Understanding DVD

Contributed By

It's not new, but it's now becoming more common in the home studio, let's take a look at it.

More and more people are starting to use DVD's in their home PC's, and a few are starting to get into surround sound and film scoring in their home studios. This means that many are starting to use DVD as a standard burn format for their music, and more will be moving that way all the time. I am one of those, so I figured, whilst looking around for info for myself, I would share what I have learned with you.

There seems to be a few bodies of authority, or at least of vested interest, for the DVD format:

  • RDVDC - The Recordable DVD council (DVD-RAM + DVD-RW)
  • DVD Forum - (DVD-) which is a group founded by industry heavyweights Mitsubishi, Sony, Hitachi, and Time Warner.
  • DVD+RW Alliance - (DVD+RW) which is supported by Sony, Yamaha, Philips, Dell, JP among others.
  • The RWPPI (DVD-RW) which works with Toshiba and Panasonic

DVD Burners

There are also a few different types of burners around. Let's take a quick look at the differences between DVD- and DVD+ as well as R and RW, single and dual layer and more.

If you have been working with CD burning for any length of time, you already understand the R and RW as well as the differences between. "R" is one-time writable, "RW" is rewritable, meaning it's like many other media types, you can write, erase and write again...

The - and + is not really the format of the finished product, as both are equally usable in commecial DVD players, but it is indicative of the way it will burn.

  • DVD- is the standard supported by the DVD Forum. It is a single layer data burn.
  • DVD+ is the standard supported by the DVD+RW Alliance. This standard supports the now commonly seen dual layer burning.
  • It seems that the DVD-RAM spec has really lost momentum and is really not much of a viable solution any more due at least in part to the higher price of the media.

It does appear from my research that DVD+ allows much greater versatility regarding formatting and producing their CD's as well. This feature, as claimed by the DVD+RW Alliance, include things such as ejecting the DVD without having to wait for finalized formatting, being able to packet write, formatting part of the DVD while writting on an already formatted part and still offering 100% DVD compatability. Perhaps the greatest strength of DVD+ is the native defect management. DVD+ can handle data errors and other issues a little more gracefully than DVD- due to this native management system.

It also seems that per sepcification, DVD+ always seems to be one step ahead in terms of burning speed as well. As soon as DVD- catches up, DVD+ ups the ante.

It is quite common today to find DVD burners at reasonable prices that will burn both formats, and even handle both writing and rewriting...in addition most all of these drives also write and rewrite all the common formats of CD's as well. So you can get one drive to handle all your burning needs.

Burning Software

Like CD burning, there are many different pieces of software available to burn DVD's, and most also burn CD's so again, it's a one-size-fits-all solution. And some light version of software almost always comes with typical retail burners, if buying OEM, that is not always the case.

It's much like any CD burn, with much the same interface and requirements as a CD burn. However, the one difference I have seen between DVD burning software is whether or not it has the ability to create a play menu as the intro to the DVD. If you have a DVD player, you are familiar with the menu that first pops up asking whether you want to play the movie, view the out-takes, or see an interview with the director. This menu has to be created somewhere. A big difference between software is the quality of this feature, or if it even exists. If it does exist it is sometimes very limited in the options you have regarding number of options, background, font type and things like that. A good piece of software will give you virtually total control over all the aspects of that first menu.


As with all thing technology, the format standards war continues, don't expect to see an edn any time soon, the best we can do is stay informed. I hope this little article has helped impart a little bit of knowledge to you.

Related Forum Topics:

User-submitted comments

No member-submitted comments currently available for this story.

If you would like to leave comments to the articles you read, feel free to register for your free membership.