**WARNING** to any professional users of DVD Arc!!

Lyris wrote on 1/13/2009, 1:24 AM
Hey everyone,

Just thought I would sound the alarm here. In the past I have used Sony DVD Architect to author a commercial DVD title from a small studio.

I used an outside MPEG-2 encoder and the Sony Vegas AC3 encoder, and brought the files into DVD Architect. After this, the files were sent to a professional DVD replication facility and were turned into "Real" silver, pressed DVDs, just like you'd buy in a store.

Just before the release date, we discovered that at one point in the film, playback would freeze up on select older DVD players. On other affected players, playback would freeze momentarily and skip past the affected area. To ensure customers weren't frustrated, we re-encoded and re-authored the disc with more thorough testing, and paid to have it replicated again.

This solved the freezing issue on these previously affected players, but then we got reports that the second, redone version was stuttering and behaving erratically on some NEW Toshiba DVD (and HD DVD) players - in other words, compatibility was actually worse than before! Utterly baffled but at least grateful that most players were capable of a successful playthrough, and the budget already spent on the first repressing, we had no choice but to continue.

In the mean time, we have changed the MPEG-2 encoder, which we thought would solve the problem. It did not. Just yesterday, we traced the problem back to DVD Architect. That's right: we created a test disc in DVD Architect Pro 5 and a friend's copy of DVD Studio Pro on the Mac, using the *EXACT SAME* source files to build each disc, without re-rendering in both cases. The DVD Architect authored discs stuttered and froze; the DVD Studio Pro ones played through flawlessly.

So, what changed? Why did the redone version - which was encoded at a modest bit rate of around 7.5mbps, by the way - play WORSE than the old one?

Here's what changed. Sony upgraded DVD Architect Pro to version 5. By the looks of it, they have introduced some sort of multiplexing/disc building bug in the process.

To say that I'm disgusted is putting it lightly. Yes, bugs happen, and although I'm sure Sony have no legal responsibility whatsoever in this (the terms and conditions will surely set that out), we're now out of pocket for repressing *AND* buying a new authoring program. At the same time, I'm not too surprised that DVD Architect is the culprit... after all, Sony Creative Software seems to have been releasing an awful lot of botched Vegas updates lately.

Let me just re-iterate here: these results are from real, pressed discs AND recordable DVD-Rs. The media type is NOT the problem. There is something screwy with the way DVD Architect is building discs.

I love, love, love Sony Vegas and up until lately I loved DVD Architect's clean interface and easy subtitling capabilities too. But I'm afraid that this has been the final straw, and I can no longer trust the program and let it put my reputation as a DVD author on the line. I'm very disappointed and would love to have some sort of official acknowledgment from Sony, but who am I kidding.


ECB wrote on 1/13/2009, 5:47 AM
I assume the replication house ran the Eclipse verifiier, or equivalent. Did the verifier show any playability issues?

TheHappyFriar wrote on 1/13/2009, 6:32 AM
So you, just to make sure it's DVDA5, used 4.5 to double check? I never bothered to use 5 & have no complaints (I don't press though, just burn).
Lyris wrote on 1/13/2009, 9:53 AM
Apparently they did not verify; a gaffe which was out of my hands sadly. I'll ask them to make sure.

I'm now a user of DVDAfterEdit on the Mac. I'm going to try after-editing the files DVD Architect creates and will see if that fixes any playability issues, but I doubt it as most of this stuff is related to navigation commands... if there's a problem with DVD Architect's multiplexing, it's beyond repair...
Lyris wrote on 1/13/2009, 9:53 AM
I'm going to recheck with 4.5 also to help narrow the problem down.
TheHappyFriar wrote on 1/13/2009, 10:13 AM
I'm asking about 4.5 because I had issues with 5 for SD DVD's, so I went back to 4.5 (projects ARE backwards compatible with 4.5) to see what the issues were, and everything worked. So I made the decision since I don't need BD to not use DVDA5.
Action wrote on 1/14/2009, 9:03 PM
I'm surprised the rep facility didn't raise some sort of alarm at some stage of their production. Even to asking how you mastered the project, even knowing about this forum and version 5A

If you haven't burnt any bridges it might be worth talking with the manager and explaining the situation. They must have had similar in the past and any outfit can't afford negative publicity, in fact it can be reversed and used to their good if they come to the party. Good luck.

