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Adobe Encore

Encore is our favourite DVD/Blu-ray authoring program - it can do nearly everything you want in a disc - different audio tracks, subtitles, and slideshows.  With version 3 Adobe added Blu-ray authoring and export to Flash to create interactive web presentations.  With CS5 Adobe added Blu-ray specific features like multiple pop-up menus.

Encore CS6 is the last version of Encore and is a 64bit program which means it can take advantage of as much RAM as you have in your computer and multi-core processors. This is very useful when making large, complicated HD discs.

What is the future of Encore?

Adobe have said that CS6 will be the last version of Encore. If you subscribe to the Creative Cloud version of Premiere Pro you will be able to install and use Encore CS6 as well. It will just never be updated. This should not be a problem because it works and does the job for which it was designed. There may come a time when Encore does not work on an updated operating system - either a new version of Windows or an Apple OS update. Windows 10 appears to work with Encore so this is not an immediate problem. However, it may be at some point in the future.  At that time the only alternative would be to look for another authoring program.  Adobe's point of view is that by the time that happens we will not be making Blu-ray or DVD discs any more anyway.

Since Encore has stopped at CS6 the dynamic link mentioned below between Premiere Pro CS6 and Encore CS6 no longer works with Premiere Pro CC.  To get assets into Encore from Premiere you have to export them as files and import them to Encore.  If you do it in the correct way Encore chapter points created in Premiere can still be carried across to Encore.

Adobe Integration

Encore integrates with other Adobe programs - right click on a menu and edit in Photoshop and you can customise your menu to your hearts content. If you want a video menu then use the dynamic link with After Effects to create a fancy background. With both of these any changes you make in Photoshop or After Effects are seen immediately in Encore.

The link with Premiere Pro CS6 is incredibly useful.  Now you send a timeline from Premiere Pro to Encore and it creates a link between the two.  Then when you update the timeline in Premiere whatever changes you make, including changing the chapter points on the Premiere timeline, are updated in Encore.  With previous versions you would have to select export, then encode the video (a time consuming process) then launch Encore.  If you made a mistake in editing then you would have to adjust the timeline in Premiere, re-encode and then re-author the DVD.  Now you make the change in Premiere and Encore changes, chapter points move to new locations etc... Premiere and Encore act like one program. You can also have several timelines from Premiere in one Encore project and Encore will sort out all the MPEG settings so they all fit on the disc for you at maximum quality.   With CS6 you can just select several timelines in the Premiere bin and drag them to Encore - it could not be easier.

Encore Interface

The main screen of Encore contains lots of windows - just like all other Adobe programs.  It is actually easy to get to grips with once you know the program and the windows all make sense.  The interface is a bit like Adobe Premiere - there is a project window which shows you all the clips you are using (or assets as they are called in DVD writing); this can be split to just show menus or just show timelines.  There is a timeline which shows you the video clips and any subtitles, audio tracks and chapters. 

The monitor window will show the video, and the menu window show the menu. 

Then there are windows which allow you to customise text or browse the pre-made menus and buttons. 

The properties window is the main one you will use all the time as this is where you link buttons, decide what happens when a clips stops, or turn still buttons into moving ones.

Features of Encore CS6

Encore lets you make DVDs with 32 subtitles, 8 audio tracks, complex navigation, slideshows, in fact nearly everything you want to do on a disc. Sony DVD Architect does a little bit more - it supports scripting and different video angles - but Encore does do nearly everything you want.

For Blu-ray discs Encore supports multiple pop-up menus (menus that appear over the movie as you watch), which Architect does not.

Encore has the same kind of dockable interface that all the Adobe programs share and Adobe have tried to use the same keyboard shortcuts as other programs - for example the * key adds markers in Premiere and Chapters in encore. It also uses the Premiere engine for playing back video and can take in video of different sizes and types.

BACKGROUND ENCODING

Encore will encode footage in the background while you author the disc and then then finish off any un-created files when you press the build button.

