A DVD Primer
March 2004
A DVD Primer
From DV to DVD: Enriching the experience of high-quality video
from the Adobe
Digital Video Group
P r i m e r :
From Stone Age to Bronze Age to Industrial Age to Information Age, humans have found new ways to
communicate and to tell stories that educate, inform, and entertain. Audiences have evolved from polite
passivity, glad to receive whatever reports, hearsay, or diversion might be found locally; through the
wonder of entertainment and news choices brought to them by national and international media networks; to an explosion of possibilities that are available on demand via cable, satellite, and the Internet.
With digital technology transforming the ways in which we access and utilize information, we have witnessed the dawn of the Interactive Age. We have become a society enraptured with decision-making on
every level—empowered to choose exactly what to read, listen to, and view; when, where, and how.
So it comes as no surprise that by 2000, within just three years of its introduction in September 1997,
DVD had become the most successful consumer electronics entertainment product ever. Facilitating
interactivity unfulfilled by VHS, at a more affordable cost than laser disc, DVD has outpaced the consumer adoption rate of any other product in history. Analysts predict that the total market for all types
of DVD systems (players, recorders, set-tops, PCs, etc.) will be over 400 million units by 2006.
While DVD players have rapidly become de rigueur in home entertainment systems, and DVD drives
are continuing to replace CD drives in personal and laptop computers, there have also been some other
developments that have been changing the way we experience and use video:
• With the availability of the DV format and affordability of DV camcorders, more and more
people are producing their own videos—for work and for their own entertainment.
• Nonlinear editing software has made capturing video to computers and crafting compelling
video productions affordable and as easy as word processing.
• DVD authoring can transform content into a much richer experience—in other words, DVD is
not just another digital video output format.
At the same time, recordable CD technology has enabled even the most unsophisticated computer users
to become adept at selecting, organizing, and storing their own collections of imagery and audio. The
overwhelming success of CD has paved the way for recordable DVD, offering users still greater media
capacity and the capability required for broadcast-quality resolution. Using a new generation of affordable hardware and software, people around the world are discovering how they can prepare their own
video and graphics, put them together in a DVD authoring application, and burn their own DVDs.
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This Primer is a good way of getting acquainted with DVD technology. It will introduce you to key
concepts and help you get started learning about the process of making your own DVDs—for business
or pleasure. It won’t tell you everything about DVD technology, but it will give you an overview of
the basics. You’ll find out how you can use DVD to make your video content more dynamic. At the
very least, you’ll learn enough to be an informed member of a work group planning and producing
DVD projects.
If you are a beginner, you’ll find out how easy it can be to develop and author your own DVDs. And, if
you are already creating video productions, this Primer will introduce you to the state-of-the-art technologies you can use to repurpose your content for DVD distribution.
As you read through this Primer, you might encounter unfamiliar words or abbreviations. Most of these
terms (those highlighted in boldface type) are defined in the Glossary at the end of this Primer, and
many will also be covered in greater detail as you read on.
P r i m e r :
WHAT IS DVD? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF DVD? . . . . . . . . .4
DVD outperforms other storage media . .. . .. . .. . .. . 4
Designed to meet industry demands. .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . 4
Standards are set by a single association.. . .. . .. . .. . 4
The DVD disc . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . 5
Understanding DVD formats .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . 5
Physical layer: Three DVD formats . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . 6
Application layer: Three DVD formats .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . 7
THE FEATURES OF DVD-VIDEO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
DVD-VIDEO BASICS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
VIDEO COMPRESSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
What is compression? What’s a codec? . . .. . .. . .. . .. . 9
MPEG . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . 9
MPEG-2. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 10
CBR and VBR.. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 11
AUDIO FOR DVD-VIDEO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Digital audio basics . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 12
Audio compression . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 12
Audio formats for DVD-Video .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 13
Karaoke mode. .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 14
ASPECT RATIOS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Standard TV matches Academy Aperture . . .. . .. . .. 15
Widescreen, aka “scope” formats . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 15
Aspect ratios and today’s motion pictures . .. . .. . .. 17
TV today. .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 17
Aspect ratios and today’s TVs .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 17
Aspect ratios and DVD . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 18
Aspect ratios and your DVDs. .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 20
MULTIPLE CAMERA ANGLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
The promise .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 20
The perception .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 21
The possibilities . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 21
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What are subpictures? . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 21
What are subpictures made of?. .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 21
What’s the difference between subtitles,
captions, and Closed Captions? . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 22
DVD-VIDEO INTERACTIVITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Seamless branching .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 23
Parental management . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 23
MENUS AND NAVIGATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
The infrastructure of DVD navigation .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 24
What is a menu? . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 24
What can menus and buttons do? . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 25
Content hierarchy—the DVD road-map. .. . .. . .. . .. 25
WEB ENHANCEMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Greater than the sum of its parts . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 28
Convergence is coming to a living room near you.. 28
REGION CODING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
What’s Region Coding; why does DVD have it? .. . .. 29
Region Coding is a “feature“ .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 29
Can Region Coding be modified to permit
multiregion playback? . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 30
CONTENT PROTECTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
CPS and CPSA . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 30
CMI and CCI .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 30
Watermarking and encryption . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 31
APS, aka analog CPS, aka copyguard;
aka Macrovision . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 31
CGMS and SCMS. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 31
CSS .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 31
CPRM and CPPM . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 32
DCPS, DTCP, and HDCP . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 32
HOW DO I MAKE A DVD? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
WHAT TOOLS DO I NEED? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Hardware .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 33
Software .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 35
THE DVD WORKFLOW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Planning. .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 37
Preparation .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 38
Authoring . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 39
Formatting and layout . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 39
Emulation . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 39
Replication . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 40
Packaging and distribution. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. 40
RESOURCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
FOR MORE INFORMATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
GLOSSARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
P r i m e r :
D V D ?
DVD is an acronym for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc—an optical disc storage medium
similar to CD (Compact Disc), but capable of holding far more data. DVD stands for more than just
the disc itself, however; it represents a whole system of technology standards for DVD discs, drives,
and players and for the formats that support them. DVD technology offers the higher quality and
speed needed to deliver cinema-like video and better-than-CD audio. DVD has been evolving while it
has rapidly been brought to market, so it is not surprising that the basics and variations can be a bit
confusing. Let’s sort them out.
DVD outperforms other storage media
• Storage capacity: A CD stores a maximum of 650 MB (megabytes) of data. That’s enough for
approximately 74 minutes of audio. A DVD stores up to 4.7 GB (gigabytes) per layer, per side.
Using MPEG-2 compression, a single-sided, single-layer DVD can easily accommodate an entire
feature-length film with multichannel digital audio. A DVD-18 disc, with two layers on each side
and a capacity of nearly 19 GB, can offer up to eight hours of video.
• Quality: DVD provides almost twice the video resolution of standard VHS videotape. Because
video on DVD is stored digitally, the medium itself is not a source of noise. As a result, DVD
provides a much clearer picture than what a system based on analog videotape can provide.
• Convenience and compatibility: Unlike the larger laser disc, a DVD is the same size and thickness as a CD. Most computer DVD drives have been designed to handle CD, as well as DVD.
Unlike videotapes, DVDs never need to be rewound. DVDs offer interactive menus that let users
randomly navigate content. The interactive capabilities of DVD empower users with a wide variety of choices and enable producers to offer audiences a range of experiences.
• Durability: While videotapes eventually wear out or break, DVDs are not subjected to wear as
they are played because they are not physically in contact with the player’s pickup mechanism as
they spin. Therefore, video and audio recorded on DVDs suffer no loss of fidelity over time.
Designed to meet industry demands
• Computer industry: After CD, recordable and rewritable DVD provides the next-generation of
convenience and higher capacity for data storage and archiving. Increasingly complex multimedia applications are continually being developed, which can easily be delivered via DVD.
• Motion picture industry: The movie industry sought a disc capable of holding a full-length feature film and delivering excellent quality video with surround sound audio.
• Music industry: The music industry wanted higher quality than CD, as well as greater capacity.
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• Video game industry: DVD delivers realistic video content with longer playing time.
Standards are set by a single association
Considered the most successful consumer electronics entertainment product ever introduced to the
marketplace, DVD owes its phenomenal success largely to the organization that governs its standards
and promotes its acceptance—the DVD Forum (www.dvdforum.org). An often uneasy alliance of
hardware manufacturers, software firms, and other users of digital versatile discs, this international
association was established in 1995 as the DVD Consortium by 10 companies: Hitachi, Matsushita,
Mitsubishi, Philips, Pioneer, Sony, Thomson Multimedia, Time-Warner, Toshiba, and JVC (Victor
Company of Japan). Today, virtually every major company involved in DVD is a member of the DVD
Forum, renamed as such in 1997. Unlike some memorably unsuccessful consumer electronics introductions in the past, DVD has benefitted from the industry-wide commitment to implementing
consistent standards. While the road to achieving this unilateral vision has been fraught with discord
and even intrigue, and has resulted in some uneasy compromises, the ultimate benefits for the consumer have been undeniable.
The pitch, or space between tracks on a DVD disc is less than
half the pitch between tracks on a CD, enabling more tracks
to be placed on a DVD disc. Because the laser that reads them
is more precise, the pits in which data is stored on a DVD are
much smaller than CD pits, affording more pits per track.
DVD: Less pitch, smaller pits
CD: Wider pitch, larger pits
P r i m e r :
D V D ?
The DVD disc
DVD discs look much like CDs (compact discs): both are the same diameter (120mm) and thickness (1.2mm). However, each layer (up to two)
on each of the two sides of a DVD can hold up to seven times the data
that can be stored on a single-sided, single-layer CD—up to 4.7 GB per
layer. While the second layer on a dual-layer side of a DVD does not
provide quite as much capacity as the first layer, a double-sided dual-layer
DVD (DVD-18) can hold up to 17 GB of data!
(Please see the Disc Capacity sidebar to the left for an important note on
storage capacity measurement units.)
At best, a CD provides only 74 minutes of audio—the approximate length of
Disc storage capacities
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. With a storage capacity of 4.7 GB, a single layer
Number Layers
of sides per side
of video
650 MB
4.7 GB
8.5 GB
9.4 GB
12.32 GB
17 GB
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Why you may not be able to fit a full two hours of video
on a DVD-5 disc….
The chart above indicates what the medium can achieve,
using the very best equipment and methodology. You’ll learn
how high-end pros can cram more data onto a disc using
proprietary compression techniques and variable bit rate
(VBR) encoding, later in this Primer.
An important note regarding the actual storage
capacity of discs
You will usually see 4.7 GB given as the capacity for a single
layer of DVD, just as you will typically see 650 MB given as
the capacity for a CD. This is a convention that can cause
problems when you are developing content, as you might
have already learned the hard way. Trying to record too
much data on a disc can result in having to throw away
a spoiled disc.
In actuality, a single layer of DVD holds 4.7 billion bytes (aka
G-bytes or BB), which is only 4.37 GB. A CD-ROM holds 650
million bytes—really only 635 MB.
Some confusion arises because a kilobyte (KB) is commonly,
but erroneously, thought to be 1,000 bytes, when it is
actually 1,024 bytes. Why is this so? In the digital world,
measurements are not metric, but based on a binary system
(powers of 2). So a kilobyte represents 2 raised to the 10th
power (210), which equals 1,024. 1 MB is not 1 million bytes,
but precisely 1,048,576 (220) bytes; and 1 GB is not, in fact,
1 billion bytes, but is actually 1,073,741,824 (230) bytes.
on a single side of a DVD disc can deliver 7 hours and 24 minutes of CD-quality
music—arguably all of Beethoven’s most significant symphonic works*—or
up to 2 hours of high-quality video.
Etched into the surface of the metallic discs that are bonded within
the acrylic coatings of both CDs and DVDs are microscopic marks
called pits. The surface area surrounding the pits is called land. The
pits, arranged on spiral tracks, are “read” by a laser in the DVD drive
or player. The device interprets the information, translating it into a
signal that can, in turn, be utilized by a computer, television set, or
audio receiver.
DVDs have greater capacity than CDs primarily because of better laser
technology and a number of interrelated improvements. A smaller spot of
laser light, produced by shorter wavelengths, enables the DVD laser to
read smaller pits. The ability of the DVD laser to change focus gives it the
ability to scan and read multiple layers. To make it easier for the laser to
focus on the smaller pits, a thinner plastic substrate is used, resulting in a
storage medium half the thickness of a CD, but too thin to withstand
handling and playing. So DVDs are actually two discs bonded together
(whether or not they are single- or double-sided), potentially doubling
data storage capacity. Additionally, DVDs use a more efficient method of
error correction than CDs, leaving more room on the disc for actual data.
Understanding DVD formats
Now we get to the confusing part. Just as in digital video, where the term
“format” may be used to refer to a variety of different things, such as tape
formats, broadcast formats, aspect ratios, or even content formats;
in DVD, the term “format” also refers to different sets of characteristics,
sometimes known as “technology layers.”
At the most basic level, in the realm of DVD, we are primarily interested
in two format types: the physical layer, which determines the recordability of a DVD disc, and the application layer, which governs how
the data is stored on a disc and how it is played. There are three broad
physical formats: read-only (DVD-ROM), recordable (DVD-R and
DVD+R), and rewritable (DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW).
* Our apologies to Beethoven fanatics—no insult intended to the Master’s less popular symphonies—just trying to make a point here.
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And there are three broad application formats: DVD-ROM, DVD-Video,
and DVD-Audio. Confused? As you can see, the name “DVD-ROM” is used
for both a physical and an application format, making the differentiation
quite confusing!
Physical layer: Three DVD formats
Sometimes referred to as the physical layer, the capability of a DVD to
be recorded to (or not) and to be rewritten (that is, erased and rerecorded)
defines a format.
• Read-only: DVD-ROM, with its large data storage capacity, is perfect
for delivering copyright-protected content such as movies and
music, as well as multimedia and interactive applications like video
games, training materials, and more.
• Recordable: DVD-R and DVD+R are write-once, read-many storage
formats akin to CD-R and CD+R. They cannot be erased and rewritten. DVD-R and DVD+R discs can only be written to once, with
the data being recorded sequentially. There are two types of DVD-R:
• DVD-R(A), or DVD-R for Authoring, is aimed at the professional
market and is used to generate masters for production recording.
• DVD-R(G), or DVD-R for General, was developed for the consumer market.
The “authoring” and “general” formats use different recording laser wavelengths, so they cannot be written interchangeably by the same devices.
They can, however, both be read by DVD players or drives that support
DVD-R media. DVD+R may, according to its proponents, through a
different technology approach, offer some advantages over DVD-R,
depending on your needs. (Read more about the +R and +RW formats
in the list below.) But DVD-R(A) is still one of the most compatible
formats available and has remained, therefore, the choice of many
DVD professionals.
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• Rewritable: The three variations of the rewritable format—DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW—
can be written to, erased, and rewritten, over and over again.
• DVD-RAM, the first rewritable DVD format brought to market could, in its infancy, only be written
while in a special cartridge because even a fingerprint left on the disc surface before writing would
cause errors. Double-sided DVD-RAM discs came in sealed cartridges, which meant they couldn’t
even be inserted into standard DVD-ROM drives. But DVD-RAM technology is evolving rapidly,
becoming more and more compatible to remain viable and competitive. Some DVD-RAM writers can
now also write to DVD-R and DVD-RW discs.
• DVD-RW (formerly known as DVD-ER and DVD-R/W) eliminated the protective cartridge that
was at first required by DVD-RAM, making it compatible with the disc-loading mechanisms in DVD
players and DVD-ROM drives. However, a variety of issues prevent some DVD-RW discs from
being recognized by some DVD players and drives.
• DVD+RW was (according to its advocates) designed to be compatible with most existing DVD
drives and players but has not proven to be a perfect solution to the compatibility issue. While
Minus-R (-R) and Minus-RW (-RW) are the recordable and rewritable formats supported by
the DVD Forum, several manufacturers got together (including DVD Forum co-founders Philips,
Sony, and Thomson) to create and manufacture the Plus RW (+RW), and later the Plus R (+R)
formats. We won’t go into the details here, but the features and benefits of the technology are
somewhat different. If you are interested in the details, please see: www.dvdplusrw.org and
The next generation: HD-DVD
The DVD Forum has been struggling to gain
agreement on a single standard for the nextgeneration DVD format, to be known as HD-DVD
(high-definition or high-density DVD). Current
standard DVD technology accommodates up to
4.7 GB per single layer on a single side; HD-DVD
proposals specify single-sided capacities of up to
27GB. Several formats are contenders including
(but not limited to) those mentioned below.
Blue versus red laser technology
Blu-ray and several other HD-DVD technologies
are based on a short wavelength blue-violet laser,
rather than on the current-standard red laser.
Of the major contenders listed below, all but
HD-DVD-9 use blue-laser technology, which is not
compatible with legacy red-laser DVD devices or
with industry-standard replication equipment.
• While HD-DVD-9, backed primarily by Warner
Brothers, is red-laser based, it will require players
to handle a new video encoding format and a
higher data rate.
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• Advanced Optical Disc (AOD) or DVD2,
primarily supported by Toshiba and NEC, is
a modification of the existing DVD physical
format to enable about 15 GB per layer using a
blue-ultraviolet readout laser. AOD is designed to
improve data capacity while theoretically being
able to use existing replication equipment.
• Under development by LG, Panasonic, Philips,
Pioneer, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Sharp,
Sony, and Thomson, blue-laser based Blu-ray
Disc (BD) will require significant changes to
production equipment and all-new players. Bluray Discs will hold 23 to 27 GB per layer. Blu-ray is
initially intended for home recording, professional recording, and data recording.
Sony released the first BD recorder in Japan
in April 2003. Mass-market distribution of
prerecorded movies will come later, after the
read-only format, called BD-ROM, is developed
and the details of video, audio, interactivity,
and copy protection are hammered out.
Will HD-DVD make DVDs obsolete?
HD discs (red- or blue-laser based) will not play
on existing players, although HD-DVD-9 discs
could play on DVD PCs with the right software
upgrades. HD players are likely to read existing
DVDs in addition to HD discs, so you probably
won’t have to replace your whole collection.
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None of the recordable or rewritable formats currently available are fully compatible
with each other or with legacy players and drives. Information can be found on the
Web regarding specific player compatibility with different formats, but beware that
results may vary, depending on media quality, player tolerances, handling, etc. For
more information on the compatibility of specific devices, you might want to check
out the following Web sites:
• www.dvdmadeeasy.com
• www.vcdhelp.com/dvdplayers.php
• www.dvdplusrw.org/Compatibility.asp
The industry is working to rectify this problem with manufacturers now offering
combination devices. The DVD Forum has developed a certification program that
guarantees compatibility with DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD-RAM for those devices
displaying the DVD Multi logo. A DVD Multi player can read all three formats;
a DVD Multi writer can record all three formats.
Application layer: three DVD formats
The application layer defines how data is stored on the disc, and how it is played
in a DVD player or computer drive. The DVD-ROM application format, based on
the UDF file system for optical media, is the foundation of the application layer.
Some portion of what is recorded on every DVD will be in the pure DVD-ROM
format. DVD-Video and DVD-Audio each define a more restricted logical format,
comprised of video or audio (or both) format specifications, interactivity, and other
rules including file-naming conventions. DVD-Video and DVD-Audio files must be
placed in special folders within the DVD-ROM directory, called VIDEO-TS and
AUDIO-TS, respectively. You don’t need to understand all the nuances of DVD file
structures to create DVDs; your DVD-authoring application will create valid DVD
volume and file structures for you.
Any or all of the three application formats—DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, and
DVD-Audio—can be stored on any of the three physical formats (with some
variations). But, as you may have guessed, not all application formats can be
played back on all devices.