PeterWright wrote on 1/15/2009, 3:13 AM
One point I'd like to clarify - you mentioned using an outside MPEG encoder - have you tried rendering with a DVDA template in Vegas?
Lyris wrote on 1/15/2009, 10:12 AM
I've not used the internal MainConcept-based encoder because I didn't feel the quality was good enough. But this is a good point. If the situation is the same with Sony's own encoder and an all-Vegas workflow, it's going to be even more embarrassing.

The encoders I used were TMPGenc (not very well known in the pro world, but has astonishing quality) and Cinema Craft SP2 (which is the gold standard amongst professional software encoders).

I should add though, that I won't be able to do any more tests for a while. Right now I'm tied up redoing the entire authoring with DVD Studio Pro and DVD After Edit. Farewell Sony.
Thomas Video wrote on 1/15/2009, 12:59 PM
This statement really makes me worry.
I just bought the Vegas8/DVDA5 some month ago because it was suggested to me, as a tool to make complex interactive DVDs with ease.
Until now I was fully happy: Its soul purpose was to build up a DVD with more than 50 Videos, Subtitles, languages (all encoded with Sony Vegas Main Concept) …. This DVD should go to mass production of several thousand pressed DVDs within the next weeks.
Now I see this message! And I don’t know if I can sleep tonight.
I have two questions:
- Was this playability issue only visible on the pressed discs, or was it already visible on a burned “preview” DVD. My burned “preview” DVDs run perfectly on all tested DVD players. Can this still mean that a professionally reproduced pressed DVDs may not run perfectly?
- Is there any official comment from Sony on this issue?

Thanks for any information!
musicvid10 wrote on 1/15/2009, 1:11 PM
Oh wow, there are a lot of variables here that have not been addressed, so many that I can't see how one could implicate DVDA in the error you encountered:

1) The make and type of disc. Discs contain errors. Some more than others. Replicating a disc that contains lots of errors will create more errors.
2) It appears the disc that was submitted was a burned DVD. If so, why? Professional replicators generally need a master file or at the very least an .iso
3) Was a backup copy for comparison provided?
4) Outside MPEG2 encoder? Which one? What settings?
5) If the disc played fine, why is it DVDA's fault if the next generation didn't? I fail to see the connection.
6) Why wasn't the pressed disc verified? Hardly sounds "professional."

Until these and a few other variables are addressed and / or ruled out, this "Warning!" may be little more than a tempest in a teapot.
Lyris wrote on 1/15/2009, 2:08 PM
"- Was this playability issue only visible on the pressed discs, or was it already visible on a burned “preview” DVD. My burned “preview” DVDs run perfectly on all tested DVD players. Can this still mean that a professionally reproduced pressed DVDs may not run perfectly?"

Again, the issue was there *regardless* of the media type. The same problems existed on DVD-R and commercial replicated disc. It did not happen on all players, though, please remember that.

The players we know for a fact were affected: Toshiba HD-A2, and Toshiba SD-3109. Can any forum users try their DVD Architect-made discs on these players?

I've not contacted Sony yet. I'm too busy working to reauthor the disc in another program to meet the deadline!

Thomas Video: you might want to consider contacting Trai Forrester at www.dvdverification.com if you want ultimate peace of mind on your project. If you're not sleeping at night, you won't be after reading his site, but it's required reading: there are a lot of potential issues with DVD authoring, especially when you're using an abstraction layer program like DVD Architect or DVD Studio Pro and not "reauthoring" afterwards.