Slide show editor -

Encores slideshow editing is lovely - just drag in all the pictures you want to use as a slideshow, add transitions between the shots and a nice pan which can be customised per slide or just tick the random pan and zoom so each slide is subtly different. Bring in some backing music as well and on tick makes the slideshow match the duration of the music.

Chapter play lists

Playlists are available in most DVD authoring programs, where you make a list of several clips and the order they should play, but most playlists will play from a specific chapter right to the end of the clips - so if you selected chapter 2 it would play from chapter 2 to the very end of the clip - it would not just play from chapter 2 to chapter 3. With Encores chapter playlists you can now choose to just play one chapter from a title - then jump to another chapter in the same title, or, another chapter in another title. How seamless this is will depend on your DVD player.

Flow chart view

Encore has a great flow chart view which makes laying out your DVD quick and easy. Just drag from one clip or menu button to another to lay out your disc. This is a brilliant way to layout a disc, from simple to mega complex DVDs.  This was introduced in Encore 2, but we did not start actively using it until Encore 3 - now we use it all the time as it is quick and most of the time you will get your DVD layout out correctly as well.

Audio - Dolby Digital and Surround Sound

Encore can take in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound files and use them in projects.  If can take any stereo audio clip and make it into a stereo Dolby Digital file, which is the standard and best format for DVDs.  It does not do 5.1 Surround sound encoding - if you add a 5.1 WAV file it will be down-mixed to STEREO when encoding or if you dynamically link a 5.1 Premiere Pro timeline it will also be mixed down to STEREO

To use 5.1 audio in Encore you need to make your 5.1 mix in a different program - for example, Premiere Pro can mix a 5.1 soundtrack for you and will output the right kind of file if you buy an extra plug-in from Surrcode to do so, which costs approx 200.  Alternatively you could mix in a different program like Sony Vegas and output a 5.1 file, or make a 5.1 file with Grass Valley EDIUS (which will make a 5.1 audio file but will not let you mix it) and use this.

More royalty free menus and media

There is no better way of making a really nice looking menu than stealing someone elses. Encore has lots of video and still backgrounds to choose from - our tutorial DVDs are all authored in Encore and the menus started life as Encore stock footage!  Once you take one of these templates you can customise it as much as you like, particularly if you have Photoshop as well.  Some menus even have "drop zones".  On the example here the bride picture can be replaced just by dropping in another picture.  The new picture will inherit the properties of the old one - so in this case will have a fuzzy board, an oval vinaigrettes and will be sepia toned.

Blu-ray writing

Blu-ray supports 3 main video formats, MPEG2, H264 and VC1, and can be laid out either like a normal DVD, or with fancier java based menus which pop up over the video and can change things like the audio while the video is playing in the background. Encore does not support all of this but does support authoring in MPEG2 and H264, as well as using the full range of features available for normal DVDs in a Blu-ray disc, so you can do Blu-ray discs with subtitles (added in CS4), different audio tracks and slideshows.

Pop-up menus

Commercial Blu-ray discs have menus which pop up over the video when playing. Encore lets you do multiple layers of pop-up menu just like commercial Blu-ray discs These are just normal menus with a transparent background which you link to a particular video track or tracks.  Encore is the only program at this kind of price which can do any kind of pop-up menu.

Encore only supports burning to single layer 25GB Blu-ray discs,  or 50GB dual layer discs. Some programs let you make a Blu-ray style disc on a dual layer DVD; Encore does not do this however we do not think it is a great loss.  For a start Black Blu-ray discs do not cost much more than a single layer printable Blu-ray disc these days, and they are also a lot less compatible with Blu-ray players than a proper Blu-ray disc.

Make a Blu-ray then make a DVD

With CS6 you can layout a Blu-ray disc, write it, and then change a setting to output it as a standard DVD and encore will simply remake the HD footage into standard def footage.  This feature was in earlier versions but the SD versions never came out very well. In CS6 this works as long as you use the Adobe dynamic link with Premiere Pro.  It still has problems with some formats if loaded directly into Encore however.