• DVD-ROM has significantly larger capacity and achieves higher speed data
retrieval than the CD-ROM application layer, making it an excellent medium
for video games and other multimedia applications. For the most part, the
DVD-ROM application format can only be played back by computer DVD
drives. There are some proprietary DVD-ROM formats that may only be played
back by specialized devices (video game platforms, for example, like Sony
PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, and so on.)
Note: Don’t confuse the application format with the physical format—remember
that DVD-ROM discs (the physical format) can have any or all of the three application formats recorded on them, and are compatible with most any DVD device;
it is the application format, DVD-ROM, that can only be played back on computers or other specialized devices.
• DVD-Video, often referred to as simply DVD, provides excellent picture and
sound quality, as well as the functionality needed to support interactive entertainment. How good is “excellent?” With capabilities far superior to VHS,
DVD-Video offers near-cinema-quality video and can provide better-than-CDquality audio. But, as with any medium capable of delivering high quality, the
methods used in content creation and reproduction can diminish the ideal.
DVD-Video typically uses MPEG-2 compression, a method that may result in
occasionally noticeable artifacts, especially when backgrounds are complex or
scenes change quickly, but more often when the compression process is not
The DVD-Video format accommodates all
of the following features. However, not
all DVD-Video productions take advantage
of all the available features.
1. MPEG-1 or MPEG-2; CBR or VBR
(constant or variable bit rate) encoding
2. Up to eight tracks of digital audio may
be associated with a video track to
accommodate multiple languages or
DVS, for example; and each audio track
may have as many as eight channels;
each audio track can be in one of five
formats: Dolby Digital, MPEG-2 audio,
3. A choice of aspect ratios and formats:
fullscreen (4:3), widescreen (16:9),
and pan-and-scan
4. Up to nine different video tracks, also
known as camera angles, typically
used for different viewpoints (for example, view of entire concert orchestra
versus close-up on soloist)
5. Subpictures allow up to 32 subtitle sets
for multilingual or other titling options,
in addition to Closed Captioning
6. Interactivity made possible by automatic seamless branching of video, for
varying story lines or audience ratings
(for example, PG versus R)—a way to
provide parental management
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7. Menus and features that facilitate
interactivity such as random navigation
when video is chapterized, as well as
edutainment opportunities such as
Q&A, multiple-choice and true/false
games and quizzes
8. Web enhancement that can extend the
audience’s experience beyond
the DVD
9. Region Coding, limiting playback to
devices purchased in the same region
—a plan to control distribution
10. Built-in Content Protection
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performed optimally. As MPEG encoding technology has evolved, and as technicians’
compression skills have improved, the bar has been raised for generally accepted
levels of quality for DVD-Video.
The quality of the audio portion of DVD-Video is similarly dependent upon the
quality of the original material and how well it is processed and encoded. Capable of
higher sampling sizes and rates than audio CD, DVD-Video offers the potential for
superb sound quality. The audio for most prerecorded movies available on DVDs
typically takes advantage of multichannel surround sound using Dolby Digital or
DTS audio compression similar to the cinema sound formats used in theaters.
DVD-Video can be played by DVD players and computer drives, although some
incompatibilities may occur depending on the physical format.
• DVD-Audio is a separate specification, designed to replace CD as the standard distribution medium for music. It includes the capability for even higher quality audio than
DVD-Video. The DVD-Audio format delivers what Toshiba Corp. characterize as “a
vivid, you-are-there audio experience.” With fewer than 200 DVD-Audio titles available at the end of 2001, you might wonder why music DVDs have not proliferated at
the same rate as movie DVDs and why DVD-Audio is not often found in combination
with DVD-Video on major motion picture releases.
The completion of the DVD-Audio format specification came late, with the introduction of DVD-Audio to the mass market lagging behind DVD-Video by nearly four
years. The music industry has been less than enthusiastic about retooling for music
DVD, and issues related to copyright protection remain at the forefront of ongoing
delays. Furthermore, there is a shortage of good authoring software for DVD-Audio.
But the most significant hurdle, at present, is that DVD-Audio content is stored on the
DVD disc in a separate DVD-Audio zone (the AUDIO_TS directory) that legacy DVDVideo players were not designed to read. So the DVD-Audio format, when recorded on
a disc, requires a separate device for playback, or a new universal player, also known as
a VCAP (video-capable audio player), that can play both the DVD-Video and the
DVD-Audio formats. DVDs can, however, be authored to include both DVD-Audio
and a Dolby Digital version of the audio stored in the DVD-Video zone, so that
audiences can have a choice, depending on what type of player they have.
DVD-Video offers an array of features that give audiences unprecedented choices.
Other DVD-Video features, such as Region Coding and copyright protection, limit
audience options. When you create your own DVD content, you can choose which
features to incorporate into your DVD productions.
The next section explores DVD-Video features, focusing on the video basics you’ll want
to understand to make the best decisions for your DVD productions. In this Primer, we
do not cover digital video basics. To learn more about digital video, please download the
Adobe Digital Video Primer at www.adobe.com/motion/events/pdfs/dvprimer.pdf
If widescreen had not found popular acceptance
at the movies in the 1950s, 3D might have been
a feature choice on DVDs today, and we’d all
be wearing those silly 3D glasses in our living
rooms. Find out why in the next section!
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A single frame of uncompressed
video takes about 1 megabyte
(1 MB) of space to store.
You can calculate this by
multiplying the horizontal
resolution (720 pixels) by the
vertical resolution (486 pixels),
and then multiplying by 3 bytes
for the RGB color information.
At the standard video rate of
29.97 frames per second, this
would result in more than
30 MB of storage required
for each and every second of
uncompressed video!
It would, therefore, take over
1.5 gigabytes (GB) to hold a
minute of uncompressed video!
A single layer of DVD can hold up to 4.7 GB of data. That may sound like a lot, but we’re
talking video here. It takes more than 1.5 GB of data to describe just a minute of broadcastquality video at full resolution and frame rate. “So just how,” you are probably wondering,
“Does DVD cram two Hollywood hours onto a single-layer, single-sided disc that should
only have enough capacity for about three New York minutes?” Through the magic of video
compression and the evolution of a technology so significant that it was awarded an Emmy.
What is compression? What’s a codec?
In order to conserve storage space, as well as to make data easier to convey and process, the
amount of digital information used to describe video is reduced, or compressed, before
being recorded onto DVDs. DVD players decompress the data for playback.
Compression is a form of encoding, but not all encoding is compression. Compression and
decompression is handled by a codec, which is an acronym for “compressor/decompressor.”
You may also hear that it’s shorthand for “encoder/decoder,” but that is not an entirely accurate representation. The compression process is often part of the encoding process, but
encoding may encompass more than just compression. For example, the process of encoding
DVD-Video may also include adding Content Protection.
Codecs are found in hardware and software. A codec is a set of algorithms—that is, computer code—that is specifically designed to compress and decompress video or audio infor—Adobe DV Primer*
mation. A codec may be hardwired into a circuit, as is the case in DVD players and on some
video capture cards. A codec might also be entirely software-based. You may be familiar with
software-based codecs available in video editing software such as Adobe® Premiere® Pro. Adobe Encore™ DVD software, delivering creative authoring for professional DVD production, offers integrated transcoding. Adobe Encore
DVD can automatically convert your source files to the MPEG-2 video and Dolby Digital audio formats
you need, or you can manually adjust the settings to optimize your DVD compression.
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The codec used for decompression must match the codec used for compression. Different types of codecs have been
developed to handle different types of tasks—some codecs are better than others for compressing and decompressing video during the editing process; some are better suited than others for streaming video across networks; some
are fine for use in consumer video camcorders, while professionals might prefer equipment based on others. Data
compressed by a specific type of codec can only be decompressed by that same type of codec. The DVD specification
calls for MPEG compression—currently either MPEG-1 or MPEG-2. MPEG-2 is typically employed.
Making video fit into less storage space isn’t the only reason to compress it. At a hefty 1 MB per frame, uncompressed broadcast-quality video would have to be read and processed at a rate of approximately 30 MB per second,
assuming the 29.97 fps (frames per second) rate of NTSC, to be displayed in real time. If we convert the more familiar “storage” units (megabytes) into standard “shipment” units (megabits) by multiplying by 8 bits for every byte, the
result is a rate of approximately 240 Mbps (megabits per second). But DVD technology can retrieve information at a
maximum rate of only 10.08 Mbps. So, in addition to economizing on storage space, compression also reduces the
amount of data that needs to be processed over time to a much more manageable rate.
If you would like to learn more about the basics of video compression, please refer to the Adobe Digital Video
Primer at www.adobe.com/motion/events/pdfs/dvprimer.pdf
MPEG stands for the Motion Pictures Expert Group, a working group of ISO/IEC (International Organization
for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission) responsible for the development of standards
related to the coded representation of digital video and audio. Among other initiatives, the film, video, and music
industry professionals comprising MPEG define the specifications for several video encoding formats that include
compression and other features:
* www.adobe.com/motion/events/pdfs/dvprimer.pdf
The National Academy
of Television Arts and
Sciences (NATAS)
awarded its 1995-1996
Engineering Emmy for
Outstanding Achievement
in Technological
Development to the
International Organization
for Standardization (ISO)
and the International
Commission (IEC) for their
standardization work in
media related to the coded
representation of video,
audio, and continuoustone still images and
systems for digital
compression: MPEG-1,
MPEG-2, and JPEG.
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MPEG-1, limited to a frame size of 352x480 pixels (NTSC) or 352x576 pixels (PAL) and a fixed data rate
of 1.15 Mbps, was the first MPEG standard established and is still used for CD-ROMs, video CD (VCD),
and some Web video. It can be (but is only occasionally) used for DVD.
MPEG-2 has gained wide acceptance in the marketplace, and is the format most often used for DVD, as well
as for satellite and cable television transmission. MPEG-2 can provide extremely high-quality video with
frame sizes up to 720x480 pixels (NTSC) or 720x576 pixels (PAL). Readily supporting data rates in excess
of 8 Mbps (equivalent to 1 MB per second), MPEG-2 is ideal for DVD.
MPEG-3 was abandoned as the industry moved on to complete MPEG-4. (Note that MP3—which stands
for MPEG-1, Layer 3—is an audio-only compression format and should not be confused with MPEG video
formats. MP3 audio files, or “MP3s” as they are popularly known, may be saved onto DVDs, but not all
DVD players will play them).
MPEG-4 was developed to facilitate streaming video on the Web and over wireless networks, as well as
providing mechanisms for multimedia interactivity. MPEG-4, with its lower bit-rate approach, may be
adopted for HD-DVD, as previously mentioned in the “Future Recording Formats” sidebar on page 7.
Other MPEG formats are being developed, but we don’t need to go into those here.
The MPEG-2 video format includes a sophisticated codec that performs both intraframe (aka spatial) compression and interframe (aka temporal) compression.
Intraframe compression basically reduces the amount of data within individual frames by removing color
information that will be undetectable by the human eye. (This is a simplification—other compression
schemes also play a part in the intraframe compression used in the MPEG-2 format).
Interframe compression reduces the amount of data by replacing parts of some frames with mathematical
predictions or interpolations, based on preceding and (sometimes) following frames.
MPEG-2 compression generates three different types of frames:
•I frames (which serve as the keyframes in MPEG-2) take advantage of intraframe compression,
reducing the amount of information within the individual frames through color sampling, among other
means. I frames preserve more information than P or B frames and are, therefore, the “largest” in terms
of the amount of data needed to describe them.
•P frames are predictive frames, computed from previous frames, and may require less than a tenth
of the data needed for I frames.
•B frames, or bi-directional frames, are computed from both previous frames and from frames that
follow. B frames can be even smaller than P frames.
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A typical MPEG-2 sequence might look something like: I B B P B B P B B P B B P P B . Each sequence in
MPEG compression is called a Group of Pictures (GOP). In the DVD-Video format, each GOP is limited
to 18 frames for NTSC and 15 frames for PAL.
How each frame is compressed depends on the type of content. If the content is fairly static—for example,
a “talking head” shot against a plain, still background—where not much changes from frame to frame, then
few I frames will be needed, and the video can be compressed into a relatively small amount of data. But if
the content is action-oriented—for example, a soccer game, where either the action or the background moves
or changes rapidly or dramatically from frame to frame—then a greater amount of data is needed to maintain good quality and, therefore, the video cannot be compressed as much.
While MPEG-2 is an excellent compression choice for distribution, it is rarely employed while editing video.
Relying on relatively complex algorithms for their sophisticated combination of intraframe and interframe
compression, most MPEG-2 codecs take much longer to compress video than they do to decompress it, so it
just isn’t very practical for video editing. Perhaps it’s even easier to understand why MPEG-2 is a poor choice
for editing when you think about specific situations—for example, if you wanted to edit frame number 128
of your video. If frame number 128 is a P frame, the editing system might have to read frames 124, 125, 126,
and 127 to compute what frame 128 actually looks like. Or what if you want to remove frame number 556,
which happens to be an I frame? P and B frames that rely on the data describing frame number 556, may
not be able to be completely recreated. So, depending on your video editing system and how ambitious your
editing plans are, you might do some very basic editing to MPEG-2 video, but you will probably want to do
most of your video editing before applying MPEG-2 compression.
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It is important to note that not all MPEG-2 codecs are the same. MPEG-2 is not a patent; it is a set of standards—that is, specifications that must be met for the codec to qualify as MPEG-2 and for the encoding and
decoding sides of the process to mesh. Codec developers have created and continue to create a wide variety of
applications based on MPEG standards, some more eloquent or efficient than others. This is most significant
when considering the encoding side of the process, which can greatly impact the quality of the resulting
decoded video. So long as the standard continues to be MPEG-2, the decoder chip in players will not need to
change to yield better quality for video that has been compressed with better encoding technology.
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If the content planned for
a DVD is short relative to
the disc capacity—under
an hour for a DVD-5, perhaps—there is no need
for VBR (Variable Bit Rate)
encoding because the entire
program will fit, even if it is
all encoded at the 8.6 peak
video bit rate for DVD. If
the content is long—two
hours, for example—the
average rate would need to
be cut by half—to approximately 4 Mbps—in order
to fit. But complex scenes
generally require at least 6
Mbps for acceptable quality.
VBR encoding allows bits
to be saved in the simpler
scenes—such as a conversation between two people
shot against a relatively
static background—that
may require no more than
2Mbps. Saved bits can be
reallocated to the more
complex scenes—such as
those with lots of action.
MPEG-2 can be encoded in either the CBR (Constant Bit Rate) or VBR (Variable Bit Rate) mode. Which you
choose is likely to depend on the length of your program and the nature of your content.
CBR, or Constant Bit Rate encoding, as its name describes, means that compression is applied to yield a
fixed, or constant, bit rate throughout the program. Meanwhile, the quality of the compressed video is
allowed to vary. If CBR is used, it is important to be sure that a high enough data rate is selected to compress
all the content well. So the data rate should be based on the portions of the video that are the most complex.
If too low a data rate is selected, too much compression may be applied to portions of the program with lots
of motion and change, causing the quality to degrade. Conversely, in those portions of the program without
much action, the compression may not be very efficient—in effect, wasting bandwidth. CBR is fine, and often
preferable, for short subjects and non action-oriented video.
VBR, or Variable Bit Rate encoding, considers quality first, adjusting the data rate to yield an appropriate
amount of compression, depending on the content. VBR may yield the same average data rate as CBR, but
the actual rate will vary from scene to scene (see example to the left). Less compression is applied (that is,
more data is allocated) to the more complex portions of the program, more compression (less data) to the
simpler sequences. A minimum and maximum allowable rate are specified, providing the guidelines needed
to keep the entire program to an acceptable size and data rate. When trying to fit a long program onto a DVD
disc, VBR can make the difference between success and having to choose a more costly alternative.
It may seem like we’ve come back to math, again, when you just want to make video DVDs, but this is probably a good place to point out that the more extra features you want to include on your DVD, the more you
will need to be concerned with keeping an accurate accounting of how the data is adding up. In addition to
the video, you’ll need to consider the data rate of the audio, at 192-448 Kbps per Dolby Digital stream, with
up to eight streams supported; the rate of subtitles, at 4 Kbps per language or other track, with up to 32
tracks allowed. The math is really easy—just take the maximum data transfer rate of 10.08 Mbps for DVDVideo (i.e., video, audio, and subtitles combined) and subtract the total of the audio and subtitle tracks, as
well as approximately 0.4 Mbps for headroom. What’s left is the maximum available data rate for your most
complex scenes. (Note that the maximum data transfer rate for video alone can be no greater than 9.8 Mbps.)
The bottom line is, if you are planning a complex project, plan ahead—and understand that sometimes
compromises need to be made. Even on Hollywood-produced DVDs, the featurettes are often more highly
compressed than the main feature.
For example:
Maximum DVD-Video transfer rate
10.08 Mbps
- 0.4
5.1-channel (surround) English soundtrack
- 0.384
Two 2-channel (stereo) soundtracks in
French and Spanish, each 0.192 Mbps
- 0.384
Peak data rate available for video
8.912 Mbps
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Because this Primer is on
DVD-Video, this section focuses on
digital audio for the DVD-Video
format. It does not address the
DVD-Audio format.
Digital audio for the DVD-Video format is capable of producing extraordinary sound quality, as well as
many flexible options. Up to eight audio streams, or soundtracks, can be delivered on a single disc,
including different language versions and DVS (see sidebar). DVD-Video can also deliver multiple audio
coding formats on a single disc, for mono, stereo, and 5.1-channel surround sound. The number and
types of streams that can be combined is flexible, but all must fit into the available bandwidth.
Digital audio basics
There’s a lot to know about audio
for DVD-Video... Adobe Encore DVD
makes preparing your audio assets
for DVD projects easier with
automated transcoding presets for
the audio formats you need. Easily
convert audio source files to 48KHz
using the integrated sample rate
conversion capability. And Adobe
Encore DVD supports two channels
of Dolby Digital audio.
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DVS (Descriptive Video Service)
is a national service (in the U.S.)
that makes visual media accessible
to people who are blind or
visually impaired.
A DVS audio track on a DVD
describes key visual elements
such as action, costumes, gestures,
and scene changes. Descriptive
narration is carefully crafted and
applied so as not to interfere
with the program dialogue or
original soundtrack.
For more information, visit
Sound engineers toss around a lot of technical terms. But the basic principles underlying digital audio
are not too dissimilar from those upon which digital imagery and, therefore, digital video are based.
Film and video work by stringing together still snapshots and relying on “persistence of vision” to recreate the sense of continuous motion. Similarly, digital audio takes audio snapshots, or samples of sound,
thousands of times each second. The number of samples—that is, the sampling rate—is quoted in
thousands of samples per second, or kilohertz. The kilohertz measure is abbreviated as KHz, where the
“kilo” (K) number stands for 000s of samples, and “hertz” (Hz) denotes “per second.” For example,
44,100 samples per second would be represented as 44.1 KHz, which is the sampling rate of audio CD.
A higher sampling rate results in greater accuracy in digitally mapping the analog audio waveforms
of the original sound.
The bit depth used for samples is also an important factor in determining the accuracy of digital audio.
Bit depth is the number of bits used to describe each sample. Because bits are binary (that is, representing a value of 1 or 0), each bit added doubles the potential for accuracy. At 16-bit depth, there are
65,536 possible levels; at 24-bit depth there are 16,777, 216 levels available to describe the audio sample.
The zones between these discrete levels are called “quantizing intervals.” When a sound falls between
levels (that is, within a quantizing interval), it cannot be accurately represented and must be aproximated by rounding up or down to the nearest level—such rounding is referred to as “quantization noise.”
This is all getting a bit complicated. What you should take away from this Primer is that higher resolution (that is, more bit depth) usually leads to greater dynamic range: the dynamic range of 16-bit is
96 dB (decibels); the dynamic range of 24-bit is 144 dB. In other words: a greater bit depth yields a
more accurate digital representation of the original, analog audio waveform.