I've answered a lot of the question you've asked in my previous posts - please re-read them and then this:

To track down the problem, we encoded a series of files using different MPEG2 encoders, different settings, and then authored them with DVD Architect and DVD Studio Pro, and played them on the affected players. The EXACT same, already-rendered source files were used in both cases, and the disc authored with DVD Architect stuttered and froze - but the one made with DVD Studio Pro did not. Same source files, same program used to build the VIDEO_TS folder into an ISO image to send, same burners, same type of media in both cases. That, to me, certainly suggests something is not right on the DVD Architect side!

"5) If the disc played fine, why is it DVDA's fault if the next generation didn't? I fail to see the connection."

You are misunderstanding - please read what I've posted. The discs did *not* play fine, and it has nothing to do with generation. The problems are in the master generated by DVD Architect, so of course they are also in the discs made from it.

I agree with you that submitting on DVD-R and seemingly not verifying is unprofessional; but this part of the project was sadly out of my hands. Regardless, these are surely not the causes of the issue. If verification had occurred and the problem had been spotted earlier on, granted it would be less expensive to fix later - but that would do nothing to help DVD Architect's problem, which is what I'm posting about.

As for your question about the outside MPEG-2 encoder, which I've already partially answered: TMPGEnc and Cinema Craft SP2.

For the test disc we used to track the problem back to DVD Architect, we experimented with various GOP Structures in TMPGenc (a feature allowed by the DVD Video specification) to see if these would change the results. They did not. We used GOPs with I,P and B frames, GOPs with only I and P, GOPs with max lengths of 14 and 18 frames, and a variety of different bit rates from very low to very high. We also used VBR and CBR modes to test. The frame rate of the input video was 23.98fps, encoded with Progressive Frame Flags in order for the DVD player to add 3:2 pulldown upon playback.

Once again, let me reiterate this. ***NONE of the test files played through to the end in the version authored with DVD Architect. ALL of them played correctly when authored with DVD Studio Pro.***
musicvid10 wrote on 1/15/2009, 2:43 PM
OK, you addressed some of my questions. Sorry, but these old eyes have not been able to dig out the answers to my first three questions:

1) The make and type of disc.
2) It appears the disc that was submitted was a burned DVD. If so, why? Professional replicators generally need a master file or at the very least an .iso
This is important because 'ripping' from a burned DVD introduces its own errors.
3) Was a backup copy for comparison provided?

Why didn't you require silver proofs for testing before the run?
If you by chance used marginal or DL DVD-R media (which I cannot imagine), I'm not surprised that discs from different burning programs responded differently on different players.
Chienworks wrote on 1/15/2009, 2:56 PM
I think those three questions are moot, considering that it doesn't appear to be a replication issue at all.

The issue is firmly divided between DVDA authoring and DVD Studio Pro authoring. The issues show up before replication.
Lyris wrote on 1/15/2009, 3:10 PM
1) Verbatim DVD-R DLs, silver pressed discs replicated from a glass master produced by Sonopress/Arvato, and various other types of single layer DVD-R for test discs.

2) Agreed; I requested time and time again that the project would be submitted on DLT, and was reluctant to do so on DVD-R. You'll have to ask someone else why, but in this case it doesn't seem to be the cause of the issues. Regardless, this is not a replication issue. The fault was there to start with.

3) Yes.

And we did ask for check discs, but none of the players we tested on were sensitive to the issue. The discs play back just fine in many players: it's these two Toshibas that both react in the same way.

>>> "I'm not surprised that discs from different burning programs responded differently on different players."

They aren't from different burning programs: the images were built and burned from exactly the same programs. It's the *AUTHORING* programs that differed.

Chienworks puts it best.
musicvid10 wrote on 1/15/2009, 4:33 PM
If Kelly says my points are moot, then they are moot.

Apparently I am not seeing something here, but having recently had a few dozen discs professionally replicated from video authored and mastered in DVDA5, with absolutely no complaints on even the most vintage playback equipment, I suspect there is more going on here than I have been able to glean from your posts.

