Q&A: Low-res movie on Blu-ray

Q I have been trying to burn some high-def movies to Blu-ray using Toast Titanium 11 Pro. All work fine except for one, which repeatedly ends up in standard definition. Why?

A Assuming that the original movie is in high-def, the most likely cause is that Toast is not transcoding it properly, somewhere in that process deciding that it should transcode to non-high-def.

The resolution of the original movie could be greater than 1920 x 1080, or 1280 x 720 according to frame rate, allowed for Blu-ray, forcing Toast to change resolution as well as transcode. During transcoding, it could be apparent that playing the movie will exceed the maximum bit rate of 36-40 Mbit/s, and that is forcing it to opt for lower definition; that appears unlikely.

The remaining possibility is that it is a bug in the transcoding process in Toast.

One way that you might be able to work around all these potential reasons is to open your movie in Final Cut Pro X, another editor, or Apple’s Compressor, and export it straight to Blu-ray format. Toast would then not need to do any transcoding.


Compressor lets you preview the effect of proposed compression on video.
Compressor lets you preview the effect of proposed compression on video.

Tools like Compressor are particularly useful when preparing movies for output like this. They allow you to convert batches of files, each of which you can preview to check that the output is correct. Then all you have to do is use Toast (or another app) to burn them to optical media.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 30 issue 09, 2014.