When you multiply sampling rate by bit depth by the number of channels used (for example, 2 for
stereo; 6 for 5.1 surround), the result is the data rate—which is equivalent to the bandwidth needed to
deliver the audio. The maximum data rate of audio CD, for example, can be figured as follows:
44,100 (sampling rate) X 16 (bit depth) X 2 (stereo channels) = 1,411,200 bits per second (1.4 Mbps)
The digitized audio waveform, when uncompressed, is known as PCM, short for “pulse code modulation.” PCM may be “linear” or “nonlinear”: linear PCM (LPCM) (which may be used for DVD) spreads
values evenly across the range from highest to lowest; nonlinear PCM uses a nonlinear
quantization curve to allocate values based on dynamic range.
Audio compression
In addition to lossless—that is, uncompressed—digital audio (LPCM), DVD-Video supports four types
of lossy audio compression: MPEG audio (both MPEG-1 and MPEG-2), Dolby Digital, DTS, and the
ATRAC compression format used by SDDS (for descriptions of these formats, see “Audio formats for
DVD-Video” on page 13 of this Primer).
Humans notice loss of detail in what we hear much more than in what we see, so when encoding for
DVD, less compression is applied to the audio than to the video. Because audio takes up a lot less space
to begin with, you might wonder why we would bother to compress it at all—but the bottom line is
that even the small amount of space gained by compressing audio provides enough room to yield
a significant improvement in the quality of the video.
Video compression, as we have seen, uses two basic methods to reduce data:
• perceptual (intraframe) compression removes irrelevant visual information (mostly color) from
individual frames that the human eye is incapable of perceiving or unlikely to perceive
• temporal (interframe) compression removes redundant information, from frame to frame.
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Dolby Digital is the audio encoding format
(and associated compression method) most
commonly employed for commercial applications of the DVD-Video format. Dolby Digital
is not synonymous with 5.1 surround sound;
it is an encoding format that can be used for
mono, dual-mono, stereo, Dolby Surround or
any of eight different configurations including
5.1 surround. Dolby Digital encodes each
channel separately (rather than matrix
encoding—see below) to produce discrete
multichannel audio (as opposed to psychoacoustic surround systems—like Dolby
Surround—that use two speakers to create the
illusion of surround sound). Virtually every DVD
player, worldwide, has a built-in Dolby Digital
decoder. If the system does not support discrete
multichannel audio, the Dolby Digital decoder
in the DVD player can downmix multichannel
audio to two channels.
Dolby Digital Surround EX can, with the
appropriate decoder installed in the system,
extract an additional matrix-encoded surround
channel, known as the back surround channel,
to be sent to a speaker in the center rear of the
listening environment. In effect, this can yield
6.1-channel surround sound. Listeners with a
5.1 channel set-up don’t lose the back surround
channel information; it remains mixed with the
left surround and right surround channels.
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Matrix encoding is the process of combining multiple channels into a standard,
two-channel stereo signal.
Dolby Surround is an audio-encoding
technique that uses matrix encoding to blend
rear and center channels into a two-channel
signal. Dolby Surround can be played on any
stereo or mono system to achieve a psychoacoustic surround simulation. However, when
Dolby Surround is played back on a multichannel system that has a Dolby Surround decoder,
the left right, and rear channels are separated
and fed to the designated speakers.
If the playback device is equipped with Dolby
Pro-Logic, the center channel is also extracted.
The Dolby Surround technique can be
employed by analog audio, broadcast audio,
PCM audio, Dolby Digital, DTS, MP3, or virtually
any audio format.
Dolby Pro-Logic is the process of (and the
processing circuit for) extracting the center
and rear audio surround channels from matrixencoded audio. The newer Dolby Pro-Logic II
also processes the signals to generate more
of a 3D audio experience.
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In digital audio compression, blocks of samples are divided
into frequency bands of equal or varying widths, and these
bands are analyzed to determine how the compression will
be applied. Audio compression uses similar methods to
video compression:
• Perceptual coding removes irrelevant audio information the human ear won’t perceive—either because it
is out of the range of our hearing or because it is
masked (that is, ignored by the human ear in favor
of much louder sounds occurring concurrently, just
prior to, or immediately following softer sounds).
• Channel reduction removes redundant audio information between channels, especially when there are
six or eight channels.
Audio formats for DVD-Video
MPEG-2, Dolby Digital, and linear PCM (LPCM) are the
three primary audio formats supported by DVD-Video.
The DTS and SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) formats are optionally supported,
but, because these two formats are not required, not all players support them. DVDVideo for NTSC is required to include at least one track of either Dolby Digital or
LPCM audio; DVD-Video for PAL must offer at least one track of Dolby Digital,
MPEG, or PCM audio. Dolby Digital is currently the format most widely used for
audio on DVD-Video.
Linear PCM (LPCM) is the lossless digital audio format used on most studio masters,
as well as on audio CDs. For DVD-Video, LPCM can be sampled at 48 or 96 KHz at
up to 24 bits, but some DVD players may subsample 96 KHz down to 48 and may
not use all 20 or 24 bits. From one to eight channels are available, but sample rates
and bit depth may be limited when five or more channels are used. The maximum bit
rate is 6.144 Mbps. LPCM is rarely used for DVD-Video because of the bandwidth
needed for multichannel implementations. However, tests indicate that the average
listener is unable to tell the difference between uncompressed LPCM and MPEG-2 or
Dolby Digital audio for DVD, which are usually compressed at about 10:1.
MPEG-1 audio delivers either monophonic or stereophonic audio and can only be
CBR. It divides samples into frequency bands of equal widths, which is easier to
implement but less accurate than using variable widths. MPEG-1 offers three compression techniques, called “layers.” Layer II is the only one of the three MPEG-1 formats specified for DVD. (Layer III, also known as MP3, is the popular compression
format for music distributed via the Internet and, although not supported in the
DVD standard, some players will play MP3 files).
MPEG-2 audio allows VBR encoding to efficiently accommodate transient increases
in signal complexity; although, in practice, this can prove to be problematic in
passages where video and audio require simultaneous peaks, thereby pushing the
combined data rate past the limit. It also adds multiple channels to produce (with
the use of extensions) 5.1- or even up to 7.1-channel audio. Because MPEG-1 and -2
audio encoding for stereo is identical, MPEG-2 audio is backward compatible with
MPEG-1 decoders.
Dolby Digital was designed with consumer delivery in mind and has, thereby,
achieved a lead position in adoption over other multichannel systems. Most all DVDs
offer a Dolby Digital soundtrack, and there’s a Dolby Digital decoder built into
virtually every DVD player, worldwide, that turns Dolby Digital into standard analog
stereo audio, which can be played back by most any type of audio equipment
including a standard TV. Dolby Digital audio compression, aka AC-3, enables
frequency bands of varying widths that match the critical bands of human hearing,
5.1 audio offers five
full-range channels—left,
right, center, left surround,
and right surround. A sixth
channel, specifically for
the rumbling LFE (lowfrequency effects) which,
in theaters, are more often
felt than heard, is given the
“.1” designation because LFE
requires only about onetenth the bandwidth of the
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resulting in smoother sound than what can be achieved by fixed-width schemes. Dolby Digital also offers
other features, such as dynamic range compression (DRC) and dialog normalization (DN) that allow volume
levels to be tweaked by the listener to accommodate various situations. Dolby Digital provides for up to 5.1
channels of audio to create surround sound.
Digital Theater Systems (DTS), an optional format, was originally developed for theaters, but a home-theater version was developed that has become popular for DVD among audiophiles. DTS for DVD is usually
compressed at 6:1 or 3:1, and some listeners report that the quality is better than MPEG-2 or Dolby Digital
(both compressed at about 10:1). But differences may only be perceptible for playback on very high-end
audio systems. DTS requires a special decoder, either in the DVD player or in an external receiver. Dolby
Digital or PCM audio are required on NTSC discs, so all DTS DVDs also carry a Dolby Digital soundtrack
because PCM and DTS together don’t usually leave enough bandwidth for the video encoding of a fulllength movie.
Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS), an optional multichannel audio format for DVD, is based on a theatrical soundtrack format that uses a type of compression called ATRAC. While SDDS is written into the DVD
specification, it is a professional format intended only for motion picture theaters. Its eight-channel configuration, with five loudspeakers behind the screen, is not intended for typical 5.1 channel home systems so,
unless SONY develops a consumer-targeted version of SDDS, it is unlikely to be used for DVD.
Linear PCM
48 or 96 KHz
16, 20, or 24 bits
From 1 to 8
6.144 Mbps maximum
MPEG Audio
48 KHz
16 or 20 bits
From 1 to 7.1
32 to 912 kbps (384 kbps
normal average)
Dolby Digital
48 KHz
up to 24 bits
From 1 to 5.1
(5.2 with new
Surround ES
64 to 448 kbps (384 or 448
kbps recommended for 5.1
DTS (Digital
Theater Systems)
48 KHz
up to 24 bits
From 1 to 5.1
(5.2 with new
Surround ES
64 to 1536 kbps (typical
rates of 754.5 and 1509.25
for 5.1 channels and 377 or
754 for 2 channels)
SDDS (Sony
Dynamic Digital
48 KHz
up to 24 bits
8 (in theaters)
Up to 1280 kbps
THX (Tomlinson Holman Experiment) is not an audio format. It is a patented certification and quality-control solution applied to commercial and home sound systems, theater acoustics, and
digital mastering processes. The LucasFilm THX Digital Mastering program is a patented process and service
for tracking video quality, step-by-step, through the multiple video generations needed to make a final format
disc or tape.
Karaoke mode
Karaoke mode allows for five channels: two for stereo left and right (L and R) that are typically instrumental
only, two optional vocal channels (V1 and V2) that may be used for harmonies,
and an optional melody (M) or guide (G) channel that can help the karaoke singer carry the
tune. Karaoke mode can only be fully implemented by DVD players with karaoke features for mixing the
recorded audio and microphone input. All five audio formats for DVD-video
support karaoke mode.
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The yellow crop indicates the 1.37 (4:3)
aspect ratio of the standard camera lens,
the classic Academy Aperture, and TV.
The red crop selects a widescreen, or
“scope” view, with a 2.35 aspect ratio.
Shot with an
anamorphic lens,
the widescreen
(red) crop shown
above would
look like this on film—remember that
film frames have a 1.37 aspect ratio, so
the widescreen image, with a wider
aspect ratio, must be squeezed to fit.
Shot with a standard 4:3 camera lens,
the scene would look like this—as
indicated by the yellow crop in the
top illustration—perfect for standard
television viewing.
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Projected through an anamorphic lens,
the image expands to look like this—
exactly like the original (red) crop above.
Masking either the camera lens or the
projected image yields a similar widescreen look to using anamorphic lenses,
but the quality is not the same—there
is a loss in picture resolution.
This section has a little math, a little Hollywood history, a little about digital television—and it’s
a little long. But stick with it—you’ll eventually want to understand concepts like “anamorphic,”
which we’ve tried to make comprehensible here—even for non-techies. We’ll get the math part
over quickly, with just a couple of sentences: The width to height ratio of an image is termed its
aspect ratio. The 35mm still photography film frames on which motion picture film was originally based have a 4:3 (width:height) ratio, which is often expressed as 1.33:1 or, simply, a 1.33 aspect
ratio (multiplying the height by 1.33 yields the width). There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
Standard TV matches the Academy Aperture (4:3=1.33:1 or 1.37:1)
In 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences endorsed the 1.33 aspect ratio as
the industry standard and it came to be known as the Academy Aperture. In 1931, the Academy
Aperture was modified slightly to 1.37 to make room for a sound track. For the 60 years from
1917 to 1952, the 4:3 image area aspect ratio was used almost exclusively to make movies and
to determine the shape of theater screens. When television was developed, existing camera
lenses all used the 4:3 format, so the same aspect ratio was chosen as standard for the new
broadcast medium.
Widescreen, aka “scope” formats (1.66:1–2.76:1)
In the early 1950s, the motion picture industry began to see television as a threat. In a frenzy to
ensure that audiences left their living rooms and kept frequenting the cinema, all manner of
gimmicks were tried, from color and sound innovations to 3D. In fact, if it weren’t for the
competition from black-and-white TV, it might have been much later before color was widely
adopted for movies. Color technology was available as early as 1906 but, despite a few classic films
like “The Phantom of the Opera” being shot in color in the 1920s, it was dismissed as too costly.
One crowd-pleaser that withstood the test of time was a wider aspect ratio. Widescreen offered
audiences a “you-are-there” experience of panoramic cinematography. Based on a technique patented in the 1920s, Cinemascope was the first commercially successful widescreen format, making
its debut in 1953 with the film “The Robe.” To produce an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 without having to
manufacture special film, cameras, or projectors, special anamorphic lenses were used. The
anamorphic lens used on the camera for shooting widescreen squeezed the image width to fit on
standard 4:3 format film. To show the movie, another anamorphic lens, one that stretched the
image back to normal, was fitted to the projector. And, of course, this new extra-wide aspect ratio
required an extra-wide screen. During the height of “scope” fever, the widest popular American
film made was “Ben Hur,” with an aspect ratio of 2.76:1. A host of copycat scope formats were
introduced (Warnerscope, Technicscope, Panascope, and others), but the prohibitive cost of the
special anamorphic lenses needed for both shooting and projecting, as well as the exhibitor’s reliance on often unreliable projectionists to remember to attach the special lens to the projector,
meant anamorphic “scope” techniques were reserved only for the most extravagant productions.
In the mid 1950s, someone realized that the scope effect could be achieved inexpensively—
without anamorphic lenses—by shooting standard film through a viewfinder marked with the
desired wide aspect ratio so the cinematographer could properly compose the shot. When the film
was shown, the top and bottom of the projected image were masked off by covering the projection lens with a cheap cardboard matte. (The projector was simply slid back a few feet, so that the
image would not appear too small to fill the screen.) This technique, known as soft matte, was
the manner by which cost-effective scope films were made for many years, with aspect ratios
ranging from 1.66 to 1.86. But exhibitors still had to rely on projectionists to attach the matte.
If they forgot, the occasional microphone boom or prop-man’s hand that went unnoticed by a
cinematographer focused on the widescreen image area might be seen at the top or bottom
of the picture.
The seemingly obvious solution, which put the control back into the hands of the directors, was
a technique known as hard matte whereby a mask is applied to the camera lens when shooting
(rather than masking the projector when exhibiting). This is exactly what the industry did for the
next many years—to filmmakers’ later chagrin.
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It wasn’t long before the industry realized there was money to be made from repurposing film content for TV
and, more significantly, videotapes for sale and rent. But what to do, now, with all these films shot for
widescreen, both anamorphic and hard matte, neither very well suited for viewing in TV’s 1.33 aspect ratio?
There were four apparent choices:
1. Slice off the sides—Initially, the most common solution, because most of the action in most films is in
the center of the screen anyway, and the prevailing notion was that audiences wouldn’t really know
what they were missing.
2. Squeeze the image horizontally—Typically done, as you may have noticed, only for titles
and credits of higher-budget, extra-wide, anamorphic productions.
3. Pan-and-scan—Using video editing software, an editor slides a 4:3 mask around, frame-by-frame, following the action. The editor chooses where to pan (or even zoom) each frame, selecting (in the editor’s opinion) the most critical portion. When presented on a standard TV, pan-and-scan fills the
screen. The choices made by the editor should be an improvement over the simple slice-off-the-sides
technique, but all manner of alterations to the original widescreen material may occur, such as unintended cuts where the action switches rapidly from one side of the screen to the other, characters lost
from the ends of frames, and so on.
DPs (Directors of Photography) and film connoisseurs of every stripe tend to deplore any and all of the three
aforementioned techniques, which alter the film from its intended form. Instead, those in-the-know prefer
the last of the four options:
4. Letterboxing—By simply placing black bars above and below the widescreen image to block out the
unused portions of a standard 4:3 television set, the widescreen aspect ratio is preserved, as it was originally intended to be viewed.
By squeezing the image horizontally,
widescreen can be made to fit 4:3 TV, but
the picture, if shown this way, is distorted.
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Widescreen can be made to fit 4:3 TV by slicing off the
sides. The image fills the screen, but much of it is lost.
What if there were two ships, at the far ends of the shot?
With pan-and-scan, a video editor selects the “best”
crop, by panning and/or zooming the widescreen,
frame-by-frame. If there were two ships, the editor
would be forced to show just one.
Letterbox preserves all the information
in the widescreen format, placing black
bars above and below the image.
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Aspect ratios and today’s motion pictures
Common production
Fast forward to the 21st century. Projectors have been permanently fitted with a set of mattes which, when
selected, mask soft matte films for either 1.66 or the more common 1.85 widescreen aspect ratios. Most films
are shot soft matte, with view-finders equipped with frame indicators for both the standard 1.37 aperture and
the selected widescreen aspect ratio, to help the cinematographer design shots that will look good when displayed in either format. The three most common formats are:
• Flat—the new Academy standard, with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, typically shot
soft matte (making it easy to repurpose the production for standard TV)
Scope (2.35:1)
• Scope—usually for higher budget features, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, shot
anamorphically, converted to widescreen in the lab when distribution prints are
made (rather than exhibited using an anamorphic lens on the projector)
Flat/Academy Standard (1.85:1)
Academy Aperture (1.37:1)
• 4:3—the classic Academy Aperture, typically used for made-for-TV features;
often used for animated features with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1
Many animated features and some European films are in the 1.66 aspect ratio. Special wide-format films,
requiring special cameras and projectors, have also found periods of vogue, most notably 70mm (2.20:1)
and IMAX, as well as the Super 35 format used by James Cameron for “The Abyss” and Ron Howard for
“Apollo 13.”
TV today
Television is going digital. Analog TV is going away. But the transition is going to take some time. No one
expects consumers to suddenly throw away all their old TVs and buy all new. And, despite the wide adoption
of digital television delivery via cable and to satellite, the programming is still, for the most part, engineered
for analog broadcast and viewing—that is, set top boxes convert the digital signal back to the analog NTSC
standard (in the U.S.) before sending the signal to the TV. The U.S. Government has mandated a full
conversion of American television broadcasting to Digital TV (DTV) by 2006 to make better use of
available bandwidth.
DTV comes in two flavors:
• Standard Definition Television (SDTV) is quite similar to standard DVD. It can have a 4:3 or a 16:9
aspect ratio and has resolution roughly equivalent to a conventional analog signal (525 lines of vertical
resolution for NTSC).
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• High Definition Television (HDTV) offers the potential for approximately twice the horizontal and
vertical resolution of current analog (NTSC) television. When combined with the compulsory 16:9
widescreen format, this can result in about five times as much visual information as analog TV. It also
takes approximately five times the bandwidth to broadcast as SDTV.
TV sets available on the market today are not all HDTV-capable or -ready—even the Widescreen (16:9) TVs.
But the sets that savvy consumers are buying today are, at least, SDTV-ready, meaning that they are equipped
to accept a digital signal directly (although most also include analog inputs). This means we can connect
our DV camcorders, digital VCRs, and our DVD players to our new TV sets via IEEE 1394 or DVI to achieve
a pristine, noiseless picture. But we digress—this section is about aspect ratios.
Aspect ratios and today’s TVs
Because DTV is designed for two different aspect ratios, so are TV sets:
• Fullscreen TV: In the first decade of the 21st century, the standard television set still has a 4:3 (1.37)
aspect ratio, also known as “Fullscreen.” (For the rest of this Primer, we’ll refer to 4:3 TV as Fullscreen.)
It’s the perfect shape for viewing films shot in the classic Academy Aperture format, but not so good
for “Scope,”
(as widescreen films—Flat, Scope, or any aspect ratio wider than 4:3—have come to be called whether or not
they have been shot with anamorphic techniques).
Fullscreen TV = 4:3 (1.37)
Studio-letterboxed video includes black bars
in each and every frame of video stored on
the DVD; anamorphic video does not.
Why is this so important?
