Tagged: DVD

The acronym DVD originally denoted ‘Digital Video Disc’, but in 1995 it was agreed it should stand for ‘Digital Versatile Disc’ to emphasise the flexibility of the format for different applications.

Interactive DVD (1998 – )

Interactive DVDs (sometimes also known as DVD games, DVD Interactive or DVDi) allow the playing of games on DVD-Video players without the need for a computer or video game console, or any additional hardware (though some titles come with additional hardware such as buzzers).

The interactive DVD make use of the rudimentary interactivity features built-in to DVD-Video players that allow, for example, navigation through menus. The ability to skip to any point on the DVD instead of having to move through the video in a linear fashion as on VHS video recorders is also a major factor in making interactive DVDs practical.

The first interactive DVD game was Dragon’s Lair released in 1998, and a development of an older LaserDisc based game.

From 2001, DVD versions of board games and television quiz shows began to be released.

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LightScribe (2004 – 2013)

LightScribe was not a format as such, but a technology introduced by Hewlett-Packard in 2004 that allowed optical drives to laser-etch labels onto compatible media.

As well as a compatible LightScribe enabled drive, LightScribe drivers and suitable disc-burning software that supported LightScribe was required. Finally, a LightScribe compatible disc was needed. After burning data to the disc, the disc is turned over so the label side is face down, and the same laser that burnt data is used to etch the reactive dye coating of the disc.

LightScribe-compatible discs came in the form of CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R and DVD+RW. No Blu-ray discs were LightScribe compatible.

The LightScribe technology could only etch in monochrome, and it was possible for the design to fade over time, especially if the disk was exposed to direct sunlight. Etching a disc took a considerable amount of time; up to 30 minutes for a high-contrast image.

As of 2013, the technology was no longer promoted by Hewlett-Packard, but it is possible to obtain the software from elsewhere. Drive manufactures have now ceased making LightScribe enabled optical drives (optical drives in computers are under threat in general).

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DVD-10 / double-sided DVD (1998 – )

DVD-10 discs are double-sided, single-layer DVD-Video discs and are sometimes referred to as ‘flippers’ since they need to be turned over to access the content on the second side. The DVD-10 format is much less common than DVD-9 (single-sided, double-layered discs) but were used more in the early days of DVD-Video, before dual-layer disc production was widely supported. DVD-10 has a storage capacity for video of 9.4 GB (4.7 GB per side). Single-sided, dual-layer discs (DVD-9s) were a feature of the DVD standard from the start, but some early players did have problems with them or needed a firmware upgrade.

DVD-10s don’t feature any artwork on the disc apart from a small area near the spindle hole to indicate which side is which. This is a criticism of the format, along with the difficulty of avoiding finger marks and scratches on the playing surfaces of the disc.

Some DVD-10s contained the movie on one side and bonus material on the other, or a widescreen version on one side and a fullscreen version on the other but some discs did split the film into two parts so the disc needed to be turned during the film, rather like a LaserDisc. Some people reserve the term ‘flipper’ for DVD-10s where the main feature is split over the two sides.

It is possible to find double-sided, dual-layer DVDs (DVD-18s), but these are uncommon, and reportedly more liable to playback problems.

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Superbit (2001 – 2007)

Superbit was a variant on standard DVD-Video introduced in 2001 by the Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment division of Sony.

Superbit DVDs used a higher bit rate transfer process to optimise video quality, and always contained both a 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS soundtrack. The actual increase in bit rate varied according to the space available on the disc, and the bit rate of the standard DVD version (which itself could vary). They were compatible with standard DVD players and so could carry the DVD logo. Due to the extra space required for video and audio data, bonus material is kept to a minimum or not included at all, though there were a handful of ‘Superbit Deluxe’ releases which carried the bonus material on a second disk. The menus were different to those on the standard DVD release, and were kept simple to save space.

Fewer than 60 titles were released in Superbit format, and Superbit releases typically only sold 2% of the amount of the standard DVD version.

By 2007, Sony was promoting Blu-ray and the Superbit line was dropped.

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DVD-ROM (1997 – )

DVD-ROM (Digital Versatile Disc – Read-Only Memory) is a read-only high-capacity optical disc format. DVD-Video is a form of DVD-ROM, but DVD-ROM usually refers to DVD discs for data storage. Microsoft were the first major corporation to release software on DVD-ROM in 1997.

Capacities range from 4.7GB (for a single-sided, single-layer disc) to 17GB (for a double-sided, dual-layer disc).

DVD-ROM drives are backwards compatible with CD-ROM discs, and can read rewritable DVD media such as DVD-R/DVD+R and DVD-RW/DVD+RW.

Since around 2007, DVD drives (along with optical disc drives generally) have been disappearing from laptops and of course were never available in tablets. Despite this, a lot of computer software is still available on DVD-ROM.

