article last updated on
4.22.2003 | printer-friendly
If you just read our DVD Tutorial,
you would have realized that DVD-Video is one of the application formats
of the general DVD specification. If you haven't read it, we
recommend that you read it first, as it talks about the physical
aspects and data capacities of the DVD format and introduces the
various application formats of DVD, of which DVD-Video is one.
A Revolutionary Format
DVD-Video is a revolutionary format for video
content. It is doing for movies what the
Compact Disc (CD) did for music. The video and audio
information stored on a DVD-Video are pure digital for a crystal clear picture and
CD-quality multi-channel surround sound. Among these and other reasons, DVD-Video is the ideal format for
enjoying and collecting movies and other video content. Let's
discuss the various features that make DVD-Video so exciting as a
The DVD-Video format
provides up to 480 horizontal lines of resolution. This is a
significant improvement over the 260 horizontal lines of resolution of standard
VHS, and the 330 horizontal lines of resolution for broadcast TV. The color is brilliant, rich, and saturated,
accurately rendering skin tones. With the right equipment and
set-up, you can enjoy a picture that approaches the quality of film.
DVD-Video contains digital video
information that is compressed using MPEG-2 (Motion Pictures
Experts Group), to minimize the amount of data required for video.
If the video information is left uncompressed, DVDs would contain only
tens of minutes of video footage, instead of several hours. (MPEG-2
is the same compression algorithm used in digital satellite TV.) The
digital format provides a
picture virtually free of video noise with unsurpassed detail and color
Editor's Note: To fully take advantage
of DVD's superior picture, a component
video interface, or S-video
interface to the TV is recommended.
True to its promise of delivering the cinematic experience, DVD-Video can
reproduce the original widescreen theatrical formats of movies as they're
shown in movie theaters. DVD-Video can deliver the 1.85:1 aspect ratio (where
the screen width is 1.85 times the screen height), or the 2.35:1 aspect
ratio (where the screen width is 2.35 times the screen height). Of
course, DVD-Video can also provide the "full-frame" 1.33:1 aspect
ratio (where the screen width is 1.33 times the screen height, or 4 units
wide by 3 units high) that represents the standard NTSC [National
Television Standards Committee] television screen (the standard TV format
for the U.S. and Canada).
sweeping vista of a 2.35:1 aspect ratio widescreen movie
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" - copyright © New Line Cinema
- all rights reserved
State-of-the-Art Surround Sound
To complement the sweeping vistas of the widescreen format are
sound from the audio track(s) of the DVD. The DVD
specification requires Dolby
Digital 2.0 2-channel audio to be encoded on every DVD-Video
disc (for countries using the NTSC TV standard). This
2-channel soundtrack allows Dolby Surround Pro-Logic to be encoded in the stereo
audio channels for backwards compatibility with pre-existing Dolby
Surround Pro-Logic sound systems.
and frequently the case, the DVD-Video disc includes the Dolby
Digital 5.1 surround sound format that provides five channels
(i.e., center, left, right, surround left, surround
right; giving it the "5" designation) of full frequency
(with respect to the range of human hearing, 20 Hz
to 20,000 Hz) effects, plus a sixth channel for low frequency effects (LFE). The LFE channel is usually reserved for the subwoofer
speaker(s), or those speakers capable of reproducing low frequency
ranges. The low frequency effects channel gives Dolby Digital 5.1 the
".1" designation. The ".1" signifies that the
sixth channel is not full frequency, as it contains only deep bass
An alternative to Dolby Digital is DTS
Digital Surround, another 5.1-channel capable surround sound
format. DTS offers higher data rates (up to four times higher) for
audio information than
Dolby Digital, meaning the multi-channel audio information is not as
compressed. This higher data rate and the resulting actual
performance lead many audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts to claim that
DTS is better than
As if Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1-channel
surround sound weren't enough, the DVD-Video format can also support the newer
extended surround formats such as THX Surround EX and
DTS-ES matrix and
DTS-ES discrete 6.1. For more information, click
here to read more about the different surround
Editor's Note: In countries outside the U.S. and
Canada where the PAL video system is used, a DVD-Video disc must have either Dolby
Digital 2.0 or MPEG 2.0 soundtrack.
Language Dialogs and Soundtracks
movies are distributed with multiple language options (e.g., English,
Spanish, French), each with its own dialog and soundtrack. With up to eight (8)
languages or soundtracks.