Each video frame stored on a DVD is
comprised of 720x480 pixels. If, as is the
case for video that is letterboxed prior to
being recorded, 25% of the available
pixels are used up for black bars at the top
and bottom of the widescreen image, there
are fewer pixels available to store the actual
video information.
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Anamorphic video, on the other hand, uses all
available pixels to store as much video information as possible. So every one of those
720x480 pixels carries video information.
(Those of you with calculators handy may
note that the aspect ratio of 720x480 is 1.5:
1—closer to the standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio
than it is to most Scope aspect ratios—which
results in anamorphic video stored in DVD format being horizontally squeezed just as
anamorphically shot Scope film is squeezed.)
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Widescreen TV = 16:9 (1.78)
When a DVD player decodes anamorphic
video for Fullscreen TV, it unsqeezes the image
and generates the black bars electronically;
when a Widescreen TV displays anamorphic
video, the wide pixels effectively unsqueeze
the image. In either case, more video information—which equates to higher video resolution—is available in the signal sent to the
display. Thus, when anamorphic video is displayed, the picture has better resolution than
studio-letterboxed video, which wastes pixels
storing the black matte
bars in each and every frame.
• Widescreen TV: Many consumers have, by now, purchased a
widescreen TV, with a 16:9 (1.78) aspect ratio. (For the rest of
this Primer, we’ll refer to 16:9 TV as Widescreen.) But, because
most broadcast TV and much of the video recorded on VHS,
laserdisc, and DVD is Fullscreen, Widescreen TVs can be programmed to display 4:3 in one of two ways: pillarboxing
(aka windowboxing) which electronically generates black or
gray vertical bars to fill the leftover space on the sides, or
magnifying the picture to fill the 16:9 screen (but cutting off the top and bottom
of the picture to do so). Of course, the Widescreen TV aspect ratio is much better
suited than Fullscreen for displaying Scope—it’s 16:9 (1.78) proportion is quite
close to the Academy Standard, or Flat, proportion of 1.85 in which most of
today’s films are produced. With even wider Scope aspect ratios, a letterboxed picture fits into the Widescreen shape much better than it fits the Fullscreen shape,
with less vertical space above and below the image needing to be filled with black
mattes. What’s more, Widescreen TV is specifically engineered to showcase
anamorphic widescreen—keep reading to learn how.
Aspect ratios and DVD: more choices for better or worse
With VHS and laserdisc, you got the version that was recorded. If the content was
Scope, it was either made to fill the Fullscreen TV aspect ratio by slicing off the ends
or by using pan-and-scan or it was recorded as letterbox, with the black bars at the top
and bottom of the image added in the studio and displayed as part of the video image.
When the bars are recorded as part of the image, the picture suffers from a loss of vertical resolution—on Fullscreen TVs and Widescreen TVs alike—because pixels comprising the digitally stored image must be sacrificed to accommodate the matte bars.
Widescreen TVs can be set to magnify studio-letterboxed video to fill the screen, but
this may reveal image defects too small to detect in the non-magnified image, thus
making the enlarged picture look worse.
To get the best picture possible on Widescreen TVs, digital technology borrowed the
anamorphic concept from film. The digitized video stored on DVDs (or broadcast
digitally, for that matter) can be anamorphically squeezed. The Widescreen TV pixels
themselves have a wide aspect ratio that effectively unsqueezes anamorphic pictures.
In fact, when a standard 4:3 picture is sent to a Widescreen TV, if the set is not configured properly to compensate for its wide pixels, the image display is distorted, appearing to be fat.
For Fullscreen TV, where the pixels have the traditional aspect ratio, anamorphically
squeezed video is unsqueezed by the DVD player (or set-top box, in the case of digital
broadcast) before it is sent to the display. You may have seen anamorphically squeezed
video displayed on a Fullscreen TV when the DVD player was not set up properly, and
wondered why all the actors looked like tall, skinny aliens! When the DVD player
unsqueezes anamorphic video for 4:3 display, it can (depending on how the viewer
chooses to set it up) either add black bars to the top and bottom to letterbox the picture or it can allow the image height to fill the screen, in which case the sides of the
picture will be sliced off. Some DVD players are capable of automatic pan-and-scan of
anamorphic video that includes special coding to indicate the optimal pan-and-scan
“center of interest offset.” But BUYER BEWARE! Anamorphic video, when displayed
as a result of automatic letterbox or auto pan-and-scan modes, can actually produce a
worse quality picture than
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prerecorded, studio-letterboxed or studio-panand-scan versions. Why? Keep reading!
Academy Aperture (1.37:1) fits Fullscreen
TV perfectly, because television was originally based on the classic 4:3 film format.
When Academy Aperture is displayed on
Widescreen TV, the set generates sidebars to
pillarbox (aka windowbox) the picture.
Many current DVDs are marked as Enhanced for
Widescreen, Enhanced for 16:9 TVs, or
Anamorphic, and most of these discs offer viewers two options: a studio-generated pan-and-scan
version recorded on one side of the DVD disc to
give those viewers with Fullscreen TVs the best
quality picture, and, on the other side, an
anamorphic version designed to take advantage
of Widescreen TV. Most current DVD players
have four playback modes:
• One mode for the prerecorded, studio panand-scan version:
Academy Standard, aka Flat (1.85) looks
like this when letterboxed on Fullscreen.
1.85 fits Widescreen TV just about perfectly
because the aspect ratios are very similar.
• Fullscreen—If the viewer chooses to watch
the studio-generated pan-and-scan version,
the DVD player decodes the picture and
delivers the signal to the display for playback.
On a Fullscreen TV, the picture fills the
screen. A Widescreen TV can be set up to
either pillarbox (aka windowbox) the image
by placing black bars on the sides or to
magnify the image to fill the screen. But
magnification results in loss of even more
of the picture—at top and bottom—than
has already been cropped (by the pan-andscan process) to fit the widescreen image to
the 4:3 aspect ratio. Magnification may also
reveal imperfections that might not
be noticed otherwise.
Wider Scope, for example, 2.35:1, looks like
this when letterboxed on Fullscreen TV.
When 2.35 is displayed on Widescreen TV, the
image is maximized; the matte is minimized.
Scope, when recorded for 4:3, or auto panand-scanned, looks like this on Fullscreen.
If magnified (instead of pillarboxed), the top and
bottom of 4:3 or auto pan-and-scan get cut off.
Anamorphic displayed on an improperly
set up Fullscreen system may look like this.
4:3 video displayed on an improperly set up
Widescreen system may look like this.
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• Three modes for the anamorphic version:
• Auto letterbox for 4:3—The DVD player
stretches the anamorphic video back to its
original Scope aspect ratio and generates
matte bars at the top and bottom of the
picture. Together, the black bars at top and
bottom eat up nearly 1/4 of the usable scan
lines, leaving only about 3/4 of them to draw
the image. To compensate, a letterbox filter
in the DVD player combines every four lines
into three—either by simply dropping out
every fourth line or by using weighted averaging to combine lines (in other words, not
all DVD player letterbox filters are created
equal). So, even though the anamorphic
video has higher resolution to begin with
than studio-letterboxed video would have,
this mode does not make the best use of all
the available information. The bottom line?
Often, Scope video letterboxed by high-end
studio equipment, and prerecorded on laserdisc or DVD, produces a better picture than
auto-letterboxed anamorphic video when
displayed on a Fullscreen TV.
Even individual pixels have an aspect ratio!
Square pixels, like those typically used in
graphics programs such as Adobe Illustrator®
and Adobe Photoshop®* have a 1.0 pixel
aspect ratio. But video images are comprised
of non-square pixels, the aspect ratio of which
varies from format to format.
Some common formats and their corresponding pixel aspect ratios:
D1/DV NTSC Widescreen
D1/DV PAL Widescreen
Anamorphic 2:1 (film transfer) 2.0
Adobe Encore DVD automatically scales
square-pixel graphics to fit the proper nonsquare pixel aspect ratio, so your images won’t
look squashed when viewed in a video format.
* Photoshop 7.0 and earlier supports only square pixels, but
Photoshop CS allows you to work directly in non-square
pixels, so no conversion is necessary.
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• Auto pan-and-scan—The DVD player stretches the anamorphic video back to its
original widescreen aspect ratio, but cuts off the sides according to a “center of
interest offset” specified for each frame when the video was encoded. Unlike studio
pan-and-scan, where the editor can pan from side to side or zoom or both to crop
the very best portion of the image, auto pan-and-scan can only travel laterally and
must include the full height of the widescreen frame. Moreover, when studio panand-scan is recorded on DVD, the entire allotment of 720x480 pixels is dedicated to
the cropped frame, while auto pan-and-scan may delete upwards of 25 percent of
the video’s width. That means that 720 pixels across might be reduced to 540 pixels
across, resulting in a significant loss in horizontal resolution. While the loss in resolution might not be too noticeable on a Fullscreen TV, depending on the size of the
display, if the picture is magnified on a Widescreen TV, the loss in resolution can
become distinctly noticeable. And, just as when any 4:3 picture is magnified to fill
the width of the Widescreen TV, the image—which has already been cropped horizontally—will be cropped vertically, as well. The bottom line? Generally, the studio
pan-and-scan version prerecorded on the other side of the DVD results in better
picture quality on Fullscreen and Widescreen TVs. Therefore, not many DVDs are
implementing auto pan-and-scan.
• Auto widescreen—When we all have Widescreen TVs, this is what we’ll watch. The
DVD player just decodes and sends the anamorphically squeezed video to the display; the wider aspect ratio of the Widescreen TV’s pixels effectively unsqueezes the
picture. Auto widescreen fulfills the promise of anamorphic DVD. For Academy
Standard films, with their near-16:9 aspect ratio, every available pixel is used for
image information, and every pixel recorded is displayed, resulting in a stunningly
clean, clear picture. Scope pictures that have wider aspect ratios are studio-letterboxed before the anamorphic video is recorded on DVD, so, while there is some loss
in vertical resolution, it is minimal—the matte bars at the top and bottom of the
picture are often so narrow as to hardly be noticeable.
Aspect ratios and your DVDs
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Because DTV is looming on the horizon, most of us will indeed make the leap during the next decade. Many
videophiles have already done so and have bought into Widescreen TV format. So, many digital video camcorders already have a switch that lets you toggle from the standard 4:3 aspect ratio (Academy Aperture) to a
16:9 (Widescreen) aspect ratio. The less expensive of these adjustable camcorders, however, simply lop off the
top and bottom of the image, using only 75 percent of the scan lines to create the widescreen effect, which
ultimately results in lower vertical resolution. Some more expensive, professional grade DV camcorders can
be fitted with an anamorphic lens. But, if you don’t have access to that kind of equipment, you’ll find some
tips for shooting the best widescreen possible—with affordable equipment—in the “How Do I Make a DVD”
section of this Primer.
The DVD-Video specification offers up to nine different camera angles. Angles are different views of
the same scene, shot by different cameras. They are recorded as different video tracks of the same length,
associated with the same audio tracks.
The promise
This feature was intended to offer audiences interactive choices to enrich the entertainment experience.
Video recorded simultaneously by multiple cameras can be stored on a DVD, allowing the viewer to select
the angle they prefer. For example, you might first watch a high-speed chase scene that is edited for dramatic
effect in a film. But the second time round, you might select a view shot from a different point-of-view such
as that of one of the drivers. Or, for example, if you are in the theater audience watching a live performance,
it can be difficult to observe everything happening on stage. With DVD you can switch back and forth
between the full-stage view and assorted angles.
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The perception
In reality, not many commercial DVDs actually take advantage of multi-angle capability because it takes
more work to produce and eats up disc space. In fact, the term “multi-angle title” has become linked with
adult entertainment (i.e., X-rated) DVDs, which often offer this capability as a value-added feature.
The possibilities
Well maybe you aren’t a Hollywood producer, and maybe you’re not making X-rated pictures either, but
if you are a commercial videographer, or if you are responsible for developing and distributing video content
for business or industry, if you are a marketer, a trainer, or an educator then you can probably see the
extraordinary possibilities that DVD’s multiple camera angle feature might enable. Here are just a few ideas:
• A how-to DVD might show the construction, assembly, or maintenance of a complex piece of
equipment from several different angles.
• A training DVD could walk retail or restaurant employees through an in-store situation from the
perspective of a sales associate, a store manager, or through the eyes of the customer.
• A wedding ceremony might be seen as viewed by the guests, through a close-up of the bride’s or groom’s
face, or from numerous angles that have been artfully edited together.
•A sequence in a science lesson might describe a natural process, such as mitosis, with the option to view
either actual time-lapse video or an animated and annotated representation in the place of an alternate
camera angle.
What are subpictures?
Subpictures overlaid on top of background video or still images are typically used to provide subtitles,
karaoke lyrics, instructions, or other text. But subpictures are not limited to text only. Because they are composed of bitmap graphics, they can include images of any shape. So subpictures are routinely used for menu
highlighting, altering—that is, highlighting—a button in some manner, when it is selected or activated.
DVD-Video accommodates up to 32 discrete subpicture streams. Each subpicture stream is synchronized
with the video and audio streams and multiplexed into the overall DVD-Video stream, so that it can be
selectively turned on or off. Subpictures comprised of text, graphics, or a combination of both can be
partial- or full-screen size—up to 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL). Simple motion effects can be applied
to subpictures so they appear to change on a frame-by-frame basis: they can fade in and out;
wipe in color or transparency; or scroll up and down.
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What are subpictures made of?
While the DVD-Video format supports up to 32 simultaneous subpicture stream, the bandwidth allocation
for each stream is quite limited. To meet the bandwidth restriction, subpicture text and graphics are compressed with Run-Length Encoding (RLE). Run-length compression is a form of lossless compression, so the
original picture can be reconstructed with no loss of detail. This makes it an excellent choice for subtitles and
other text where legibility is critical. Run-length compression is one of the simplest forms of digital video
compression, using the principles of spatial compression to remove redundant areas of information from
within the frame. For an area that is all the same color, run-length compression will store the color information for a single pixel, along with an instruction to reproduce similar colored pixels, and how many. So, for an
area of 100 pixels that are all the same color, instead of storing 100 pieces of data, run-length compression
only needs to store three pieces: a marker indicating a run of similar colored pixels, the color, and the count.
A d o b e
An example of run-length compression
2 3 6 2 3 6 2
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Run-length compression is not very useful for compressing photographic images or detailed illustrations
made up of many colors—there would be little reduction of data. It does, however, work very well on simple
pictures comprised of a limited number of colors. So, to accommodate run-length compression, DVD limits
subpictures to just four colors per frame, selected from a fixed palette of 16 colors per program. This 16-color
palette may be chosen from the more than 11 million colors provided in the 24-bit color mode, although not
all DVD-authoring software allows the full range of choices. The colors chosen should also be NTSC-safe.
The 16-color palette can change, from program to program or from menu to menu, on the same DVD. Each
pixel is represented by 2 bits, enabling four types: background (BG); foreground, aka pattern (P); emphasis 1
(E1); and emphasis 2 (E2). Each pixel type is associated with just one color, selected from the palette of 16, as
well as just one transparency level from 0 (invisible) through 15 (opaque).
While this all sounds pretty complicated, with most entry-level DVD authoring applications you don’t even
need to know this much to highlight menu buttons and create subtitles. But the more sophisticated the
application, the more options you have, and the more useful this information may be.
What’s the difference between subtitles, captions, and Closed Captions?
Adobe Encore DVD provides
the high level of support for
typography you expect of
Adobe products, letting
you type and format
subtitles directly on the
screen, or import and
format a script containing
multiple subtitles.
Subtitles are usually a foreign-language translation of dialogue, but the term can refer to any text that is
superimposed over video or film, typically appearing at the bottom of the screen. Subtitles may not include
every utterance—for example, if a character in an action scene simply shouts out a name (“Will Robinson!”),
subtitling may be deemed unnecessary. Subtitles do not, typically, identify the speaker, as they are not
specifically intended to assist the hearing impaired in comprehending the program; subtitles are typically
intended for hearing people who do not understand the language of the dialogue.
Captions are almost always in the same language as the audio, although captions of a foreign language
translation may be made available. Captions are intended for deaf and hearing-impaired viewers. Ideally,
captions impart every utterance and identify the speaker, either by moving around the screen to appear
in proximity to the speaker or by denoting, in the text, who is speaking—for example, Red-haired Girl,
>>Announcer, [Hamlet]. Captions convey tone and type of voice, where necessary—for example, (whispering), [Russian accent], [Vincent Price narrating]. Captions include descriptions of sound effects and other
significant audio—for example, thunderclap, music rising to crescendo, sound of breaking glass offscreen.
Captions may be supplied, like subtitles, as a subpicture stream, in which case they are called open captions.
To distinguish them from subtitles or Closed Captions, open captions are usually referred to as “captions for
the hearing impaired.” Like other subpicture streams, open captions are multiplexed into the overall DVDVideo stream and extracted into a discrete stream by the decoder in the DVD player, so that they can be
turned on or off at the viewer’s discretion, assuming the DVD author makes this a choice.
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Closed Captions are not comprised of subpictures; they are made up of individual character codes carried
in the MPEG-2 video stream and must be generated by a special encoder during the post-production
process. Closed Captions are not decoded by the DVD player. The display of Closed Captions requires a
special decoder chip which, by law, is built into every U.S. television set (larger than 13”) sold since the
mid-1990s. When the Closed Captions option is selected on the television set, Closed Captions are displayed.
Closed Captioning is an NTSC standard supported by the DVD-Video format. DVD does not, however,
support PAL Teletext, the European equivalent of Closed Captioning.
We have become used to the kind of real-time and on-demand interactivity made possible via Internet
applications or application software delivered on a CD-ROM or in the DVD-ROM format—video-game
play is a prime example. While DVD-Video is capable of providing random access to all of the content
stored on the disc, enabling the viewer to jump to any defined point in a video, in less than one second,
the interactivity afforded is comparatively limited. Interactive features can be provided by the DVD-Video
format—primarily based upon navigation—and can even simulate searching and game scoring, but results
cannot be generated—that is, computed—on the fly. It is important to understand this distinction: choices
can be offered the viewer which, upon selection, will display alternative menus, scenes, or sequences, but
these permutations must be prepared in post-production, in their entirety, and stored on the DVD; interacting merely selects them for playback.
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Seamless branching
DVD-Video makes it possible for the viewer to be given some choices in how the video program unfolds.
The possibilities are limited only by available content and the imagination of the DVD author.* For example,
the viewer might be given choices to skip or include certain scenes, experience an alternate ending, view the
director’s cut, share a specific character’s point of view, and so on. Once selected by the viewer, these choices
are presented “seamlessly,” that is, without a break in the perceived flow of the program. This seamless
branching, aka seamless playback, aka multistory capability, is a big improvement over the branching
functionality in earlier digital video formats such as laserdisc and VCD, where jumping to another part of
the program meant a break in the playback. Several levels of branching can be offered to the viewer—for
example, long- or short-version of chase scene, with or without gory ending. A random branching option
can also be offered to keep the experience fresh upon each subsequent viewing.
Some selections enabled by seamless branching functionality result in an alternate presentation being played
without the viewer even realizing such a choice was made. For example, if an alternate language soundtrack is
selected, scenes in which written words appear—on signage, for example—might be replaced with matching
language versions.
An example of seamless branching
* Current technology may present
limitations to a DVD author’s
creativity, however. Because seamless
branching is very complex to plan
and prepare, this functionality has
not yet been offered within any commercial DVD authoring applications
of which the authors of this Primer
are aware.
If the French-language version is selected, the DVD not only plays the
French-dubbed soundtrack, but also jumps to French-language visual sequences.
Rating system used
in the United States
Parental management
Different DVD players have different mechanisms for gaining access to a special parental control
menu screen that enables parents to set the player to a specific rating level, using passwordprotection. Three different implementations of parental management are possible:
• Lockout—If a disc with a rating above the established level is inserted in the player,
it will not play.
