The developers of x.264, the open source version of the h.264 hi-def video codec used by YouTube and many others, have taken the first step towards building a free Blu-ray creation toolkit. They've been able to make the codec compliant with Blu-ray video.

And, with the latest update of x.264's compression talents, it is possible to fit an entire Blu-ray disc onto a dual- or, even, single-layer DVD-R with a "very reasonable level of quality".

This has urged the development team to start the process of creating free Blu-ray authoring tools, as the x.264 diary blog states: "For many years it has been possible to make your own DVDs with free software tools.  Over the course of the past decade, DVD creation evolved from the exclusive domain of the media publishing companies to something basically anyone could do on their home computer.

"But Blu-ray has yet to get that treatment.  Despite the “format war” between Blu-ray and HD DVD ending over 2 years ago, free software has lagged behind.  “Professional” tools for Blu-ray video encoding can cost as much as $100,000 and are often utter garbage".

Of course, it may take some time for the team to succeed in their aim to create a fully-fledged authoring suite, but, in the meantime, you can check out a demo of what is capable.

The x.264 team has created a Blu-ray disc image, encoded with x.264, and compressed to a mere 2GB (able to easily fit onto a single-layer DVD-R). It features two Open Movie Project films, Big Buck Bunny and Elephant's Dream, some Microsoft HD video and a sound sample, all available under a Creative Commons license.

Of course, the final project may be open to abuse by the illegal file-sharing community, but it will come as a blessing to all those who want to archive their Blu-ray home movies and collections for easy storage.