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DVD-Video - General Information - Overview

DVD-Video has become the format of choice for high quality movies, TV series and music videos.

DVD-Video is a global standard for pre-recorded video and was originally designed to meet the requirements of the movie industry, in particular for a complete movie on a single 'compact' optical disc.

DVD-Video also offers a wide range of features including full surround sound, subtitling, a choice of display formats and user interaction for non-linear video applications.

bulletDVD-Video: A Global Standard
The DVD-Video specification (currently version 1.12) was written and is now maintained by the DVD Forum working group WG1, which comprises a number of task groups concerned with both read-only and recordable disc formats.

DVD-Video is now the fastest growing consumer electronics technology of all time. Several hunderd thousand titles and many millions of players are now in use around the world, with annual sales of players and discs doubling each year.

DVD-Video players were launched in Japan in November 1996, in the USA in March 1997 and in Europe in 1998. Since then DVD-Video has grown faster than any other consumer electronics format in all these regions.

DVD-Video has replaced VHS as the format of choice for pre-recorded movies, both retail and rental. With the introduction of recordable versions DVD-Video is now set to replace the VHS for home video recording and playback of pre-recorded video.

bulletDVD-Video Requirements
The Hollywood based Motion Picture Studio Advisory Committee defined the following requirements for the DVD-Video format:

  • 135 minutes on one side of a single disc (covering 99% of all movies).
  • Video resolution better than Laserdisc (LD).
  • CD quality surround sound for true home cinema listening.
  • 3 to 5 languages (audio) per title on one disc
  • 4 to 6 subtitles per title on one disc
  • Pan-scan, letterbox and widescreen formats
  • Parental lockout features
  • Copy protection
  • Compatibility with existing CDs
  • Chapter division and access (like Video CD)
  • Manufacturing cost similar to current CD costs.

The Video CD format was studied, but was rejected as it could not offer the necessary combination of quality and playing time, hence the need for a new higher capacity disc format that has been realised in DVD. The above requirements have all been met in the DVD-Video specification.

bulletDVD-Video Features
The DVD-Video specification provides the following features:

  • 133 minutes of high quality MPEG-2 encoded video with multi-channel surround sound audio.
  • The choice of widescreen, letter box and pan & scan video formats.
  • Audio in up to 8 languages
  • Subtitles for a further 32 languages
  • Menus and program chains for user interactivity
  • Up to 9 camera angles to give the user more choice
  • Digital and analogue copy protection
  • Parental control for protection of children

Most DVD-Videos also include extras that cannot be included on a VHS, such as biographies, director's commentary, making of the movie etc. An increasing number include DVD-ROM content, which can range from links to relevant websites to a full game based on the movie. The use of websites can allow the disc to be used in different ways with updated text and graphics information on the website complementing the video on the disc.

The DVD-Video specification is based on a pre-recorded DVD (DVD-ROM) with UDF Bridge file system. A DVD-Video can therefore be a DVD-5, DVD-10 or DVD-9 disc depending on the playing time required and other factors. For overall playing times longer than 133 minutes (including additional content), the dual layer DVD-9 offers a solution. A DVD-10 is more useful where widescreen and pan & scan versions are required on the same disc. The use of the DVD-10 format is not recommended for longer playing times, as the disc needs to be flipped to play the other side.

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