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• Censorship—If the content has been rated on a scene by scene basis, and those ratings
are included in the encoding, and chapter points are set so that multistory functionality
can be employed, the player can map the rating against the content and skip over those
scenes that are not acceptable. While the playback will be seamless, the story line
may suffer gaps in continuity.
Rating systems vary from
country to country
• Multirated content—DVD-Video content can also be authored so that a different version
of the movie—one that is acceptable to the established parental control level—will play back
seamlessly by using branching to jump to alternate scenes. While this feature is noteworthy
for its ideals, the reality is that very, very few DVDs offer content variations for less mature
audiences. The added production expenses are prohibitive, including shooting extra footage,
recording additional audio, editing the new sequences and submitting them for rating
approvals, then setting up branch points, synchronizing the soundtrack across the jumps,
and so forth. Furthermore, packaging standards have not yet been established for DVDs
with multirated content, so many video store chains refuse to carry them.
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One form of the
Windows Media®
Player controller
for Microsoft®
Windows® XP
Presentation data
Navigation data
Presentation engine
Navigation manager
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DVD player controllers (both physical and virtual), in addition
to the Select button and the Up, Down, Left, and Right
buttons that facilitate menu navigation, sometimes have
buttons that let the user play, pause, and usually stop the
video; play the video forward or backward at different rates;
step through the video frame-by-frame; skip over chapters
or jump to the beginning of the title; jump to the title menu
or root menu; control audio volume; and choose language,
subtitle, or camera angle options.
Some software player controllers (like the one pictured above), to minimize screen real estate, dispense with buttons
that might be redundant to mouse selection controls. Many software players are offered in a variety of configurations,
some designed so that the viewer can make them invisible when the video is playing.
technology model
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The “Top” button (which may alternatively be labled “Title,”“Guide,”“Info,” or “Setup”) takes the viewer to the very top
of the content hierarchy—to the most primary table of contents menu, which is known as the “title menu” or “top
menu.” The “Menu” button invokes a jump to the most appropriate menu, based on the current state of the content
display. The “Return” button executes a “Go up” command, jumping to the next higher level of the menu hierarchy.
Typical layout of a
DVD player remote
control device
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Adobe delivers all the software
you need to create dynamic DVD
menus: Adobe Illustrator and
Photoshop for designing backgrounds and graphic elements
such as buttons, Adobe After
Effects® for developing motion
graphics for motion menus, and
Adobe Encore DVD for putting
your menus together with creative
authoring tools for professional
DVD production.
The DVD-Video specification accommodates on-screen menus; it does not
require them. But, without menus, DVD is really nothing more than a storage
and playback medium. Menus support the interactive
features that make DVD such an appealing delivery vehicle
for video. Most viewers expect at least one menu that lets
them jump directly to the specific program content they
want to view.
The infrastructure of DVD navigation
Navigation is a good example of how the various components of DVD
technology work together to deliver an interactive experience. The DVD-Video
format stored on the DVD disc contains presentation data (video, still image,
and audio content) and navigation data (information and commands that
provide basic interactivity). The DVD player includes a presentation engine
that uses the presentation data stream from the disc to control the content,
and a navigation manager that uses the navigation data stream from the disc to provide a user
interface, including menus, and to control branching and other features supporting interactivity.
What is a menu?
A menu is a user interface (UI) that allows the viewer to navigate the DVD content. The graphical
user interface (GUI) part of a menu typically consists of:
• a background that is either a still image or motion video (animation or live action)—and
sometimes there’s background audio, as well
• informational and sometimes instructional text
• buttons in the form of graphics, still photos, or thumbnail-size motion video that link to points
in the video content on the DVD or to other menus
If the background or the buttons incorporate motion video or animation, the menu qualifies as a
motion menu. Many entry-level DVD authoring applications do not support motion menus.
A typical DVD chapter menu
On the menu above, “The Bride” button is selected. If
activated, playback will jump to “The Bride” content.
Button highlighting, as in this example, is typically
done with a subpicture overlay. In this case,
the subpicture overlay highlights the selection by
simply placing a 40% opacity white oval over
the selected button. Shown below are the
components of this menu.
Background graphic
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The user moves between buttons on the menu by pressing the up, down, left, or
right buttons on the player’s remote control (either a physical device if the player
is a set-top box or a virtual controller if using a computer). A button is selected
when the user moves to it and it is highlighted in the GUI; the user presses the
“Select” button on the controller to activate the highlighted choice. Note that if
the DVD is being played on a computer, in addition to the controls simulated by
the player interface, a mouseover usually indicates a selection, causing the button
to be highlighted, with a click or hit on the “Return” key resulting in activation.
Subpictures, as you have learned, may be used to provide visual feedback—
that is, to highlight menu choices—when buttons are selected (see example in
sidebar) and then when they are activated. Subpictures are the most common
and most efficient way to highlight menus, because the 24-bit color background
graphic remains the same, while only the RLE-encloded 4-bit subpictures change.
Action buttons (aka action menus) are another method that can be used
to provide visual feedback (not to be confused with motion menus). A highlighted action button is really a jump to an entirely different 24-bit menu graphic
—sometimes with motion. While this approach enables a full palette of colors to
be used (as contrasted to the limitations of using subpictures) for highlighting
and can be used for more complex motion highlighting with dynamic effects, it
is more difficult to implement, the feedback may be quite slow on some players,
a mouseover on a computer player will usually not cause the highlight effect,
and it eats up far more bandwidth.
What can menus and buttons do?
Each button must be programmed to perform a desired function—in most cases,
to jump to a specific point in the video content, or to another menu. So there
needs to be a system for identifying desired points in the video content, as well
as recognizing the menus and subpictures that need to be displayed upon
command—a road-map, of sorts.
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Many menus simply facilitate choices between titles or chapters on the DVD.
Some menus let the user choose the way in which the content will be
presented—for example, with which type of audio, in which language, with
or without subtitles or captions and, if multistory options are available, which
scenes will be included. A menu can masquerade as a quiz—the answer selected,
once activated, will determine the next jump. Choose correctly and you’ve
chosen to play a still or video sequence that congratulates you on your aptitude;
choose incorrectly and you’ll view content that may suggest you try again, or
will provide more information. Unless the quiz is really a link to a more
nimble application made available via Web-enhancement, it’s simply another
type of interactive menu.
Content hierarchy—the DVD road-map
Subpicture overlay (40% opacity white oval)
The video content saved in the DVD-Video format and stored on the disc can be
parsed much like a map. In other words, it can be broken down into hierarchical
units—like a country may be divided into states that are comprised of counties in
which there are cities and towns each made up of neighborhoods which, in turn,
can be separated into blocks that can ultimately be dissected into parcels or lots.
Further, the dividing lines between these map units are indicated by specific conventions we recognize—solid or broken lines of varying weights and colors.
We also understand that the map hierarchy is flexible—there are countries that
do not have the equivalent of both states and counties; there are towns too small
to bother dividing into neighborhoods. Just as with maps, it helps to understand
The efficient asset management
system in Adobe Encore DVD
provides a unique way of displaying menus, buttons, and chapters
that lets you track your project’s
structure with ease. For flexible
menu routing, use the simple,
intuitive interface to link buttons
to any destination in your project.
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the nomenclature used to describe DVD-Video content, and the hierarchy in which it fits, to develop
navigational tools—that is, menus and buttons. And, just as with maps, the DVD-Video hierarchy is
flexible, so it can be quite confusing to the newcomer. Entry-level and even quite advanced DVDauthoring tools will walk you through the process of creating menus and buttons that function. So
you can make DVDs without really understanding the hierarchy, but it may save you frustration and
let you do more, if you have at least a familiarity with the basics.
The terminology is confusing. But language is often confounding—consider, for example, the
difference between a child’s toy “block” and a city “block.” When it comes to DVD, consumers
usually think of a “title” as a complete, packaged product including one or more discs—what a
retailer would count as a SKU (stock keeping unit)—such as: “Star Trek, The Motion Picture” or
“Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan (Director’s Edition)” or “Star Trek, The Motion Pictures Collection.”
As you’ll read below, “title” has a slightly different meaning in the DVD content hierarchy. Similarly,
we usually think of a “program” as a complete show—like a TV show or other stand-alone production. Like “title,” the term “program,” too, has a different meaning in the DVD nomenclature.
Typical map hierarchy
country > state > county > city/town > neighborhood > block > lot (smallest addressable unit)
Typical DVD hierarchy
volume > zone > space > domain > video title set > program chain > part of title > program > cell (smallest addressable unit)
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DVD hierarchy may seem to parallel video
content hierarchy, but it isn’t quite so simple...
Video Content
DVD Content
Movie, Project,
or Program
Title (TT)
99 per disc
Part of Title (PTT)
or Program Chain
999 per title
Video Object Set
(VOBS) or
Program (PG)
99 per PGC
There are two interrelated sides to the hierarchy:
• The navigation (or control) data is the logic that determines the order
and conditions of the content playback.
• The presentation (or object) data is comprised of the actual video, audio,
and still image content including menu backgrounds and subpictures.
You’re already familiar with the nomenclature of the video
hierarchy—from largest to smallest unit: movie > chapter >
scene > clip > frame > pixel. The DVD content hierarchy may
sometimes seem to parallel the video hierarchy, but there
won’t always be a direct correspondence. In some hierarchical
structures—such as weights and measures—there are clear,
consistent size relationships between units—2 cups to a pint,
2 pints to a quart, 4 quarts to a gallon, and so on. But in
video and DVD—and, for that matter, in the country > state >
county > city hierarchy we’ve used as an analogy—the unit
relationships are not defined by size or quantity—a state can
have any number of counties and be almost any size; a clip
can be comprised of any number of frames. Some of the
larger units in the DVD content hierarchy have a capacity
limit for smaller units (for example, a disc can have no more
than 99 titles) but, by and large, unit boundaries can be
defined by the video editor or DVD author.
The object data is combined into multiplexed streams called Video Objects
(VOB). Video Objects are stored in logical “containers” called Video Object
Sets (VOBS). Which Video Object is played back, and when, is determined
by a set of instructions referred to as a Program Chain (PGC), another
logical container.
But let’s start at the very top of the DVD hierarchy, and work our way down
through the DVD nomenclature, taking a look at how the logical and
presentation hierarchy is intertwined.
The top level of organization on a DVD disc is called a volume. A single-sided
DVD contains a single volume; a double-sided disc has two volumes—one
for each side. The UDF file system employed by DVD breaks the volume
down into zones. In this case, there are two zones: a DVD-Video zone and
a DVD-Others zone. All of the video-related content and navigational data—
everything that can be played back by a set-top DVD player—is in the
DVD-Video zone, while the DVD-Others zone contains any non-DVD-Video
data, such as desktop computer applications (which will be ignored by
a set-top DVD player).
Zones are comprised of spaces; spaces are groups of domains—spaces and
domains are fairly abstract logical constructs that we needn’t delve into here.
The first part of the DVD-Video zone you may want to be aware of is the
Video Manager (VMG), a special type of Video Title Set (VTS). The Video
Manager contains any first play material, such as an introductory sequence,
as well as the main table-of-contents menu for the entire volume. This is the
“top” menu that is invoked when the “Top” button on the remote control is
Because there are no details in the DVD-Video specification
for menu hierarchies, the manner in which menus are presented to the end-user is up to the DVD developer. A disc may
have no menus or hundreds of menus. But there are six basic
types of menus, as outlined below. And, guess what? The
nomenclature is confusing! So what else is new?
Top menu
• Technical name: Video Manager Menu (VMGM)
• Accessed by pressing “Top” button on controller
The top menu is at the top of the menu food chain. Technically, it is called the Video Manager Menu (VMGM) because it
resides within the Video Manager (VMG). There is only one
top menu per volume (that is, only one for each side of a disc).
There may be different language versions of the top menu—
the version displayed depends on the preferences set in the
DVD player. The top menu is typically displayed automatically
when the disc is first inserted in the player—sometimes
appearing after other first-play material. The top menu can
also be invoked when the “Top” button on the controller is
pressed. The “Top” button may alternatively be labeled as
“Title,”“Guide,”“Info,” or “Setup.” The top menu is sometimes
called the “title menu,” but that can be misleading if there are
multiple titles within the volume, in which case each title
might have its own menu which, by rights should be called
“title menus” but which would truly be root menus (see
below). Confused? That’s okay... You’re not alone.
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Root menu
• Technical name: Video Title Set Menu (VTSM)
• Accessed by pressing “Menu” button on controller
A Video Title Set (VTS) can have a root menu area, technically
called a Video Title Set Menu (VTSM). Pressing the “Menu”
button on the controller displays the menu that has been
designated as the root for the currently active title (often a
chapter menu).
The four other kinds of menus are submenus of root menus,
residing in the same Video Title Set. Many players do not
provide buttons for displaying these submenus, and those
that do rely on the DVD developer to have programmed the
appropriate interactivity. Some players provide a “Return,”
“Back,” or “Go Up” button that may, if the menus are programmed to take advantage of it, jump back to the parent
menu. Note that submenus can have submenus of their own.
The names of the four submenu types are practically selfexplanatory (for a change!)
• Chapter menu (part-of-title or PTT menu): Button
activation results in jump to specified PTT (chapter) or PG
(scene) marker.
• Audio menu: Lets viewer select audio stream (such
as type of audio, language option, or narration option).
• Angle menu: Lets viewer select camera angle or
other alternate video stream.
• Subpicture menu: Usually lets viewer select a
subtitle option.
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pushed. There can be only one Video Manager per volume and, consequently, only one top menu (although the top menu can be stored in
different languages and the preferences that have been set for the DVD
player will determine which is displayed).
The Video Manager may be followed by 1 or up to 99 other Video Title
Sets, which fill most of the DVD. A Video Title Set is composed of one or
more Titles (TTs) (aka Video Titles (VTTs)) and a VTS Menu (VTSM),
which is classified as a root menu. The root menu for the Video Title Set
currently being played appears when the Menu button on the remote
control is pushed.
Many DVDs have only one Video Title Set. But, because all of the video
content in a given Video Title Set must be in the same aspect ratio, a DVD
that offers multiple aspect ratios (for example, standard and widescreen)
must have multiple Video Title Sets.
A Title (TT) is the largest unit of presentation data, or content, on a DVD
—usually an entire movie, TV program, or other presentation. If a disc
includes four episodes of a TV series, each episode might be presented as a
title. A disc that offers a feature film, a theatrical trailer, and a supplement
might be divided into three titles: The Movie, The Trailer, and The Making
of. There can be up to 99 titles per volume.
Optionally, a title may be broken down into Part of Titles (PTTs) and/or
Programs (PGs), which may reflect chapters or scenes, and which may be
correlated to menus. Titles, parts of titles, and programs are comprised of
cells. The cell is the smallest addressable unit of presentation data in the
DVD hierarchy. But don’t try to equate a cell with a frame or even with a
certain number of frames—a cell may be as small as an MPEG Group of
Pictures (GOP)—that is, no more than 18 frames NTSC/15 frames PAL
and a fraction of a second—or as large as an entire movie—that is, hourslong. If we go back to our map analogy, think of a cell as a town—it may
be as small as a single square block or as large as Los Angeles; it may only
be a small portion of a state or it may (if we allow the District of Columbia
as a state) comprise its entirety, as does Washington, DC.
The presentation data referenced by a Title may include a single cell or
multiple cells; it may be composed of cells organized into programs or
directly into part of titles; or it may be made up of cells that are organized
into programs that are further organized into part of titles. The breakdown
is relevant only to the level of menu navigation that can be implemented.
In any case, the presentation (or object) data is contained in logical units
called Video Object Sets (VOBSs). A Video Object Set is made up of one or
more Video Objects. A Video Object (VOB) includes presentation data—
video, audio, subpictures, and navigation data—that is multiplexed into a
stream. Because the data is multiplexed, it can be separated
into its constituent parts and called upon as needed.
The Video Object can be considered the basic presentation-data building
block of DVD-Video, while the Program Chain (PGC) is the fundamental
logical unit. Each Program Chain is a set of instructions telling the DVD
player which VOBs should be referenced, under which conditions, and
in what order. A DVD-Video title can, simply, be seen as a collection of
Program Chains (instructions) and the Video Objects (assets) to which
they refer. Different Program Chains can reference the same VOBs,
selecting different sets of cells and audio streams to create variations
of the content—such as, versions with different ratings.
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The anatomy of a Program Chain (PGC)
What you can do with Web DVD is limited only
by your imagination and your ability to work
with the technology. Here are a few examples
of what you might do with Web DVD:
• Offer a choice of “surf or show”—a menu
appears when you insert the DVD, offering
options to either connect to a Web site or
work with the disc alone
• Add Web links to menus or to the video
itself that appear as buttons when jumps
to relevant Web content would supplement the DVD experience
• Provide a separate window, synchronized
to the video, that provides information
from the Web during viewing
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• Incorporate an HTML-based interface to
control DVD playback, either in a window
or in full-screen mode
• Enchance the Web experience by substituting high-quality DVD content played
from a local drive in place of lower-quality
streaming Web content
• Update the DVD experience by inserting or
adding new or time-sensitive information
from the Web that supersedes content on
the DVD.
• Encourage audience interaction related to
the DVD content between multiple viewers
by providing a window that facilitates
online “chat.”
The Program Chain is the fundamental logical unit of DVDVideo. Specific video cells, audio streams, menus, and
subpictures to be played back are pulled from referenced
Video Objects (VOBs). Each Program Chain is made up of a
pre-command, a list of content residing in associated VOBs,
and a post-command. The pre-command contains the
instructions for playing the content. It is followed by the
list of which VOB content will be played—much like an
Edit Decision List (EDL) in a nonlinear editing system. The
post-command contains instructions for what to do after
the list of content has been played—usually to link to
another PGC or jump to a menu.
The Web offers instant access to a world of content, as well as the capacity for two-way
communication and interactivity that far surpasses the current capability of DVDVideo. But the Internet is constrained by bandwidth restrictions that keep the notion
of streaming high-quality video-on-demand a future promise. Even with DSL, it
would take 24 hours to download a DVD-quality movie; perhaps less time with cable
modem, depending on how many other people in the neighborhood were placing
high-bandwidth demands on the shared network at the same time.
DVDs deliver high-quality video immediately, but only provide the content that can
be fit onto the disc itself. DVDs cannot be continually updated like Web sites, nor can
they deliver the level of interactivity made possible by the Web.
Greater than the sum of its parts
Combining the best of both the Web and DVD enhances the viewer’s experience, and
it opens up possibilities for connecting marketers with consumers, students with
teachers, and community members with each other as they share a high-quality video
experience. The technique of combining DVD and the Web is known by several
names: enhanced DVD, connected DVD, online DVD, Internet DVD, and WebDVD,
among others.
You pop the latest DVD blockbuster movie into your DVD player and see previews
of other titles, just like you would at the theater. But with each preview, you are given
the opportunity to order the DVD of the movie being advertised—either for purchase
or for rent. But why stop with movies? The heroine in the feature has a fabulous wardrobe, and you can order any of her outfits online. Or maybe you’re watching an
instructional DVD on your favorite recreational activity—golf, tennis, skiing, fishing.
With Web DVD, you can go online to access current catalogs selling the equipment
shown in the video, to make reservations for your next vacation, or to chat with a
community of like-minded enthusiasts. It’s not too difficult to come up with similar
scenarios for distance learning and all kinds of business applications.
Convergence is coming to a living room near you
Obviously, the use of Web-enhanced DVDs requires a DVD player built into or
hooked up to a computer that is, in turn, connected to the Internet. More and more
computers are being sold with built-in DVD players as standard equipment. But
watching movies is, for the most part, a sit-back-in-the-easy-chair-in-the-living-room
experience, and most home theater set-ups don’t include a computer. So the audience
for Web-enhanced DVD movies is still limited. The near-term applications of Webenhanced DVD are more likely to be found in education and training, and in the
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business-to-business arena, rather than in consumer entertainment and marketing. But it won’t be very long
before all of our living rooms are wired, and we’ll be watching movies and other programming fed through
either computers or set-top boxes that are as “smart” as computers.