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Preservation / Migration

MiniDVD-R (1997 – )

The MiniDVD-R is a smaller (8cm) version of the DVD-R. MiniDVD-R discs can be used in the same way as 12cm DVD-R discs to hold computer data, but their most common use was in DVD-based camcorders from around 2003 to the early 2010s.

A standard MiniDVD-R could hold 30 minutes of video, with double-layer discs offering 60 minutes (with a compatible camcorder).

The use of MiniDVD-R discs in camcorders made it easier to watch the resulting video on standard tray-loading DVD players (providing the disc was ‘finalised’ in the camcorder first).

Many DVD camcorders could also use other types of DVD discs, such as MiniDVD+R, MiniDVD-RW, MiniDVD+RW and MiniDVD-RAM.

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DVD-R (1997 – )

DVD-R is a recordable optical disc format based on DVD and developed by Pioneer in 1997. It is supported by most DVD players and is approved by the DVD Forum. It is similar to, but incompatible with, the newer DVD+R standard

A double-sided DVD-R typically has a storage capacity of 4.7 GB but a dual-layer double-sided version with a capacity of 8.5 GB, DVD-R DL, was released in 2005. DVD-R is generally used for non-volatile data storage or video applications. A smaller 8cm version of DVD-R (miniDVD-R) is also available for use in camcorders.

Double-sided DVD-R discs are composed of two 0.6 mm acrylic discs bonded to each other, one containing the laser guiding groove and coated with the recording dye and a silver alloy or gold reflector. On single-sided discs, the unused side is simply a blank to make up the thickness to 1.2mm.

Many DVD drives are hybrid drives (normally labeled ‘DVD±RW’) and can read and write to both DVD-R and DVD+R. However, because the DVD-R format has been in use since 1997, it has had a five-year lead on DVD+R which wasn’t introduced until 2002. As such, older DVD players are more likely to favour the DVD-R standard exclusively.

Unlike DVD+R, DVD-R discs do not need to be formatted before being recorded by a compatible DVD video recorder.

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Preservation / Migration

Nintendo Wii Optical Disc (2006 – 2013)

The Nintendo Wii Optical Disc was a proprietary DVD-based format used in the Nintendo Wii games console, introduced in 2006.

The format was created by Panasonic for Nintendo, and is a full sized version of the Nintendo GameCube disc, with the potential capacity of a double-layer DVD-ROM (most early discs were single-layer). The disc reader of the Wii does not play DVD-Video, DVD-Audio or Compact Discs.

The Wii Optical Disc uses a burst cutting area mark on the disc to store encrypted data for copy-protection.

The Wii was a seventh-generation game console, that competed with consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox 360, and Sony PlayStation 3. It introduced the Wii Remote controller, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and which detects movement in three dimensions. Early models were compatible with GameCube discs and with GameCube Memory Cards. Secure Digital cards can be used for uploading photos and backing up saved game data and downloaded Virtual Console and WiiWare games.

The Wii was replaced by the Wii U in 2012, and was discontinued in 2013.

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DVD-Video (1998 – )

DVD-Video is a digital optical disc storage format for video playback, developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic. It was initially available in Japan in 1995, and reached Europe in 1998. The first movie to be released on the new DVD-Video format was Twister, which also happened to be the last film released on HD-DVD.

In 1993, two new optical disc video formats were being developed, Multimedia Compact Disc (MMCD), backed by Philips and Sony, and the Super Density (SD) disc, supported by a number of other manufacturers. Eventually, a joint standard was agreed.

Movie distributors adopted the DVD-Video format to replace the ubiquitous VHS as it produced superior picture and sound quality, could provide interactivity, and the storage capacity allowed for extras or bonus features such as audio commentaries, deleted scenes and trailers. Players were also cheaper to manufacture than complex video tape machines.

Each DVD-Video disc contains one or more region codes, denoting the area(s) of the world in which distribution and playback are intended. The commercial DVD player specification dictates that a player must only play discs that contain its region code but in practice, many DVD players allow playback of any disc, or can be modified to do so.

Currently, DVD-Video is the dominant form of home video distribution worldwide, although in Japan it was surpassed by Blu-ray Disc in 2006. It is now, however, facing competition from video on demand services.

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DIVX (Digital Video Express) (1998 – 1999)

DIVX (Digital Video Express) was short-lived DVD-based video format created by Circuit City as an alternative to video rental in the US. DIVX players became available in mid-1998.

Customer would buy a DIVX disc at lower price than a standard DVD, but they would only be able to view it for 48 hours (longer viewing required a continuation fee). The DIVX players had to call an account server over a phone line to enable playback, and the disc would not play in standard DVD players.

Consumers could simply discard the disc once they had watched it, although several DIVX retailers maintained DIVX recycling bins on their premises.

By March 1999, around 420 titles were available in the DIVX format, however it was discontinued in June 1999 and owners of players provided with a partial refund. Existing discs were viewable until mid-2001, when access to the account server ended.

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