Premiere Pro itself will do better downscaling from HD to SD than Encore thanks to the graphic card powering the MERCURY PLAYBACK ENGINE. Therefore you may still decide to export an SD clip from Premiere and load this separately into Encore rather than make Encore do the downsizing.

Export to Flash

Encore can take and entire DVD or Blu-ray and export it to Flash. So without any real knowledge of Flash or web formats you can now produce an interactive video using Encore. It does everything including making a web page with all the required links.

To choose this option just lay out the disc as normal and choose export to Flash.  When we produced most of our recent tutorials using this feature and they have proved the most popular versions - so much so that future tutorials will be FLASH-based ONLY.  The tutorials are all 720P HD and the screen looks exactly the same as it does when you are using the program.  Because they are encoded to H264 FLASH we can get 4-5 hours on one single layer DVD.

To play the Flash version you just put the disc in your computer and then access the start page (the index.html page) like you would any web page via your web browser.  With some browsers this asks a standard security question and then works, with other it  just works.   The only thing we add to our tutorials was an auto play function, so it would load automatically when inserted in the DVD player in your computer.  The rest was created in Encore with no extra effort.

Encore also creates a search function as part of the FLASH output.  Just click on the little magnifying glass and type some words and Encore will find any chapter points that contain those words.  All created for us with absolutely no knowledge of Flash at all!

New Flash options

Adobe have added new options to the Flash Encoding of Encore.  This is where it will take a laid out DVD or Blu-ray disc and encode it to Sd or HD flash files for inclusion on the web or an intranet.  We use the Flash side of Encore to make the Flash version of our Encore and Premiere Pro training DVDs. 

Now this will add an automatic search box so that the user can type in a word and the player will find that word somewhere in the video it is play - as an example in our tutorial there are several chapters, all named as part of the Encore project.  You type in the phrase you are searching for and the player displays all the chapters with those words included. 

Anyone who has bought the Flash version of our Premiere Pro tutorial can try this out as this disc was made with Encore.

Project checking

Once you have finished the disc you have to burn it.  Before you do Encore will load the project checker and tell you if there is anything wrong with the disc - menu buttons not linked, buttons over lapping, assets not used.  It will tell you everything that is wrong with your disc - about the only things it will not tell you is whether you have linked up the button to the correct part of the timeline, or whether the chapter names are spelt correctly..

Playback via hardware

ENCORE can preview the disc using the Adobe Mercury Transmit engine - the same way that Premiere will preview projects. This means it will preview to a second screen or a FireWire device, or using a Black Magic, AJA or Matrox capture card.

MAC and PC

Like all Adobe's programs Encore works on Mac as well as PC - in fact it is the only decent Blu-ray authoring program on the MAC.

Steve Jobs, who used to be charge of Apple, one said that Blu-ray is "a house of pain"; Apple never added Blu-ray writing to their DVD program, DVD Studio Pro(the entire program has now been discontinued) and with Final Cut Pro X they have added the ability to make Blu-ray discs but only using very simple wizard-type menus.

You can happily edit in another program, like Final Cut or Avid Media Composer on the Mac and load the clips into Encore for authoring.  The only problem will be that Macs do not come with Blu-ray writers so you will either need to buy an external writer that will work on the Mac or write and image file and then move this to a PC for writing.

What other programs are available for DVD and Blu-ray authoring?

The best comparable program is Sony's DVD Architect which comes withSony Vegas.  Architect can do most of the things encore can do for Blu-ray discs with the exception of pop-up menus.  It also has a few advantages - to read more about Architectclick here.

The other program available is AVID DVD This is a very capable Blu-ray program although Encore has more features. Avid DVD used to be available on its own as DVDit Pro but this is no longer available so you can only get it by buying Avid Media Composer - which is 1,700. Given that Encore is better in many ways it would be silly to buy Media Composer instead of Encore just to get Avid DVD!