1. U.S.A., U.S. Territories, Canada
2. Japan, Europe, South Africa, and Middle
East (including Egypt)
3. Southeast Asia and East Asia (including
Hong Kong)
4. Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands,
Central America, Mexico, South America,
and the Caribbean
5. Eastern Europe (former Soviet Union),
Indian subcontinent, Mongolia,
Africa, and North Korea
6. China
7. Reserved
8. Special international venues
(airplanes, cruise ships, intergalactic and interdimensional
vehicles, and elsewhere)
What is Region Coding and why does DVD have it?
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The motion picture industry has a powerful voice in the DVD Forum, and that’s why the controversial
Region Coding feature—also known as country coding, zone lock and, in computer drives, Regional Playback
Control (RPC) —was included in DVD technology. Region Coding works like this: If you purchase a DVD
player in Canada, it will not play back most prerecorded DVDs purchased in France, or Tahiti, or in any
region other than Region 1, which includes Canada, the U.S.A., and U.S. Territories.
The code itself takes up just one byte on the DVD. It is designed to search for a matching bit of code in the
DVD player’s firmware. If the proper code is not found, the DVD will simply not play. However, a disc without a Region Code—also known as an “all-region” disc—will play on any compatible DVD player or drive,
anywhere. And there are “multiregion” players available. In fact, NASA has purchased and used them on multinational space shuttle flights. But some DVDs from major motion picture studios use a system known as
RCE (Region Coding Enhancement), won’t play in multiregion players.
Region Coding is a “feature,“ not a requirement
The producer of a DVD—whether a major motion picture studio or you—is not required to include Region
Coding. Why would it possibly be a desirable feature? Because movie studios want to control the timing of
DVD releases in different geographic markets, because movies aren’t always released everywhere in the world
simultaneously. What’s more, the movie moguls want to sell exclusive rights for DVDs to different foreign
distributors in discrete geographic markets. The practice of Region Coding is quite controversial. Those
opposed to Region Coding suggest that it may be a violation of fair trade practices. In a recent court case,
the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) argued that the practical effect of Region
Coding was that consumers who purchased DVD players in Australia are prevented from playing films
procured overseas and, because overseas markets give Australian consumers access to a wider range of
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film titles with special features not available locally, the practice amounts to the creation and maintenance of
artificial barriers to trade.
Can Region Coding be modified to permit multiregion playback?
Yes. Special command sequences from the remote control allow some players to switch regions or play all
regions. Some players can be physically modified to play all regions; however this practice will usually void
the warranty and may be prohibited by law in some jurisdictions. Contact the manufacturer to determine if
the player will permit multiregion playback or may be modified to do so.
Content Protection, like Region Coding, is not a requirement, but an optional feature of DVD. It’s not very
difficult to understand why content developers and copyright holders want Content Protection. So who
doesn’t want it, and why? The opponents of Content Protection claim that its ramifications violate our rights
to benefit from open technology and to freely distribute and share information. There are complex issues
involved in the Content Protection debate—issues involving not only content rights, but also the capabilities
(or potential lack of them) built into the DVD recording technology available to the general public. Most of
us hope that DVD will be able to avoid the pitfalls of DAT and MiniDisc, neither of which ever fully realized
its potential, largely because of interference from powerful special interests.
We are not going to get into the Content Protection debate, in these pages; but, if you are interested in the
future of the DVD medium, you may want to learn more about the issues. Just enter ‘“Content Protection”
and “DVD” in any Web search engine and you’ll net a wide variety of opinions and information. What we
will try to do, instead, is provide you with an awareness of the basic technologies currently in use—an exercise that will consist largely of sorting out a boatload of abbreviations and acronyms. This part of the Primer
is worth reading if you want to better understand the technology that makes it difficult (although, apparently,
never impossible for clever hackers) to copy commercial DVDs, or if you plan to produce content for commercial DVDs yourself.
Content Protection System Architecture (CPSA) is an overall framework for DVD technology, related to
controlling access to content recorded on DVD discs. Comprised primarily of watermarking and encryption
technologies and policies, CPSA includes protection measures for both digital and analog outputs. CPSA
was developed jointly by IBM, Intel, Matsushita, and Toshiba, forming an alliance known as the 4C Group,
in cooperation with the Content Protection Technical Working Group (CPTWG), a somewhat broader consortium of consumer electronics and computer companies, as well as content producers. CPSA was designed
to encompass the major Content Protection technologies currently in use, to accommodate the integration
of emergent technologies, and to ensure consistency with and avoid duplication of Content Protection technologies being developed by the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).
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Content Management Information (CMI) is the specific logic, or set of rules, governing protected content.
Region Coding is one form of CMI. Simply stated, CMI is just digital code, recorded with the content and
other data on a DVD disc, that may modify the behavior of the DVD device in which it is played and may
restrict copying of content from protected discs. CMI often modifies playback or restricts recording attempts,
regardless of whether the attempt is made by digital or analog means.
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Content Protection System (CPS) is the generic term for a technology designed to protect content from being
misused or misappropriated—that is, altered, copied, or displayed in any unauthorized manner.
Copy Control Information (CCI) is the logic governing if and how content may be copied, and usually
comprises a portion of the CMI.
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Watermarking and encryption
Digital watermarking has been in use for some years, in efforts to protect still images from being used or
altered without permission. Typically, the watermarking of still images is quite obvious, often in the form
of a logomark or emblem that partially obscures the image, and clearly identifies it as protected. Conversely,
when it comes to video and audio content, watermarking refers to technologies that embed CMI in content,
in such a way as to be imperceptible to the audience. And unlike the watermarking used to protect still
images, video and audio watermarking does not, in and of itself, serve to protect the content. The watermark
simply triggers the playback device to respond in accordance with the CMI, so long as that playback device
is compliant with the system being employed—that is, a noncompliant device will generally not play back
watermarked content. The watermark triggers the device to decrypt encrypted content in accordance with
the CMI. Watermarking and encryption/decryption technology systems are typically made available to
content producers and device manufacturers under license; the license contract specifies the CMI protocols.
Ready for a really silly acronym? Watermarking technologies are standardized by an organization called
the Watermarking Review Panel (WaRP).
APS, aka analog CPS, aka copyguard; aka Macrovision
Adobe Encore DVD
offers support for standard
Content Protection formats:
Macrovision, CGMS, and CSS
An Analog Protection System (APS), also known as an analog CPS (Content Protection System), prevents
analog copies from being made from DVDs (that is, prevents the copying of DVD content onto analog
videotape). The most widely used APS was developed by a company called Macrovision and is generally
referred to by its trade name. A Macrovision circuit is built into just about every DVD player available, as
well as into computer video cards with S-video outputs. Macrovision-protected discs include trigger bits,
encoded in the recorded data, that trigger the Macrovision circuit in the player or video card to send out
AGC (Automatic Gain Control) pulses to the video outputs. AGC pulses, which interrupt the vertical interval
in the television display, usually do not affect playback on standard TVs but, because they do affect the
AGC circuitry in VCRs, show up as noise, interference, or other undesirable artifacts on analog videotape
copies. Macrovision also uses an additional protection scheme called Colorstripe, which adds a rapidly
modulated colorburst signal that results in lines or stripes appearing across the picture when analog videotape copies of material protected in this manner are viewed. Because the DVD producer pays Macrovision
royalties (typically several cents per disc produced) based on how much protection is incorporated into the
content, and because Macrovision protection can be applied selectively, not all the content on a Macrovisionprotected disc may actually be protected. Because both of the Macrovision techniques—AGC Pulsing and
Colorstripe—hinge on interrupting the analog video signal, Macrovision can be used to protect only video,
not audio, content. There are some inexpensive devices available that defeat Macrovision, but only a few can
be used to circumvent the Colorstripe scheme.
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Copy Guard Management System (CGMS) is a Serial Copy Management System (SCMS). The CGMS code
embedded in the outgoing video signal is based on one of three rules: copy freely, copy never, or copy once.
The “copy once” rule allows a first-generation copy to be made, but disallows copies of copies.
Content Scrambling System (CSS) is a Content Protection solution developed primarily by Matsushita
and Toshiba. It was designed to prevent the direct digital copying of video files from DVD discs, which
could result in virtually perfect clones. With its reliance on matching up a pair of so-called “keys” to
authenticate both the disc and the device as duly licensed, before allowing an encrypted MPEG-2 file to be
descrambled and played back, it almost sounds like the plot of a “Dungeons & Dragons” style videogame or
adventure movie—don’t try this at home without your decoder ring! Here’s how it works: 400 (give or
take a few) “master keys” are stored in the lead-in area on every CSS-encrypted DVD disc. Each licensed
hardware (device) manufacturer is given what amounts to a “keyhole” (in the form of computer code),
matching one of the 400 master keys, and this “key” code is included in the device’s firmware. There is no
charge for a CSS license, but it is difficult to obtain one, and the license is extremely restrictive requiring,
among other covenants, that Region Coding be employed. If the hardware license is revoked, the matching
key is simply not included on any future CSS-encrypted DVDs. In order to play a CSS-encrypted disc, the
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device—be it a DVD-Video player or a computer drive, must include a licensed CSS decryption module with
a valid key code. When a CSS-encrypted DVD is played in a CSS-enabled device, the plot thickens... in addition to decrypting the scrambled MPEG-2 file to actually play the video, the CSS decryption algorithm
exchanges keys with the device to generate an incremental encryption code that prevents the
further exchange of disc keys and device keys that would be needed to decrypt data from the disc. Confused?
We were meant to be—the CSS algorithm and keys were intended to be a closely-kept secret. However, these
days you can truly learn every secret—on the Internet. DeCSS is a “hack” that was posted on the Internet in
October 1999, cracking the CSS algorithm and spawning a remarkable rat’s nest of legal controversies. The
original flavor of DeCSS enabled the playback of CSS-encrypted DVDs on computers running the Linux
operating system (which had been excluded from CSS because of its “open source” approach); another flavor
“does” Windows. No longer a deep, dark secret, you can now purchase a T-shirt with the DeCSS source coded
printed on it (at www.copyleft.net), or learn more about the DeCSS polemic at www.opendvd.org
Burst Cutting Area (BCA)
Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM) has stirred up a lot of controversy because it is a technique
that can be applied to a spectrum of storage media, including personal computer hard drives, where issues
related to data recovery and privacy have been cause for concern. As it relates to DVD, CPRM involves a
unique code, physically etched into the Burst Cutting Area (BCA) of every blank disc. When the disc is
played, a CPRM-enabled playback device reads the code from the BCA and uses it to generate a key to
decrypt the content for playback. But if the encrypted digital content is copied to other media, it will not
be able to be decrypted because the code that generates the key will be missing or different. Every DVD
recorder shipped after 1999 supports CPRM.
Content Protection for Prerecorded Media (CPPM) is designed specifically for DVD-Audio content. It is based
on CSS but uses a different algorithm developed after the appearance of DeCSS.
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Now that you’ve learned about CSS, the complex Content Protection systems being developed in its wake
won’t sound quite so cloak and dagger. Devised specifically for the next generation of digital TVs and VCRs,
these systems include all manner of clandestine key exchanges and encryption/decryption schemes.
Digital Copy Protection Systems (DCPS) enable the exchange of data between digital components via
lossless, digital connections such as IEEE 1394 (aka, Firewire or i.Link), without permitting perfect
digital copies to be created. Several proposals have been submitted to the Consumer Electronics Association
(CEA) from various combinations of major consumer electronics players. These proposals call for devices
enabled by digital keys or physical “smart cards” for renewable security. Such devices exchange keys and
authentication certificates to establish a secure channel whereby other connected but unauthenticated devices
cannot access the signal. The DVD player itself encrypts the video signal as it sends it to the receiving device,
which must decrypt—unauthenticated devices cannot do so. All the proposed techniques flag content with
CGMS-style “copy freely,” “copy never,” or “copy once” coding. Players that can authenticate that they are
“playback-only” devices are allowed access to all protected content. Recorders can only receive data flagged as
copyable and, as a copy is made, must change the flag to “no more copies” if the source is marked “copy
once.” Devices that utilize DCPS are beginning to appear on the market. You will start to see DVD players
and discs, as well as digital TVs, VCRs, and computer drives that include DCPS protocols, such as Digital
Transmission Content Protection (DTCP), the “5C” DCPS, so-called for the five companies involved in its
development: Intel, Sony, Hitachi, Matsushita, and Toshiba.
High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), developed by Intel, is specifically for use with
components connected with the new digital video monitor interfaces, such as the Digital Video Interface
(DVI), designed to replace the analog VGA standard. Many of the new HDTVs are expected to have DVI
compatibility. Like other DCPS, HDCP utilizes a complex set of coded keys for device authentication. Upon
authentication, the HDCP protocol encrypts each and every pixel as it is transferred across DVI from the
DVD player to the digital display. Any unauthorized device that attempts to play back HDCP-protected
content will transfer only random noise to the display.
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Because this Primer isn’t a “how-to,” you won’t find step-by-step instructions in this section. What you will
find here are basics to familiarize you with the tools and the process, whether you are actually making your
own DVDs or engaged in working on DVD projects in some other capacity. In broad strokes, there are two
principal stages to making DVDs: authoring and replication. For DVD-Video, authoring comprises the
process of planning, designing, assembling, and formatting content. Depending upon the software being used
and individual interpretation, authoring may also be seen to include encoding or transcoding video and
audio, as well as developing menus. When the authoring process has been completed, the replication process
begins. In the professional production environment, the replication process consists of more than simply
burning discs—it also includes premastering, proofing, QA, physical formatting (during which Content
Protection and Region Coding may be incorporated), and glass mastering—all before a sizeable run of
DVD-Video discs can be produced, packaged, and distributed.
Much of the hardware and software you need is the same as for producing any other video-based production:
tools to create, capture, and edit video. In addition, you’ll need DVD-authoring software, as well as a device
for recording the final content you’ve prepared in the DVD-Video format, either directly onto DVDs for
playback or replication, or onto the half-inch digital linear tape (DLT) typically used in preparation for mass
reproduction. (Note that most replicators will also accept single-layer DVD-R for replication, but not when
copy protection is to be included).
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The speed, power, and capacity of many desktop and even laptop systems, today, make it possible to go from
DV to DVD with a fairly minimal hardware investment, either by using the system you already own, or by
enhancing it somewhat. The decisions you make regarding the best computer (workstation) to choose,
whether you should add a video card to your system, what kind of offline storage is best, and what type of
recording device(s) you need, can be guided by answering the following questions:
What kind of video will you be incorporating into your productions?
Simple, straightforward editing of DV takes less processing power (that is, MHz) and less random access
memory (RAM) than applying complex visual effects or compositing uncompressed footage. Check the
system requirements on your video editing software for guidelines. But because these system requirements are usually established using a “clean” computer, in the real world, you’re likely to want more than
what is recommended. While you may be able to struggle along with 256 MB of RAM, you’ll probably
be happier with at least 512 MB. And it’s always a good idea to hedge your bets—make sure you can add
more RAM down the road. Many professionals opt for 2 GB of RAM.
How time-critical will your productions be?
Are your productions deadline-driven? Do you need or want real-time capabilities—and, therefore
possibly a real-time video card—for video capture, processing and previews, or transcoding for export?
A video card relieves your CPU of much of the processing load, letting you work more efficiently.
How much video will you be working with?
There’s no getting around the fact that digitized video requires a lot of storage. Uncompressed, a single
video frame is approximately 1 MB and, therefore, at the NTSC frame-rate of 29.97 fps, 1.5 GB is
required for just one minute of video. An hour-long program can consume 90 GB of storage, without
even considering all the raw footage that went into it—often five times the amount of the actual product
(450 GB), or, for high-end productions as much as 20-50 times (1,800-4,500 GB). To figure the amount
of storage you need for DV video (compressed 5:1), you can calculate based on approximately 216 MB
for each minute of stored video. Or, looking at it from the opposite direction, each 1 GB of storage holds
about 4 minutes and 45 seconds of video. For an hour of DV, therefore, you would need a 13 GB disk.
Let’s say that you’re an event videographer planning on shooting DV and creating DVDs for your
clients. To figure out how much storage you would need to make a one-hour DVD, here’s how you
might do the math:
Start with what you need for your finished production—two hours of DV footage
26.0 GB
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Add a conservative amount for unused footage—at least twice the finished amount
Figure in some additional graphics—titles, for example—and audio tracks
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52.0 GB
2.0 GB
You’ll need space for the MPEG-2 files you export for your DVD
4.7 GB
Minimum storage space needed
84.7 GB
So you’re probably going to need offline storage—a large-capacity external hard drive or two, at the very
least; a RAID array or storage area network (SAN), if you’re running a professional operation.
When you consider an offline storage subsystem, capacity isn’t the only thing you must bear in mind—
transfer rate is important, as well. The data comprising each frame of video needs to be transferred to
and from the processor at the video frame rate—29.97 frames per second for NTSC—no matter how
large or small the frames might be (that is, how much data comprises them). The transfer rate for DV is
typically 3.6 MB per second. If you are compositing multiple video streams in real time, that rate must
be multiplied for every stream being concurrently processed. And the video must move at a steady, sustained pace, too. If the transfer rate falls below what’s required, frames may be dropped, resulting in poor
quality video. Because faster disk subsystems typically cost more, you’ll want to configure your
system with disks and interfaces that are fast enough to not drop frames, but not so fast that you’re
paying a premium for speed you don’t need.
• How will you distribute your finished video?
If you need only to burn a very small number of final DVDs for personal use, a consumer/prosumer
Entry-level DVD-Video hardware configuration
DVD-RW Drive
TV Monitor
External HD
DVD-Video Player
IEEE 1394
DV Camcorder
Amplifier to Speakers
Mid-range DVD-Video hardware configuration
DVD-Video Player
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Analog Video Source(s)
Digital Video Source(s)
Amplifier to Speakers
IEEE 1394
Audio Source(s)
Ultra SCSI
External Storage
DVD-Video Authoring
DVD-R Drive
DLT Drive
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DVD writer is all that you need. If you have broader distribution plans, you may also need a DLT drive
for recording to DLT, the medium often preferred by DVD-replication facilities.
Adobe delivers the leading-edge software you need to produce professional-quality results for film, video,
and DVD. This comprehensive video production toolset is well integrated, streamlining your workflow
to give you more time to be creative and to maximize your productivity. Adobe products have a familiar
interface that will get you up to speed quickly, while letting you customize them to meet your particular
workflow needs.
Real-time editing for professional video production: When preparing digital video for distribution via any
medium, you’ll need nonlinear editing (NLE) software such as Adobe Premiere Pro. Adobe Premiere Pro soft-
ware elevates digital video editing to a whole new level. This revolutionary editing application delivers a host
of real-time video and audio editing tools, an elegantly redesigned user interface and flexible import and
export options. Built for the superior performance of Microsoft Windows XP systems, Adobe Premiere Pro
provides the power and precision you need to deliver outstanding video productions.
The essential tool for motion graphics and visual effects: Adobe After Effects software sets the pace for
motion graphics and visual effects. The latest release delivers dramatic performance gains, an innovative new
approach to text animation, integrated vector paint tools with Photoshop-style brushes, all-new motion
tracking, Render Automation, advanced keying, and much more. In addition to adding the motion graphics
and visual effects that can make the difference between an ordinary video production and an unforgettable
viewing experience, Adobe After Effects is the tool of choice for producing animations and richly layered
video composites for motion menus.
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The essential tool for professional digital audio: Adobe Audition turns your PC into a professional multitrack recording studio with the tools to produce high-quality audio, a flexible workflow, and exceptional ease
of use. DVD-Video can deliver unprecedented audio quality when the audio assets you incorporate into your
DVD production are high-quality to begin with. If you’ve shied away from engineering your own sound
because the available solutions were either too rudimentary or seemed like they’d take a rocket scientist to
run, then Adobe Audition™ software will be music to your ears.
