see also www.dvdforum.org
the DVD standards are located at http://www.dvdforum.org/tech-dvdbook.htm
moves so fast, these days. Why, only a couple of years ago, the Movie
Rental stores had just a small smattering of titles, that were relegated to a
small corner. Today, DVD's have taken over, and now represent about half
of the titles, with VHS constituting the other half.
we cover all aspects of DVD's - from the technology of the discs, to authoring your own.
However, we will concentrate on PC DVD. We will not cover VCD or SVCD,
which are a method of encoding MPEG1 video to CD's (a kludge IMO).
originally stood for Digital Video Disc, and then later it was revised
to Digital Versatile Disc. Finally, in 1999 the DVD
Forum decided that neither acronym was justified, and decreed that it
shall stand for nothing - just DVD (see 6.1
of the DVD FAQ). Nevertheless, as usually happens when industries
try to change or remove acronyms . . . they never go away in people's minds . . . and today, most
people still view the acronym as "Digital Versatile Disc".
DVD FAQ: www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html
DV (Digital Video) is mentioned here only to state that it has nothing to
do with DVD !! It is it's own, separate NTSC standard, and defines the
format used by Digital camcorders to store video on digital tape - it also
defines the format that is used for PC digital video capture.
are many types of DVD discs (see DVD discs Explained). A standard, DVD-5
disc has the following features:
- Up to 133 minutes of high-resolution video, in letterbox or pan-and-scan
format, with 720 dots of horizontal resolution (The video compression ratio
is typically 40:1 using MPEG-2 compression.)
- Soundtrack presented in up to eight languages using 5.1 channel Dolby
digital surround sound
- Subtitles in up to 32 languages
term has caused major confusion:
HT (Home Theater) units that play DVD movies on your television are called
DVD-ROM and DVD-Recorder units for PC's are called "DVD Players"
software utilities that allows you to view DVD movies on your PC are
called "DVD Players".
simplify this for the remainder of these pages . . .
every time you see the term "DVD Player" it will mean the HT system
player. For the PC we will use the term "DVD Drive" or "DVD
burner", and we will refer to the software players as "software DVD
won't go into detail on this - but it is an important consideration. Older
DVD players often have trouble reading PC recorded DVD's - a very important
factor when buying DVD burners. But for the new players, fortunately, the
vast majority can read all four DVD-recorded formats, so you can breathe a bit
easier when making a purchase. They are all fairly similar, so just do
your usual product review homework on the web prior to the actual
purchase. Make sure the platter supports at least 3 DVD's so you don't
have to get up as much !!
the future, DVD-18 (dual-sided, dual layer, over 8 hours of playtime) will
probably become popular, as manufacturers begin making dual-sided players
(either two lasers or the ability to flip the disc). However, so far there
are very few titles in that format, and there are no "flipper players"
PC's a DVD drive is either DVD-ROM or DVD Recorder (DVD burner). Both
support playback of DVD's - both audio and video. The advantage of DVD
audio is that it supports multi-channel (surround sound) Dolby 5.1 and DTS
discs. However, be forewarned that some units, such as the Pioneer DVD-R units do not come
with a digital output port (S/PDIF) !! I found that out the hard
way. The S/PDIF port is for playback of DTS or Dolby 5.1 DVD's. It
can connect to your HT system or to some of the newer surround sound cards, such
as the Audigy 2.
drives are for playback only and DVD Recorders allow both playback and
recording. DVD recorders come in several flavors, and it is very
confusing . . . DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW.
When you consider which to buy - most will
probably go for the cheaper DVD-ROM. But if you plan on authoring or
copying DVD's - you will need a burner. Most new DVD-ROM drives come with
a digital out port, but make sure to check before buying. More on this
copying - DVD-to-DVD copy utilities are used to make copies of
rentals. There - I said it - MAKE COPIES OF RENTALS
!!! I don't condone and I don't admonish that - it's just a simple
fact. The DVD copying vendor websites go out of their way to say, over and
over again . . . "to make personal backups of your
DVD titles". Of course, they have to say that, but even the posters
on the message boards are making sure to add that in with their questions on
copying, as if the cops will bust down their door. Yet nobody would spend
the hours it takes - to make a personal backup copy of a DVD. I am not
promoting copying rentals, but I am stating the truth. People buy DVD
copy utilities for copying rented DVD's - and that is the only reason they buy
them. That's the fact, you make your own judgment on the morality of
VHS to DVD
copying - this is another matter entirely. This can be a worthwhile
endeavor, but only if the VHS is rare, valuable, or an important tape of family
footage. Like DVD copying (it is a very slow process, and not worth the time for your average
flick). The quality of VHS tapes definitely declines, and it only takes a
few years to go from a clear picture, to a soft, grainy picture.
Unless you are very, very serious about creating
your own DVD's - forget about it. DVD burners can also be used to
create your own (DVD authoring). On the surface, this
seems awfully exciting . . . to be able to create your own movie on your
PC, burn it to a blank DVD, and send copies to your family and friends.
Well, let me caution you here - the whole thing is expensive and slow as
molasses. I spent about a thousand bucks on this hobby, and so far have
very little to show for it. It is tedious, tedious, tedious. The
encoding software and the DVD players are extremely picky about the MPEG2 format
that must be used. The process of making your own videos is a huge,
complex, slow task. The process of converting AVI or MPEG1 to MPEG2
will have pulling your hair out as you battle numerous compatibility issues -
and it is very slow. Finally, burning the DVD is horrendously slow
!!! Oh yes, and one more thing. DVD's are long - they are not
meant to store that funny little clip of Grandma taking a spill on the dance
floor, or the kids playing with the puppy. Just to create a few DVD's, you
will need many hours of footage - are you really going to be able to create
hours upon hours of interesting video?