If you’re enough of an early adopter to have an HD camcorder as well as an HDTV and a set-top Blu-ray player, you’re probably itching to create high-definition discs from your footage and present them on your big HD screen.
Sure, you could just plug your camcorder into your TV and press Play, but then you’d miss out on all the great HD features that Blu-ray has to offer. I’ll show you how to trim and rearrange your clips, add chapter markers, and create an attractive Blu-ray disc navigation menu, just as you would for a standard-def DVD, as well as how to burn the discs for playback on your Blu-ray player.
You will need a fairly powerful PC to make use of such video apps, as Jon L. Jacobi’s “Play HD Movies on (Almost) Any PC” indicates. Surprisingly, however, you don’t necessarily need an actual Blu-ray recorder (which can cost upward of $600) to do the job. You can burn regular DVD discs in a high-def format–complete with Blu-ray menus–using a standard DVD recorder, as long as you don’t mind fitting substantially less footage onto a disc.
A 4.5GB DVD can hold about 20 to 30 minutes of high-def Blu-ray video, and a dual-layer 8.5GB disc can hold up to 45 minutes. Such discs can play in many set-top Blu-ray players (see “Playing It Back” later in this story for details). Which would you rather burn, a 25-cent DVD-R, or a $10 BD-R? The price goes up to an eye-popping $50 for a 50GB BD-RE (rewritable) disc with 4 hours of HD playing time. Since most home movies tend to be relatively short anyway, burning your HD videos onto standard DVD media on the drive you already have can be a pretty sweet deal.
Of course, if you’re creating an epic saga of your family’s vacation adventures, you’ll want a real Blu-ray burner such as the LaCie d2, which can record more than 4 hours of 1080i video from your HD camcorder to a single 50GB disc.
The editing and authoring tools for making true Blu-ray discs and Blu-ray-on-DVD discs are the same, so you can get started with the DVD recorder you have now and then upgrade to a Blu-ray recorder later, when prices for drives and media come down.