If you are upgrading any of
your Adobe video products,
make sure to ask about
upgrading to the complete
Collection. The Adobe Video
Collection offers you an
incredible value, with
savings of over 50%
compared to individually
purchased products.
The world-standard image editing solution: You’ll also need software for creating menu graphics: Adobe
Photoshop is the industry standard for developing still graphics, including backgrounds and subpictures for
DVD menus.
Creative authoring for professional DVD production: Adobe Encore DVD software gives professional
videographers, DVD authors, and independent producers the power to create sophisticated, multilanguage DVDs with interactive menus, multiple audio tracks, and subtitle tracks. Adobe Encore DVD
provides a comprehensive set of tools for designing professional DVD titles. While DVD authoring may be
new to you, many tools in Adobe Encore DVD feature the familiar, award-winning Adobe interface, so your
learning experience can be easy and quick. Unparalleled integration with Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects,
and Photoshop optimizes your efficiency. Use the convenient Edit Original command in Adobe Encore DVD
to open and adjust your original files in their native applications.
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The Adobe Encore DVD interface
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Adobe Encore DVD software takes DVD authoring to a new level of creativity and efficiency. Through its flexible
interface and unparalleled integration with Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and After Effects, Adobe Encore DVD
gives professional videographers, DVD authors, and independent producers the power to create sophisticated,
multilanguage DVDs with interactive menus, multiple audio tracks, and subtitle tracks. With Adobe Encore,
you can produce consistent, high-quality results, and export all recordable DVD formats for the widest
degree of playback compatibility. The powerful tools and creative flexibility of Adobe Encore let you
meet increasing demand for DVD output, while differentiating your DVD productions.
Adobe Encore DVD
includes a variety
of predesigned
button and menu
styles that are easy
to customize to
create your
own look.
Top 10 features in Adobe Encore DVD
• Automated transcoding converts source files to MPEG-2 video and Dolby®
Digital audio formats required for DVD-Video
• Create/edit menus in Adobe Photoshop, import native PSD files, use Edit
Original to make alterations
• Unparalleled integration with Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects
automatically updates linked files
• Intelligent image control lets you drag and drop images for buttons or
backgrounds, automatically updating linked images
• Powerful, intuitive navigation controls to program interactivity
• Integrated text tools based on familiar Adobe applications
• Dozens of professionally designed, customizable menu templates boost
your own creativity
• Project Preview simulates DVD player functionality
• Flexible DVD mastering supports all recordable DVD formats
• Built-in tools for efficient project management
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No matter how simple or ambitious your project, the DVD workflow can basically be
broken down into seven stages:
1. Planning
Many DV camcorders have a 16:9 switch
which, when activated, results in a letterboxed or an anamorphically stretched
image. But there is a “right” way and a
“wrong” way to achieve widescreen with
a DV camcorder.
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The “wrong” way is the result of the camcorder merely lopping off the top and
bottom scanlines of the image to achieve
a letterboxed effect. If this type of widescreen image, comprised of only 75% of
the available scanlines, is ultimately
stretched to fill the 4:3 screen of a standard
digital TV (SDTV), the resolution will leave
something to be desired. If the image is
translated to HDTV or transferred to film,
it will look very poor, indeed. The “wrong”
way can be easily recognized by looking
through the view-finder and flipping the
switch: you’ll notice that the top and
bottom of the image seen in the 4:3 mode
are missing from the 16:9 view.
The “right” way is to use a 16:9 CCD. When
in 4:3 mode, the camcorder simply ignores
the sides of the CCD, reading a 4:3 image
from the center section of the chip. In 16:9
mode, the entire chip is engaged. The
properly adjusted camcorder ensures that
the full complement of scan lines (480 for
NTSC; 576 for PAL) is utilized in either mode.
The “right” way may be recognized by noting
the same vertical information that appears
in the 4:3 view is still visible in the 16:9
mode, whether the resulting image is
apparently letterboxed by the viewfinder
or squashed.
2. Asset Preparation
3. Authoring
4. Formatting and Layout
5. Emulation
6. Replication
7. Packaging and Delivery
But there can be as many variations to this process as there are DVD authors, and the
steps that comprise these stages may overlap or, depending on the tools being used, may
be performed in different stages.
In the planning stage, you’ll define your project, determining what content will be
included, as well as how much and what kinds of interactivity will be offered. If you
are producing a commercial DVD, you’ll develop a schedule and milestones, and
prepare or confirm a financial budget. If you are working with others, you’ll define
roles and responsibilities.
If there will be a significant amount of interactivity, you’ll want to create a project
flowchart, which is basically a hierarchical representation of functionality that can be
used as a blueprint for building the DVD (see example below). It’s a good idea to get
client approval on the flowchart before moving on to the production phase of a DVD,
as changes after production has begun may increase costs and effect deadlines.
Storyboards that pre-visualize the production—primarily showing rough menu layouts
and chapter points—may also be developed and may serve as important tools for
Example DVD project flowchart
Copyright Notice
Studio Splash
Title Splash
The Making of...
Standard Version
Main (Top) Menu
Featured Movie
Director’s Cut
Cast & Crew Bios
An alternative “right” way is to do what
filmmakers have done for years—use an
anamorphic lens to squash the picture,
which will be digitally stretched upon
display. The few anamorphic lenses available
for a few digital camcorder models typically
cost around $800.
gaining approvals.
Your objective is to balance the amount of content you
include versus quality. Start by making a list. In addition
to your video assets including multiple angles, list all of your
audio streams including multiple languages and
audio formats, as well as your graphic assets, including
menus, stills, and subpictures.
Both asset size and data rate must be considered. The
combined data rates of concurrent streams cannot exceed
the maximum DVD-Video data rate of 10.08 Mbps.
The data rate (in megabits per second) for each asset
multiplied by the playing time (in seconds) yields the asset
size (in megabits). Asset sizes, when summed, must fit
within the selected disc capacity:
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in GB
in Mb
Less 4%
in Mb
in Mb
A spreadsheet with built-in bit budget-balancing formulas
is invaluable. You can create your own, but why reinvent
the wheel? Jim Taylor’s DVD Demystified includes (on the
accompanying DVD sample disc) just such a tool, designed
in Microsoft Excel. Start out by plugging in a desired level
of quality. If the spreadsheet shows you have too much
data to fit on your disc, you can choose to: a) reduce the
amount of content, b) reduce the data rate of all or some
of the assets, or c) move up to a disc with greater capacity.
Choosing option b—reducing the data rate— effectively
amounts to reducing the quality of the video when you
encode it.
Some DVD-authoring applications include automatic
bit-budgeting tools that perform the calculatations when
you arrive at the formatting (layout) stage. But if you wait
until that point, you may have to go back and re-encode
your video to make it fit. Rather than doing work twice,
it makes more sense to budget your bits during the
Planning stage of the process. Then, use the built-in
calculator in your authoring application as a failsafe.
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Bit budgeting is a critical step in the planning stage that ensures all
of your content will fit on the DVD. While you want to use up as much
space as available to keep your video and audio at the highest quality possible, in planning, it’s a good practice to reserve some space for changes
or additions as the process unfolds.
Preparation means gathering and preparing all of the assets that will be
included on your DVD—video, audio, and graphics.
As is so often repeated in regard to any type of video project: Garbage in;
garbage out. The ultimate quality of your DVD is largely dependent upon
the quality of your source material. Do your best to make sure that you
gather the highest quality versions available for all of your assets.
For existing video, digital tape is generally better than analog tape,
assuming that the original source was digital. If your content was originally shot as analog footage, you want the closest you can get to first
generation because, with every generation copied, analog loses fidelity.
Request that any assets provided on videotape include test tones and
color bars, so that you can calibrate your playback deck to match the
recording deck and, thereby, maintain consistent quality.
Video assets generated in the computer, such as motion graphics and
visual effects, should be provided digitally, rather than on tape (either
digital or analog)—preferably uncompressed, as AVI, MOV, or OMF files.
If you are shooting new footage for your DVD, preparation includes
the traditional preproduction, production, and post-production stages—
planning, shooting, capturing, editing, and adding effects, as well as
encoding. Because of the possibilities inherent in DVD, it’s easy to get
carried away, shooting multiple angles and creating branching options or
alternate endings. Don’t forget that for every additional camera angle you
want to include on your DVD, you increase the bits you need to budget
for the scene by 100 percent.
After your video has been collected and edited, you may want to preprocess it using filters or Digital Video Noise Reduction (DVNR)
processors designed to minimize any undesirable video artifacts
resulting from MPEG encoding. DVNRs are available in a variety of different forms ranging from hardware to software plug-ins.
Your audio must also be recorded or collected, sweetened as necessary
before encoding, and synchronized with your video. For audio assets,
the higher the sample rate and the bit depth, the better. The more
information you start with, the better your results will be when you
downsample and encode.
Menu backgrounds and subpictures must be created, as well. Original
menu design requires excellent graphic design skills and a thorough
understanding of the limitations of subpictures, which can be a tricky
business. So using a DVD authoring application such as Adobe Encore
DVD, that comes with customizable menus, can be an excellent idea.
Once your video and audio assets have been collected, edited, and preprocessed, they must be encoded for DVD: video as MPEG-2 and audio
in one of the audio formats specified for DVD-video. Encoding can be
handled in Adobe Premiere Pro or right within Adobe Encore DVD.
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If your DVD-authoring software includes MPEG-encoding capabilities, you might save your video and audio
encoding for this stage, so long as you are willing to give up some of the fine control you have over the
encoding process with more sophisticated encoding solutions. Similarly, if your authoring software provides
menu templates, you may create (that is, customize) your menu graphics as part of the authoring stage, as
well. Typically, however, the authoring stage involves the following steps:
• Identifying, aka importing, the media assets to be incorporated in the DVD project. The actual asset
files are not really copied or moved anywhere in this step; rather, their locations within the system are
identified and links to those locations are generated.
• Assembling the video and audio assets into tracks (also referred to as synchronized presentation
groups) and identifying chapter points, titles, and title sets. Most DVD-authoring applications use
timelines often with drag-and-drop functionality, to make this step and the next one easier so the
author can focus on the creative process.
• Organizing the presentation groups to match the project flowchart.
• Programming functionality and interactivity. Next, Previous, and GoUp instructions must be programmed that define what will happen when the viewer presses the associated buttons on the player
controller. Menus are created by importing background graphics and subpictures into the authoring
application and programming the menu buttons to respond to DVD player controls. Menu buttons
are then linked to content assets and other menus.
• Simulating the final product by testing menus and navigation and checking to be sure that the video
and audio work as anticipated. Your DVD-authoring software should let you see how your DVD will
look and perform in a player. Some authoring systems will warn you if certain things will cause problems in some players. But this is only the first of several QA steps in the overall process.
Formatting and layout
After you’ve completed the steps of the authoring process, your DVD authoring software still has more work
to do. The various video, audio, and still picture streams will be multiplexed, or “muxed,” and, along with the
associated navigation, or control, information, will be formatted as special types of data files that are compliant with the DVD-video specification: VOBs (video object files), BUPs (backup files), and IFOs (the information files that tell the player how to access the data stored in the VOB files).
Once formatting is finished, the layout process is performed by the DVD-authoring software, resulting in the
creation of a volume image (aka disc image).
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Formatting and layout take some time. The amount of time depends on the processing speed and power of
the computer being used for authoring, the type of authoring software, and the size and complexity of your
DVD content. Most DVD authoring tools can perform formatting and layout in real time, meaning that if the
actual playing time of your DVD content will be two hours, then real-time formatting and layout will take
two hours. Some DVD authoring tools can also write directly to the DVD disc at the same time.
Simulation tests the functionality of components of the DVD, or the DVD project as a whole, from within
the DVD-authoring application. Emulation tests the DVD project outside the authoring tool. Most DVD
authors burn a DVD-R for emulation, then test it on as many different hardware players as they can lay their
hands on. Emulation may catch problems that go unnoticed in the simulations run during the authoring
stage. During emulation, you should check to be sure that: first-play material plays first, video and audio
are of the anticipated quality, video and audio are synchronized, menus look and operate as intended,
subpictures (that is, subtitles) appear when they are meant to and are clearly readable, closed captions can be
decoded by a TV set, parental controls function, DVD-ROM and Web interactivity work, and user operations
(that is, the functionality of player controls) behave as expected. For dual-layer DVDs, it is not possible to
burn a single DVD-R that includes all the data, so a special software DVD player, based on consumer decoders, can be used to play the material from the disc image rather than from a DVD disc.
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D V D s ?
If you are creating just a few, final DVDs, the Replication stage means little more than burning the required
number of discs onto DVD-R using a DVD writer. However, if something on the order of a thousand or
more DVDs are to be replicated, there are still more steps to go through:
• If you will be implementing content protection or region coding, you’ll need to flag these options
using your authoring tool, and create a new disc image. The actual encryption will be done in the final
replication stage, as the replicator will hold the licenses and keys for these processes. (Note that not all
DVD authoring applications allow this functionality.)
• Premastering is the process of writing your final disc image to the digital linear tape (DLT) or DVD-R
that will be sent to the replicator. DLT is generally preferred and must be used if Content Protection or
Region Coding are to be employed.
• Check discs are a limited run of proof discs created by the replicator. They should be run through the
same rigorous testing process as was performed in the Emulation stage. This is the DVD author’s last
opportunity for QA before discs are mass produced. Once check discs have been approved, it is the
replicator’s responsibility to make sure the final fabricated discs match the check discs.
• Physical formatting converts the disc image provided on the DLT or DVD-R into the bit stream
needed by the laser beam recorder (LBR). Among other processes, the data is encrypted for Content
Protection and Region Coding, interleaved, and error correction added during physical formatting.
• Glass mastering is the process of creating a model of the final DVD, which is used for generating
stampers. A stamper has the inverse of the pits and tracks on the glass master. Stampers wear out fairly
quickly during the fabrication process, so multiple stampers may need to be made from the glass
master to complete the run.
• Molding, sputtering, bonding, and labeling complete the replication process. Plastic copies of the
glass master are made from the stamper, using an injection-molding process. A thin metallic layer is
sputtered onto the polycarbonate (plastic) substrate. The two sides of the disc are then bonded
together—DVD-5 discs and some DVD-9 discs get bonded to a blank side, while two-sided discs are
bonded back to back. For one-sided discs, most of the surface of the back side is available for labeling,
in designs that may range from one to full-color. For two-sided discs, the print area is limited to within
the burst-cutting area (BCA). Depending on the type of disc and the printing method selected, the disc
may be labeled before or after bonding.
Packaging and distribution
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DVD discs, once fabricated, are inserted into packages with any printed material that may be designed to
house or accompany them. Commercial printers and, especially, packaging specialists can help the designer
with keylines or templates to use as guides for packaging graphics. Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and
InDesign software are often used to develop the artwork for packaging and inserts.
Once packaged, DVDs are then shrink-wrapped, boxed, and shipped.
P r i m e r :
Via Web:
Via Phone:
Call the Adobe Digital Video and Audio Hotline at: (888) 724-4507
Education Customers:
Contact an Adobe Authorized Education Reseller at:
Free Tryouts:
To find the reseller nearest you, visit:
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A variety of products and
information are available
that can be helpful to learning and working with digital
video and producing DVDs.
The following information
is provided as a courtesy.
Adobe does not endorse
third-party products or
services. This listing was last
updated March 2004.
Adobe Classroom in a Book
published by Peachpit Press
Series of hands-on software training
workbooks for Adobe products;
includes CD
Visual QuickStart Guides
published by Peachpit Press
Concise, step-by-step instructions to get
you up and running quickly, and later
provide a great visual reference
Using Encore DVD
by Ralph LaBarge
published by CMP Books
ISBN: 1578202345
Featuring full-color illustrations and
graphics, Using Encore DVD gets
readers up to speed on features of
the application, and teaches the
nuances of DVD title design and
implementation. Packed with tips
and tricks that only a long-standing
professional DVD author could
impart, this comprehensive, handson guide includes sections on
adding DVD-ROM content and
DVD replication and distribution.
The companion DVD illustrates all
of the product features and provides
sample project templates.
DVD Authoring & Production:
An Authoritative Guide to DVDVideo, DVD-ROM, & WebDVD
by Ralph LaBarge
published by CMP Books
ISBN: 1578200822
According to Jim Taylor, “This book takes
up where DVD Demystified leaves off,
explaining the vital details of designing,
producing, and selling a DVD.”
DVD Demystified
by Jim Taylor
published by McGraw Hill
ISBN: 0071350268
Essential information on using or
producing DVD for home, education,
and professional use, with clear
explanations of DVD features and
technologies and over 200 informationpacked charts and figures.
Applying Adobe After Effects
Studio Techniques
by Rod Harlan
published by Sams (2000)
ISBN: 0672318563
Step-by-step instructions of popular
procedures and effects; includes CD
Creating Motion Graphics
with After Effects
by Trish and Chris Meyer
published by CMP Books (2000)
ISBN: 0879306068
Techniques for creating animation,
composites, and effects; includes CD
After Effects in Production
by Trish and Chris Meyer
published by CMP Books
ISBN: 1578200776
Companion book to Creating Motion
Graphics; includes CD and tutorials
Desktop Digital Video
by Ron Grebler
published by Prompt Publications
ISBN: 0790610957
Examines hardware and software
applications, and how to utilize them.
Digital Nonlinear Editing: Editing
Film and Video on the Desktop
by Thomas A. Ohanian
published by Butterworth-Heinemann
ISBN: 024080225X
Addresses the latest developments
in digital editing for film and video
Digital Video for Dummies
by Martin Doucette
published by: Hungry Minds, Inc.
ISBN: 0764500236
Step-by-step instructions on digital
video editing using Premiere Pro
Nonlinear: A Guide to Digital
Film and Video Editing
by Michael Rubin
published by Triad Publishing
ISBN: 0937404845
Covers topics including SMPTE timecode, component and composite video,
the post-production process, online
and offline editing, and much more.
To become an Adobe Certified Expert,
you must pass an Adobe Product
Proficiency Exam for the product
for which you want to be certified.
For more information see the
Adobe Web site at:
For more information see the
Adobe Web site at:
Adita Video Inc.
Adobe Premiere Pro training on
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Complete courses in digital
video production
Video University
Complete courses in digital
video production
Short Courses
A course in digital video
Video Highlights by Total Training:
Adobe After Effects:
Adobe Audition:
The Mining Company
Overview of desktop video
After Effects Portal
Multipurpose site with tutorials
and tips for After Effects
After Effects Freemart
After Effects tutorials
Tips on using network rendering,
3D channels, and Mesh Warp in
After Effects
Tips for low budget video-web
Video Guys
Helpful resource that explains many
of the new technologies related to
digital video
Online training libraries on Adobe
products. Learn at your own pace
with unlimited subscription access
for one full year.
Adobe Encore DVD:
Premiere Pro:
• www.mpeg.org/MPEG/
Mac Academy/Windows Academy
Premiere Pro training on CD-ROM
Phone: 386-677-1918
Fax: 386-677-6717
Adobe Digital Video Primer
Download a PDF copy from
Total Training Inc.
