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What is DVD, DVD Video and DVD Encryption Technology

DVD, short for Digital Versatile Disc, is an optical disc format widely recognized for its multifaceted utility in data storage and multimedia applications. Originally introduced as the acronym for "digital video disc," its scope has expanded beyond mere video playback to encompass a diverse array of uses. In the United States (NTSC), DVDs typically feature 480 lines of resolution, while in other regions adhering to the PAL standard, DVDs boast 576 lines of resolution. Scroll down for more information about DVD definition, DVD types, DVD encryption technology, and DVD lifespan.

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DVD Definition

DVD, also known as Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc, is an optical disc storage media format, and was invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Time Warner in 1995. Its main uses are video and data storage. DVDs are of the same dimensions as compact discs (see CD vs DVD differences), but are capable of storing more than six times as much data.

Physically, a DVD resembles a compact disc (CD) but has a much larger storage capacity. DVDs come in various formats, including DVD-ROM (Read-Only Memory), DVD-R (Recordable), DVD+R, DVD-RW (ReWritable), and DVD+RW, each with specific capabilities for data storage and manipulation. The most common application of DVDs is for commercial movies and television programs. They offer high-quality video and audio playback, making them popular among consumers for home entertainment. DVDs have largely replaced VHS tapes and become a standard format for home video viewing.

DVDs are used for storing a wide range of data types, including software, games, music albums, and archival data. Their versatility in storing large quantities of digital information makes them valuable tools for various industries, including education, business, and archival purposes. One notable feature of DVDs is their region coding system, which divides the world into different regions. DVDs sold in one region may not play on DVD players sold in another region, preventing unauthorized distribution and preserving copyright agreements.

What is DVD
DVD Introduction

DVD Types

There are different DVD types, mainly including DVD-/+R and DVD-/+RW. They have pretty similar features and are compatible with many standalone DVD Players and most DVD-ROMs while DVD-RAM has less DVD Player and DVD-ROM compatibility but better recording features.

DVD-R and DVD-RW: DVD-R was the first DVD recording format released that was compatible with standalone DVD Players. DVD-R is a non-rewriteable format and compatible with about 93% of all DVD Players & most DVD-ROMs. DVD-RW is a rewriteable format and compatible with about 80% of all DVD Players & most DVD-ROMs. DVD-R and DVD-RW supports single side 4.37 computer GB* DVDs (called DVD-5) and double sided 8.75 computer GB DVDs (called DVD-10 or DVD-9).

DVD+R and DVD+RW: DVD+R is a non-rewritable format and compatible with about 89% of all DVD Players & most DVD-ROMs. DVD+RW is a rewritable format and compatible with about 79% of all DVD Players & most DVD-ROMs. DVD+R and DVD+RW supports single side 4.37 computer GB* DVDs (called DVD-5) and double side 8.75 computer GB DVDs (called DVD-10 or DVD-9).

DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL: DVD+R DL/DVD-R DL or called DVD+R9/DVD-R9 are a Dual Layer writeable DVD+R/DVD-R. The dual layered discs can hold 7.95 computer GB* (called DVD-9) and dual layered double sides 15.9 computer GB (called DVD-18).

DVD-RAM: DVD-RAM has the best recording features but it is not compatible with most DVD-ROM drives and DVD-Video players. Think more of it as a removable hard disk. DVD-RAM is usually used in some DVD Recorders.

DVD-Video and DVD-Audio discs refer to properly formatted and structured video and audio content, respectively. Other types of DVDs, including those with video content, may be referred to as DVD Data discs.

DVD Video

Video: Although many resolutions and formats are supported, most consumer DVDs use either 4:3 or anamorphic 16:9 aspect ratio MPEG-2 video, stored at a DVD resolution of 720/704×480 (NTSC) or 720/704×576 (PAL) at 29.97, 25, or 23.976 FPS.

Audio: Audio is commonly stored using the Dolby Digital (AC-3) or Digital Theater System formats, ranging from 16-bits/48 kHz to 24-bits/96 kHz format with monaural to 6.1-channel "Surround Sound" presentation, and/or MPEG-1 Layer 2 and/or LPCM Stereophonic.

Although the specifications for video and audio requirements vary by global region and television system, many DVD players support all possible formats. DVD Video also supports features such as menus, selectable subtitles, multiple camera angles, and multiple audio tracks.

DVD Video contains two folders, named "VIDEO_TS" and "AUDIO_TS". VIDEO_TS folder contains all DVD video and AUDIO_TS folder contains nothing, and VIDEO_TS folder contains three types of file: Unencrypted IFO, Unencrypted BUP, and Encrypted VOB. You cannot copy VOB files to other places such as: hard disk, USB, etc.

