Blu-rays & tearing out hair
on Apr 17, 2014 at 2:36:56 pm

Good heavens, Mark, I think it worked! I'm unfortunately not anywhere near a Blu-Ray player to test it, but there were absolutely no hiccups in the process at all. I actually did try your method earlier, but what apparently messed me up was the fact that I exported the six tracks as AIFFs, but the Quicktime VIDEO I tried to fold in was a version without sound (why would I want sound on the PICTURE if I had six surround tracks already in the batch?). And so when I tried to enter "Add Video," I got an error message saying "There is no audio on this file." Well, duh. So this time I dragged in the movie with a stereo mix, and it easily accepted it.

I'll let you know if it really did give me a surround mix (and just in time -- it has its world premiere at the Nashville Film Festival tomorrow night and I needed a backup just in case there's something amiss with the DCP). Seriously -- thank you so much for responding.

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