Whats Good

  • Intuitive - Encore is pretty easy to get to grips with, and once you understand the internal logic you will be able to make discs easily. 
  • As it is an Adobe program it follows the same logic as all other Adobe programs - for example the character palette which controls how your text has the same controls as Premiere, Photoshop and After Effects.
  • Great control over video compression - you choose which assets are compressed and what settings are used for each and then leave the rest on automatic and Encore will make sure your DVD always fits the disc.
  • The only program which makes proper Blu-ray pop up menus (at a reasonable price).
  • You can make FLASH based discs as well an upload to a website for people to view on-line without any knowledge of FLASH.
  • You can configure nearly everything - chose what button is selected when you reach a menu, which audio track or subtitle is chose very easily.
  • The link with Photoshop is brilliant for custom made menus. All good programs have a way of making menus from Photoshop files - unsurprisingly Encore is the best!
  • Flowchart view makes laying out complex discs easily.
  • 2 pass variable bit rate MPEG encoder from Main Concept guarantees excellent MPEG quality.
  • Encodes audio into uncompressed, MPEG or Dolby Digital. Will accept 5.1 surround sound AC-3 but cannot make it. Unlike Premiere Pro you do not have to buy an extra plug-in to encode to AC-3.
  • Includes region encoding, Macrovision and dual layer support (all will not work with standard DVD-R discs, but you can produce an image to be sent off for professional duplication)

Whats Bad

  • You can only buy it in a bundle with Adobe Premiere Pro so if you are not planning to edit with Premiere it is reasonably expensive.
  • Does not do everything you need for a DVD - some people lament its lack of proper scripting, which you would find in Sony DVD Architect. It does do most of what most people want however.
  • It is not being developed any more. This does not stop Encore doing what it does but means not new features will be added and if it fails to work properly with Windows 10 (due next year) or a new Mac OS, Adobe will not "fix" it.

Adobe Encore CS6 tutorial

Price:32.50  +VAT  (39.00 Inc. VAT at 20%)

{DVC Encore CS6 tutorial}

Adobe Encore CS6 tutorialThe Encore CS6 tutorial is available now. You can order it by post by clicking the add to cart button immediately below, or chan choose to order a download version, by selecting the item below.

You can see a full contents list for the disc at the bottom of this page. The tutorial last for over 5 hours and covers every aspect of Encore CS6 in depth. The tutorial was completely created using Encore CS6, although most of the topics covered are relevant to CS4 & CS5.

You can also buy the tutorial in a bundle with our Premiere Pro CS6 tutorial.

Disc Contents

The tutorial is divided into several sections to help you locate the information in which you are interested.  If learning Encore from scratch we suggest you watch the A Basic Introduction to Encore first as it shows the entire authoring process as well as covering all the main options; The second part to watch would be the Tour of Adobe Encore which explains what all the windows do and how to arrange them. With the other sections we suggest you look at the chapters when needed.

A full list of all the chapters in each section and the timings is presented on each of the tabs listed here.


{Is this tutorial relevant to the Creative Cloud?}

Is this tutorial relevant to the Creative Cloud version of Encore?

The simple answer is YES.  There is no Encore CC so if you are renting the Adobe software via the cloud you will be using Encore CS6 which is the version covered in this tutorial.  The chapters regarding the dynamic link between Encore and Premiere Pro are no longer relevant because you do not get the dynamic link between Premiere Pro CC and Encore CS6.  The link still exists between Premiere Pro CS6 and Encore CS6, both of which can be downloaded from the Cloud, but we suspect that if you are using the Creative Cloud you will also be using the latest version of Premiere Pro. 

However all the other information contained in our Encore tutorial, including details of how to edit menus in Photoshop etc.. is all 100% relevant to the Creative Cloud version.


{A Basic Introduction}

A BASIC INTRODUCTION TO ADOBE ENCORE CS6

  • Basic Introduction to Encore - 3.32 min.
  • Importing footage - 2.36 min.
  • Adding Chapters and Menus - 3.36 min.
  • Linking the menu buttons - 4.31 min.
  • Customising the menu - 3.02 min.
  • Preview the disc - 3.09 min.
  • Building the disc - 5.20 min.