How Does A DVD Work?

The encoding process for DVDs might seem mysterious, but it shares similarities with encoding data onto videotapes. Just as a videotape stores and retrieves information based on the arrangement of iron oxide particles, a DVD relies on a specific "dot pattern" etched onto its surface. A laser, with remarkable precision, burns these dots—essentially minute pits—onto the master DVD, leveraging their minuscule size to achieve the DVD's expansive storage capacity.

A DVD operates through optical storage and retrieval principles, comprising several key components and processes. Structurally, it features a circular polycarbonate disc with a reflective metallic layer and protective coating. Data encoding involves converting digital information into pits and lands along a spiral track on the disc's surface. A laser diode in a DVD player emits a focused beam of light to read data stored on the disc, interacting with the metallic layer. Variations in reflectivity between pits and lands are detected by a laser detector and interpreted as binary data. Precise tracking and servo mechanisms enable the DVD player to follow the spiral track accurately, ensuring alignment of the laser with the data track. Binary data is decoded into original digital information for output on displays or speakers.

Error correction techniques are integrated into DVDs to mitigate data loss from scratches or dust. Despite imperfections, accurate data retrieval is maintained, enhancing playback reliability. In essence, DVDs seamlessly blend optical technology and precise mechanisms to store, retrieve, and decode digital content for diverse multimedia applications.

In practical terms, imagine a virtual reality project occupying 75 MB of data on a disc. If the aim is to distribute this project widely, perhaps for public viewing in museums nationwide, DVDs offer a reliable means of dissemination. This process entails creating a master DVD and then replicating it on a massive scale. Replication houses, like Panasonic or CinRam, utilize sophisticated software algorithms to transfer data from the master disc to a glass-topped DVD. The laser, controlled by a burner, etches the data pattern onto the DVD's surface, varying the spacing, brightness, and darkness of the dots. Much like the arrangement of letters and words enables comprehension, these variations render the data readable to computers and DVD players alike.

DVD Encryption Technology

DVD Region Code: DVD region code is a measure used to prevent the playback of a disc in another area other than the region where it was released. That means, you can't play a UK DVD on an American DVD player. There are 6 DVD region codes in total, each represents different areas. For example, Region 1 represents Canada, the United States and U.S territories, while Regin 2 is Europe, Japan, and some other areas.

DVD Copy Protection: It's a blanket term for various methods of copy protection for DVDs. Such methods include DRM, DVD-checks, Dummy Files, illegal tables of contents, over-sizing or over-burning the DVD, physical errors, and bad sectors. There are a huge amount of protection schemes rely on breaking compliance DVD standards, leading to playback problems on some devices.
>> Remove copy Protection form DVD

Content Scramble System (CSS Encryption): It's a Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme used on almost all commercially produced DVD-Video discs. It utilizes a proprietary 40-bit stream cipher algorithm. The system was introduced around 1996 and has subsequently been compromised. The CSS key sets are licensed by the DVD Copy Control Association to manufacturers who incorporate them into products such as DVD movie releases, drives & players. Most DVD players are equipped with a CSS Decryption module. CSS key is a collective term for authentication key, disc keys, player keys, title keys, secured disk key set, and/or encrypted title keys.

Sony ARccOS Protection: Also Advanced Regional Copy Control Operating Solution, is a copy-protection system made by Sony that is used on some DVDs. Designed as an additional layer to be used in conjunction with Content Scramble System (CSS), the system deliberately creates corrupted sectors on the DVD, which cause copying software to produce errors.
>> Clone DVD with Bad Sectors

Disney DVD Copy Protection: It stops making backup of the Disney DVD movies or play them on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, etc. And it is not playable on DVD player which is not matching for the protected DVD.

How Long can A DVD Last

Different DVD types have different lifetime, for example:

* Commercial DVDs are expected to last more than 50 years;
* CD-R, DVD-R, and DVD+R discs should have a life expectancy of 100 to 200 years or more;
* CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM discs can last for 25 years or more.

This is the DVD lifetime when you store DVDs under the perfect storage conditions, that means proper temperatures, humidity, careful handling, etc. But DVDs are in fact very fragile. Besides the strict environment requirements, you may accidently scratch the disc, especially when you have kids around. Therefore, it's hard to keep DVD collections for that long. You'd better create a DVD backup for longer storage and easier playback.


Author - Kistent Waung

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Graduated from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, she employs herself in IT related content creation (since 2013) and happens to perfectly combine her major (computer & science) and her gusto (writing). She's seasoned at offering video audio conversion workarounds and always passionate about new trends, from hot HEVC, 4K to the new AV1 codec.

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