x264 gains Blu-ray capability
The developers of the x264 encoding library and tools have announced that the x264 library is now capable of generating Blu-ray compliant streams. The announcement says "Today we are taking the first step towards a free software Blu-ray creation toolkit" and explains that the latest commit to the x264 project includes the new capability to produce Blu-ray compatible streams. It details the particular functions, such as NAL-HRD compliance, full variable frame rate control and pulldown support, which were incorporated to make this possible. The developers also thanked The Criterion Collection for sponsoring the compliance testing of the enhancements.
To demonstrate the Blu-ray encoding capability, the developers have released a Blu-ray disc which can be downloaded (direct) through Bittorrent. The 2GB disc image, which contains the Open Movie Project's Creative Commons licensed Big Buck Bunny and Elephant's Dream films. The disc is burnable onto an ordinary DVD and playable as Blu-ray disc in most Blu-ray players. It also includes documentary footage with live action content provided by Microsoft under a "very liberal license". The developers say that the combination of a free encoder and the ability to play from low cost media brings them "one step closer to putting HD optical media creation in the hands of the everyday user".
x264 generated streams can be used with existing commercial Blu-ray authoring tools, but the developers still need to create a free software Blu-ray authoring tool to put the audio and video streams into Blu-ray file structures and to provide menus and chapters on disks. The developers feel though that the hardest part of the work has now been dealt with.