{A Tour of Encore}

A TOUR ADOBE ENCORE CS6

  • A tour of Encore - 3.14 min.
  • Default Blu-ray settings - 7.31 min.
  • Change the project settings -  39 min.
  • Re-arranging the windows  - 4.58 min.
  • All the different windows  - 5.12 min.
  • The project window  - 5.01 min.
  • Sifting clips in the window - 1.52 min.

{Menus}

MENUS IN ADOBE ENCORE CS6

  • The basics - 3.36 min.
  • Add a chapter button - 2.45 min.
  • Changing the background  - 2.36 min.
  • Menu properties - 4.44 min.
  • Highlights - 6.54 min.
  • Making buttons - 3.10 min.
  • Editing highlights in Photoshop - 3.06 min.
  • Making a menu from scratch in Photoshop - 3.52 min.
  • Arranging buttons - 3.22 min.
  • Using the right arrow for the right job - 7.52 min.
  • Select lots of items and change attributes  -1.59 min.
  • Default menu and default button - 3.00 min.
  • Motion menus - 5.00 min.
  • Loop point - 2.15 min.
  • Loop point and transitions - 7.43 min.
  • Button routing - 5.29 min.
  • The library - Making your own sections - 4.32 min.
  • Override - 2.31 min.
  • Create chapter index min.
  • Blu-ray pop menus - 3.26 min.
  • Customising a pop up menu - 2.02 min.
  • Multipage pop up menus - 2.43 min.
  • Multipage normal menus - 3.08 min.

{Flash discs}

MAKING FLASH DISCS WITH ENCORE

  • The basics of making FLASH discs - 5.47 min.
  • Specific settings for FLASH discs - 36 min.
  • Build options - 4.04 min.
  • Making your own quality presets - 7.20 min.
  • What are the best encoding settings - 5.08 min.
  • Max quality and use previews - 4.18 min.
  • The final results -1.12 min.

{Slideshows}

FLOWCHART AND SLIDESHOWS

  • Using the flowchart - 3.45 min.
  • End actions and more - 4.45 min.
  • slideshows - 3.50 min.
  • Preview with a Black Magic device - 5.40 min.

{The Dynamic Link}

THE DYNAMIC LINK

  • The dynamic link with Adobe Premiere Pro - 6.06 min.
  • Importing multiple Premiere Pro sequences - 1.30 min.
  • Why use the Dynamic link? - 2.22 min.
  • What's bad about the dynamic link? - 1.50 min.

{The Timeline}

THE TIMELINE

  • The basics - 1.57 min.
  • Loading clips and conforming - 2.48 min.
  • What is audio conforming - 2.22 min.
  • Interpret footage - 1.31 min.
  • Making a timeline - 2.35 min.
  • Trimming down the project list - 1.46 min.
  • Adding chapters - 2.29 min.
  • Naming chapters - 4.33 min.
  • Set poster frame - 2.54 min.
  • End actions & other properties - 3.31 min.
  • Different audio tracks - 2.48 min.
  • Regular playlists - 5.44 min.
  • Chapter play lists - 4.25 min.

{HD to SD}

HIGH DEFINITION TO STANDARD DEFINITION

  • HD to SD - 3.24 min.
  • What's the best way to get maximum quality? - 3.42 min.
  • Downscaling in Premiere Pro - 5.46 min.
  • Are there better ways of downscaling? - 2.18 min.

{How I made this tutorial}

HOW I MADE THIS TUTORIAL

  • Brining in the footage -  3.44 min.
  • Add menus - 5.59 min.
  • Customising the menus a bit more - 3.52 min.
  • Check the button routing - 3.33 min.
  • Linkup all the main buttons - 2.11 min.
  • A different way to make the playlist - 2.41 min.
  • Preview and Build. - 2.03 min.

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