Closed captioning and/or subtitles
are also supported, with up to 32 separate closed caption and/or
subtitle tracks encoded into the DVD disc. This feature is
activated by using the DVD-Video player's remote control.
The DVD-Video format can support the
director's use of simultaneous multiple camera angles to put a new
spin on the plot. Though not many DVD-Video titles offer this option,
the "Tomorrow Never Dies: Special Edition" DVD-Video uses the
multi-angle feature to cross reference the current scene with
associated storyboard designs and
Many DVD-Video movie releases
come with bonus materials (that are normally not included in the VHS version),
deleted scenes and alternate endings
director's audio commentary
"the making-of" and various
cast and crew interviews
multi-angle storyboard vs. final film
theatrical trailers and TV spots
cast and crew biographies and filmographies
Some studios are pretty creative when it comes to the type of
bonus feature content, while others are not as innovative.
Some studios consistently provide little, if any bonus programming,
even with recent blockbuster theatrical releases. Bonus
features content will vary from movie-to-movie, even released by the
same studio. Some bonus features are actually DVD-ROM features
where the same disc features DVD-ROM application content. Such
DVD-ROM content (e.g., full screenplay text cross-referenced with video playback,
web access, and games) requires a computer with a DVD-ROM drive for
viewing. Overall, bonus features make movie collecting on the
DVD-Video format all the more rewarding.
Random Access To Scenes
Video content on DVD-Video discs are
organized into titles and chapters, similar to how songs are on tracks of an
audio CD. Think of titles as being analogous to the top-level
directories of your computer hard disk, then chapters would be
subdirectories under these titles. You can jump to your favorite scenes directly using the "skip
chapter" button on the DVD player or its remote control, entering the chapter
number directly using the remote control, or
using the DVD disc's menu feature (which is the easiest approach).
With this random access approach, there is no more rewinding of
has a unique feature called "seamless branching" where
different video segments can be pre-programmed to combine in various combinations. This allows for the same DVD-Video
disc to contain different versions of the same film, like an
original theatrical release version and a director's cut version of
the same film. For example, if you chose the "original
theatrical release" version from the main menu, the DVD-Video
disc will play the original version of the movie by playing the same scenes as shown in
the movie theaters. If you chose the "director's
cut" version from the main menu, the DVD-Video disc will play
back the director's cut of the movie, which may skip to
scenes there were previously unreleased during certain segments and
automatically branches back to the common scenes shared with the
theatrical version. These scene transitions are nearly
instantaneous and transparent to the viewer.
The DVD-Video format offers parents the
ability to lock out viewing of certain materials by their children.
Furthermore, different versions of the same movie with different MPAA
ratings (e.g., G, PG, PG-13, R) can be stored on the same DVD, using
the seamless branching feature we
mention in the previous section.
Region code is not so much a feature for consumers
as it is for the studios releasing movies and other video content to
DVD-Video. DVD-Video region codes divide the world up into
Region 0: World-wide (i.e., no specific region
Region 1: North America (United States and
Region 2: Western Europe and Japan
Region 3: Southeast Asia
Region 4: South America and Australia
Region 5: Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia
Region 6: China
By encoding each DVD-Video disc and DVD players
with region codes, only similarly coded software can be played back
on DVD hardware. In other words, a "region 1" coded
DVD-Video can be played back only by a DVD player that is compatible
with "region 1". This allows movie studios to
release a DVD-Video of a movie, while preparing the same movie for
theatrical release of the same movie overseas.
Selection of DVD Movies
There are over 14,500
titles available on DVD-Video as of April 2002. Many
national and local video rental chains and independents are renting
DVDs today. There are even on-line merchants that rent DVDs,
NetFlix.com, that carry a large selection of DVD-Video titles. DVDs are here to stay and has become the new medium
of choice for home viewing and movie collecting.
DVD-Video Players Are
The adoption rate for
DVD-Video players have far surpassed that of any consumer electronics device to date and has
long since passed the "early adopter" stage. With
prices below $100 for an entry-level DVD-Video player, DVD-Video is
now a mainstream format by every measure.
Are You Ready For DVD-Video?
Are you ready to enjoy movies in
the DVD-Video format? It's really only a question of time... Now is as good
a time as any to take the plunge into DVD. If you're ready, we
can help you find the right DVD player for your needs and budget.
What do you want to do next?
For more information on DVD
you find this DVD-Video Tutorial helpful? Let us know your
thoughts, send an e-mail to us at Staff@TimeForDVD.com.
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