Just because I can't duplicate your issues (although I must say I have never taken a DVD-R to a replicator) doesn't mean they aren't real. I will be interested in hearing your outcome, but realize there is at least one of us for whom the the DVDA-centric author-master-replicate (or burn) workflow is working. Good luck!
plekkie wrote on 1/15/2009, 4:51 PM
I see you did suspect the MPEG-2 encoding as a possible cause in the beginning. Have you ever considered that the ac3 encoding could have caused your problems? I have experienced that some DVD players can suffer from exactly what you describe due to (wrong?) ac3 encoding: stuttering/stopping, and when you are able to skip some seconds, the DVD may play again. Funny enough I solved the problem by using the encoder in DVDA, at that time version 3.

Perhaps you could re-author without audio, to eliminate this potential cause. Of course it does not explain why only the DVD authored with DVDA5 has this problem, but it might point in some direction.
TheHappyFriar wrote on 1/15/2009, 6:30 PM
I'd still be interested to see if DVDA 4.5 has the same issues.
Lyris wrote on 1/15/2009, 9:25 PM
Plekkie: I did indeed consider the AC3 encoder (FWIW, it was done with Vegas' Dolby Digital Pro 2.0 preset at 192kbps, no settings changed). Of course, this same file was then imported into DVD Studio Pro and played back without problems. Had the DVD Studio Pro version not played correctly, I'd have blamed the AC3 encoder instead.

Even if this was the problem, Apple's Final Cut Studio 2 comes with Compressor as well, which can handle AC3. I don't trust Sony's product any more so I'll be re-converting all my original source .WAV files into AC3 using Compressor now - even although that didn't appear to be the problem.

MusicFan: can I ask what frame rate you used on your project? I assume it was NTSC (as was mine), but did it contain Film material (23.976fps with 3:2 pulldown being added in the player) or Video (29.970)? There is the possibility that this could affect it which we could take into consideration.

So we can better diagnose the issue, does anyone on the forum have access to a Toshiba HD-A2 player since we know this is both fairly recent and also affected?
TheHappyFriar wrote on 1/16/2009, 4:52 AM
the mpeg encoder is mainconcept, from what I always knew it has nothing to do with sony minus it's included with vegas. Could be an MC bug. IMHO, if something's working I wouldn't replace it, you could accidently add more issues

that player is a HD-DVD player, I don't even know where I can buy one, let alone find one. :/
farss wrote on 1/16/2009, 5:08 AM
There was (is?) a problem with DVDA authored disks and at least the Toshiba DVD / VHS combo units. Perhaps the same chip is used in these other units causing the same problem.

My understanding is that DVDA creates an audio stream for all menus regardless of whether one is needed or not. However the audio stream is unreferenced and this causes the Toshiba players to stop.

If this is the problem it's easy enough to correct. After preparing the DVD open it with PGCEdit. That'll report the unreferenced stream and ask if you'd like it removed. Click yes and save the update, check to see if this fixes the problem.

I fully understand your upset over this. I've had DVDs end up on the store shelves with hard to see probelms that SCS knew all along existed but failed to warn users about.
Lyris wrote on 1/16/2009, 7:51 AM
Good news, everyone. Sony have contacted me directly and I'll be sending them what they need to look into the issue.
ScorpioProd wrote on 1/19/2009, 10:46 PM
Please do post the final resolution of the problem when you hear back from them.

Lyris wrote on 1/23/2009, 6:38 PM
Thanks for the results John. I am finishing up this DVD project and will be sending Sony everything they need to look into the fault ASAP.

For anyone interested; GOPDiag.iso was the disc prepared with DVD Architect. GOPDiag_Mark2.iso was the same thing, done with DVD Studio Pro.

John, question: did both discs play correctly on the JVC HR-XVS44U?
Billae wrote on 1/27/2009, 12:00 PM
I am having similar issues. This is not good.