In-depth training on DVD for both
Premiere Pro and After Effects
Toll-free: 888-368-6825
Phone: 760-517-9001
Fax: 760-517-9060
VideoSyncrasies: The Motion
Graphics Problem Solver
Trish and Chris Meyer provide in-depth
information about motion graphics
and special effects in After Effects
VTC: The Virtual Training Company
CD and Web-based training on
Premiere Pro and After Effects
Adobe Streaming Media Primer
Download a PDF copy from
Master the Art of Digital Video
Download a PDF copy from
Adobe Product Tips
Adobe Product Support
Creative Mac
Premiere and After Effects tutorials
• www.coolstf.com/mpeg/
• www.dvddemystified.com/
• www.videoguys.com/
• www.oakmusic.com/parkplace/
• www.well.com/user/richardl/
DVD Demystified Glossary
PC Technology Guide
AV Video Multimedia Producer
Covers video production, multimedia,
and presentation
Phone: 847-559-7314
Fax: 847-291-4816
Sign up for technical support
Computer Videomaker
Covers camcorders, computers, tools
and techniques for creating video
Toll-free: 800-284-3226
Phone: 530-891-8410
Fax: 530-891-8443
Digital Editor Online
Master the tools needed to make nonlinear and digital editing profitable
Phone: 888-261-9926
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DV (Digital Video Magazine)
Covers mainstream digital video
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Broadcast Engineering
Covers broadcast technology
Desktop video
Digital Media Net
Topics related to digital
content creation
If you use an internet application that
lets you access newsgroups, you can
read and respond to postings in the
following digital video newsgroups:
• comp.graphics.animation
• rec.video.desktop
• rec.video.production
• rec.video.professional
Society of Motion Pictures and
Television Engineers
Adobe User to User Forums
Digital Video Professionals
Digital Editors
Film & Video
Covers film and video production
Phone: 847-559-7314
Fax: 847-291-4816
DVD Forum
Resource for technology trends in
animation, production and postproduction for film, video and
US Toll Free: 866-505-7173
Fax: 402-293-0741
Canopus Users Forums
Video Systems
Covers the video production process
from acquisition through presentation
US Toll-free: 866-505-7173
Fax: 402-293-0741
DMN Forums
Home of worldwide users groups
for Adobe Premiere and Adobe
After Effects users
Covers the professional video
production market
Phone: 323.634.3401
Fax: 323.634.2615
Discussions for video and television
Digital video industry news
For digital studio professionals who
capture, edit, encode, publish, and
stream digital content
Post Magazine
Resource for video, audio, and
film post-production
Toll-free: 888-527-7008
Phone: 218-723-9477
Fax: 218-723-9437
International association of hardware
manufacturers, software firms and
other users of Digital Versatile Discs
DV.com Forums
Creative Cow
Online creative communities of the
world including Premiere Pro and
After Effects user forums
Use e-mail to exchange information
and distribute questions and answers
on a particular topic.
Premiere Pro and After Effects
mailing lists
DV-L List Server
DV and FireWire technologies
DV Expo
NAB (National Association
of Broadcasters)
For Adobe Premiere Pro
For detailed descriptions of thirdparty plug-ins for Premiere Pro, visit
the Premiere Pro page on the
Adobe Web site:
For Adobe After Effects
For detailed descriptions of third-party
plug-ins for After Effects, visit the After
Effects page on the Adobe Web site:
For a list of video capture cards that
Adobe has tested and certified for
use with Premiere Pro, visit the
Adobe Web site:
Main Concept
One Chagrin Highlands
2000 Auburn Drive
Suite 200
Beachwood, Ohio 44122
Phone: 216-378-7655
Fax: 216-378-7656
QDesign Corporation
QDesign Music Codec
Phone: 604-451-1527
Fax: 604-451-1529
Helix Producer
Toll-free: 800-444-8011
Phone: 206-674-2700
Windows Media Technologies
Sorenson Media
Sorenson Video Developer and
Basic Edition
Phone: 888-767-3676
Fax: 435-792-1101
A d o b e
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Phone: 800-869-3504
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P r i m e r :
Academy Aperture: Standard 4:3 aspect ratio, socalled because it was adopted, in 1927, by the Acadmy
of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as the industry
AC-3: Another name for the Dolby Digital audioencoding system, often used in reference to DVD
because this is how the technology is referred to in the
DVD standards documents.
analog: Refers to video and audio recorded or stored
non-digitally. The principal feature of analog representations is that they are continuous. For example, clocks
with hands are analog—the hands move continuously
around the clock face. As the minute hand goes around,
it not only touches the numbers 1 through 12, but also
the infinite number of points in between. Similarly,
our experience of the world, perceived in sight and
sound, can be considered to be analog. We perceive infinitely smooth gradations of light and shadow; infinitely
smooth modulations of sound. Traditional (nondigital)
video formats such as VHS and Hi-8 are analog.
anamorphic: Refers to an image or to the technique
used to create images where the visual information in
a widescreen view is horizontally squeezed into the
narrower proportion of a standard 4:3 image. For
proper viewing, the image is expanded back to its original wide format.
angle: Also known as a camera angle, a scene recorded
from an alternate viewpoint. When used in DVD-Video,
angles offered as alternate video tracks must be of the
same duration. Up to nine angles (total) are allowed by
the DVD-Video specification.
angle menu: DVD menu used for the selection of
alternate angles.
AOB: Audio Object—a DVD audio file.
AOBS: Audio Object Set—a DVD audio file.
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artifact: Visible degradations of an image resulting
from any of a variety of processes. In digital video,
artifacts usually result from color compression and
are most noticeable around sharply contrasting color
boundaries such as black next to white.
aspect ratio: The ratio of an image’s width to its
height. For example, a standard video display has an
aspect ratio of 4:3.
assets: The video and audio clips, stills, titles, and any
other materials that comprise the content of a video or
DVD production.
audio sweetening: Processing audio to improve
sound quality or to achieve a specific effect.
authoring: For DVD-Video, the process of planning, designing, assembling, and formatting content.
The authoring process may, depending upon the software being used and individual interpretation, be seen
to included encoding video and audio, as well as creating menus.
autoplay: Describes content that is programmed to
commence play-back automatically, upon insertion into
DVD players that support automatic playback.
AVI: Defined by Microsoft, “AVI” stands for Audio
Video Interleave. AVI is one of the file formats for video
on the Microsoft Windows platform.
bandwidth: The data-carrying capacity of a device
or network. Bandwidth is the maximum amount of
data that can travel a communications path in a given
time, usually measured in kilobits per second (Kbps).
If you think of the communications path as a pipe,
then bandwidth represents the width of the pipe, which
determines how much data can flow through it at once.
Connections of 56 Kbps or lower (typical dial-up connection rates) are considered low-bandwidth, aka narrowband. High-bandwidth, aka broadband connections
are higher than 56 Kbps (for example, ISDN, DSL, cable
modem, T-1).
binary: A type of digital system used to represent
computer code in which numerical places can be held
only by ‘zero’ or ‘one’ (on or off).
bit: The smallest unit of data used by computer systems. A bit (short for binary digit) has a value of either
0 (nil) or 1. Bits are the “building blocks” of binary data.
There are eight bits in one byte.
bit depth (audio): The number of bits used to describe
each sample.
bit depth (visual): See bitmap (the two terms are not
synonymous, but are more easily explained together).
bitmap: Also known as raster, bitmap data comprises
a set of binary values specifying the color of individual
pixels that make up an image. Bitmap data is characterized by resolution and bit depth. Resolution relates to
the detail in an image, and is expressed in dots per inch
(dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). The higher the resolution
(that is, the more dots used to describe the image), the
more detail possible. Bit depth defines the number of
colors the image can display. A high-contrast (no grey
tones) black and white image is 1-bit, meaning it can be
off or on, black or white. As bit depth increases, more
colors become available:
Bit depth
Maximum colors
16.7 million
For image detail and quality, bit depth is as important as
resolution, because the bit depth determines the colors
available in the palette. When fewer colors are available,
areas that may have shown a subtle shift of tones and
hues are rendered instead as single blocks of solid color,
eliminating image detail. Bitmap data is indispensable
for continuous tone images, such as scanned or digital
photographs, and for anti-aliased images. However,
bitmap data is consistently larger than vector data.
Each pixel in a bitmap image has to be defined. A relatively
small 150-pixel x 150-pixel graphic requires 22,500 discrete
bits of information plus the palette, or color lookup table
(CLUT), that is usually included. For more information see
the online Adobe Technical Guides at http://www.adobe.
Blu-ray Disc: Not yet brought to market, but specified by
a group of DVD Forum members known as the Blu-ray
Disc Founders, this 27 GB capacity optical disc technology
would accommodate high-definition (HD) feature filmlength content. Based on a blue-violet laser rather than the
currently-standard red laser, Blu-ray Disc would require
industry retooling and new players for consumers.
camcorder: A video camera, that is, a device that records
continuous pictures and generates a signal for display or
recording. To avoid confusion, it is recommended that the
term “camcorder” be used rather than “camera”—in contrast, a digital camera records still images, while a digital
camcorder records continuous video images.
camera angle: See angle.
capture: If the source footage is analog, “capture” refers
to the act of digitization (conversion to a digital format)
to make the video usable on a computer and, usually, the
simultaneous application of compression to reduce the
video to a manageable data rate for processing and storage.
If the source video is DV, “capture” typically refers to the
simple transfer of video from an external device, such as a
digital camcorder or tape deck, to a computer hard drive.
capture card: See video capture card.
CBR: Constant bit rate compression results in a fixed data
rate. The amount of compression applied must vary, to
produce the selected rate. Poor quality may be seen where
complex scenes require greater compression to match the
selected data rate. Contrast with VBR.
chrominance: The color portion of a video signal.
clip: A digitized portion of video.
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codec: Short for compressor/decompressor; comprised of
algorithms that handle the compression of video to make it
easier to work with and store, as well as the decompression
of video for playback.
color sampling: A method of compression that reduces
the amount of color information (chrominance) while
maintaining the amount of intensity information (luminance) in images.
compositing: The process of combining two or more
images to yield a resulting, or “composite” image.
compression: Reduction of the amount of digital data
used to represent still image, video, audio, or other information to yield efficiencies in storage and transmission.
compression ratio: Degree of reduction of digital data
as compared to an uncompressed digital representation of
the information.
data rate: Amount of data moved over a period of time,
such as 10MB per second. Often used to describe a hard
drive’s ability to retrieve and deliver information.
digital: In contrast to analog, digital representations
consist of values measured at discrete intervals. Digital
clocks go from one value to the next without displaying
P r i m e r :
all intermediate values. Computers are digital machines
employing a binary system; that is, at their most basic
level they can distinguish between just two values, 0 and
1 (off and on); there is no simple way to represent all the
values in between, such as 0.25. All data that a computer
processes must be digital, encoded as a series of zeroes and
ones. Digital representations are approximations of analog
events. They are useful because they are relatively easy to
store and manipulate electronically.
Digital Versatile Disc: See DVD.
Digital Video Disc: See DVD.
digitizing: Act of converting an analog audio or video
signal to digital information.
Dolby Digital: Developed by Dolby Laboratories, Dolby
Digital has become the most commonly used audio encoding system for DVD-Video. The DVD-Video specification
for NTSC requires at least one audio track in either Dolby
Digital or PCM; DVD-Video for PAL requires at least
one Dolby Digital, PCM, or MPEG-2 audio track. Dolby
Digital can have from one to five full-range channels, plus
an LFE (Low Frequency Effects) channel. Full surroundsound Dolby Digital, utilizing all available channels, is
often referred to as “5.1 sound.” Also see AC-3.
Dolby Pro Logic: Developed by Dolby Laboratories, the
decoding process and the circuit used to apply the process
of separating discrete audio surround-sound channels
from a matrix-encoded Dolby Surround signal. Note that
Dolby Pro Logic decodes (extracts channels), while Dolby
Surround encodes (combines channels).
Dolby Surround: Multichannel surround-sound audio
that has been matrix-encoded—that is, combined—to be
carried by and played back on a standard dual-channel stereo system, and the associated encoding technology developed by Dolby Laboratories. Note that Dolby
Surround encodes (combines channels), while Dolby Pro
Logic decodes (extracts channels).
DTS: Digital theater sound, originally developed for use in
theaters, is an optional audio format for the DVD-Video
DTV: Digital television.
duration: The length of time a video or audio clip
plays—the difference in time between a clip’s In point and
Out point.
DV: Generally refers to digital video, but current usage
suggests a variety of nuances. DV can connote the type
of compression used by DV systems or a format that
incorporates DV compression. DV camcorders employ a
DV format; more specifically, a standard consumer DV
camcorder uses mini-DV tape, compresses the video using
the DV25 standard, and has a port for connecting to a
desktop computer. The DV designation is also used to for
a special type of tape cartridge used in DV camcorders and
DV tape decks.
DVD: Abbreviation for Digital Versatile Disc (sometimes
interpreted as Digital Video Disc), DVDs look like CDs but
have a much higher storage capacity—more than enough
for a feature length film that is compressed with MPEG-2.
DVDs require special hardware for playback.
DVD Forum: International consortium of consumer electronics, computer, and entertainment industry leaders that
established the initial standards for DVD technology.
DVD Multi: A logo program overseen by the DVD Forum
that identifies DVD devices (players and writers) that
support all three formats: DVD-RAM, DVD-R, and DVDRW.
DVD-RAM: The first rewritable DVD format introduced; a
double-sided disc requiring a special cartridge for handling
and recording to avoid damage to the fragile recording
DVD-ROM: A term used to refer to both physical and
application layer DVD formats. See pages 5-7 of this
Primer for an explanation.
DVD-R/DVD+R: Write-once recordable DVD disc formats, often referred to as “DVD minus R” and “DVD plus
R.” DVD-R(A), or DVD for Authoring, is used by professionals to generate masters for replication. DVD-R(G), or
DVD for General, was developed for the consumer market
and incorporates content protection measures that proclude copying of specially-protected entertainment titles.
DVD-RW/DVD+RW: Rewritable DVD disc formats, often
referred to as “DVD minus RW” and “plus RW.”
DVNR: Available as hardware or software plug-ins, Digital
Video Noise Reduction processors, simply refered to as
DVNRs, can be used to minimize any undesireable video
artifacts resulting from MPEG encoding.
DVS: Descriptive Video Services may be included as an
alternate audio track on DVD-Video, augmenting the standard sound track by describing the action so the program
can be enjoyed by visually-impaired audiences.
DV25: The most common form of DV compression, using
a fixed data rate of 25 megabits/sec.
EDL: Edit Decision List—master list of all edit in and out
points, plus any transitions, titles, and effects used in a
film or video production. The EDL can be input to an edit
controller which interprets the list of edits and controls the
decks or other gear in the system to recreate the program
from master sources.
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effect: Alteration of a frame or frames of video to change
its appearance.
fields: The sets of upper (odd) and lower (even) lines
drawn by the electron gun when illuminating the phosphors on the inside of a standard television screen, thereby
resulting in displaying an interlaced image. In the NTSC
standard, one complete vertical scan of the picture—or
field—contains 262.5 lines. Two fields make up a complete
television frame—the lines of field 1 are vertically interlaced with field 2 for 525 lines of resolution.
FireWire: Apple Computer trade name for IEEE 1394.
FPS: Frames per second; a method for describing frame
frame: A single still image in a sequence of images which,
when displayed in rapid succession, creates the illusion of
motion—the more frames per second (FPS), the smoother
the motion appears.
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frame rate: The number of images (video frames) shown
within a specified time period; often represented as FPS
(frames per second). A complete NTSC TV picture consisting of two fields, a total scanning of all 525 lines of the raster area, occurs every 1/30 of a second. In countries where
PAL and SECAM are the video standard, a frame consists
of 625 lines at 25 frames/sec.
fullscreen: Format that utilizes the entire standard aspect
ratio (4:3) television screen by: (a) displaying material
shot in Academy Aperture, (b) by lopping off the ends of
widescreen material, or (c) by employing the pan-and-scan
technique to select the optimal 4:3 shots from widescreen.
generation loss: Incremental reduction in image or
sound quality due to repeated copying of analog video
or audio information and usually caused by noise introduced during transmission. Generation loss does not
occur when copying digital video unless it is repeatedly
headroom: When capturing audio, extra data acquired as
a result of capturing at higher quality settings than needed
for the final cut. Headroom helps preserve quality when
adjusting audio gain or applying certain audio effects.
HD: Abbreviation used to refer to high definition video—
that is, video meeting the standards for HDTV.
High Definition Television (HDTV): A monitor or
display offering 720p (1280x720 pixels progressive) or
1080i (1920x1080 pixels interlaced) resolution, and capable of displaying a 16:9 image and supplying high-quality,
multichannel surround sound; the technology used to create and deliver content meeting HDTV standards.
High Density DVD (HD-DVD): The “next generation”
of DVD technology, expected to provide enough storage
on a single disc to deliver a feature length film as high
definition (HD) quality video. Several proposed specifications, including Blu-ray Disc, are under consideration by
industry leaders.
IEEE 1394: The interface standard that enables the direct
transfer of DV between devices such as a DV camcorder
and a computer; also used to describe the cables and connectors utilizing this standard.
i.LINK: The Sony trade name for IEEE 1394.
interframe compression: Reduces the amount of video
information by storing only the differences between a
frame and those that precede it. (Also known as temporal
interlaced display: System developed for early television and still in use in standard television displays. The
electron gun used to illuminate the phosphors coating
the inside of the screen alternately draws even, then odd
horizontal lines, to compensate for the limited amount of
time the phosphors will glow—by the time the even lines
are dimming, the odd lines are illuminated. To produce
the approximately 30 frames per second of NTSC TV, the
screen shows half the lines comprising each frame every
1/60th of a second. We perceive these “interlaced” fields of
lines as complete pictures. But, on larger screens, interlacing can produce a noticeable flicker, as compared to progressive scanning display.
intraframe compression: Reduces the amount of video
information in each frame, on an individual basis. (Also
known as spatial compression.)
JPEG: File format defined by the Joint Photographic
Experts Group of the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO) that sets a standard for compressing
still computer images. Because video is a sequence of still
computer images played one after another, JPEG compression can be used to compress video (see MJPEG).
keyframe: A frame selected at the beginning or end of a
sequence of frames, that is used as a reference for any of
a variety of functions. For example, in interframe video
compression, keyframes typically store complete information about the image, while the frames in between may
store only the differences between two keyframes; or, in
applying an effect to a video clip, keyframes may contain
values for all the controls in the effect and, when the values
are different for the beginning and ending keyframes, the
effect will change over time.
land: The flat areas surrounding pits on the recording
surface of an optical disc.
letterbox: When the full width of a widescreen image is
preserved on the screen of a standard 4:3 TV, black bars
are placed above and below the image to block out the
unused portions of the screen so the widescreen image can
be viewed as originally intended. DVD-Video players can
automatically letterbox a widescreen image for viewing
on a 4:3 TV.
LFE: The low frequency effects channel in 5.1-channel
surround sound such as Dolby Digital or DTS is used
to convincingly reproduce low frequency sounds in the
5-120Hz range, for example an explosion, the roar of a
locomotive or jet engine, or the rumble of a spacecraft.
While a subwoofer may be used for the .1 channel, it can
be played back through any speaker that has adequate
dynamic range.
lossless: A process that does not affect signal fidelity; for
example the transfer of DV via an IEEE 1394 connection,
or a lossless compression scheme such as RLE.
lossy: Generally refers to a compression scheme or other
process that strives to maintain as much quality as possible
while reducing storage requirement, but does result in
some degradation of signal fidelity.
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luminance: Brightness portion of a video signal.
markers: Markers are used in the editing process to
indicate important points in the Timeline or in individual
clips. Markers are for reference only; they do not alter the
video program.
matrix encoding: The process of combining multiple
audio surround-sound channels into a standard dualchannel stereo signal. Aka phase matrix encoding.
MPEG/MPEG-1/MPEG-2: The Motion Picture Expert
Group of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has defined multiple standards for compressing
audio and video sequences. Setting it apart from JPEG
which compresses individual frames, MPEG compression
uses a technique where the differences in what has changed
between one frame and its predecessor are calculated and
encoded. MPEG is both a type of compression and a video
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format. MPEG-1 was initially designed to deliver low data
rate video through a standard speed CD, and is typically
used for Video CDs and Web video delivery. MPEG-2
provides broadcast quality video, and is most often used
for DVD. MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 require a special decoder
for playback.
MPEG audio: Audio compressed according to the perceptual encoding standard specified by the Motion Pictures
Expert Group. MPEG-1 audio provides two channels for
stereo playback, which can be in the Dolby Surround format. MPEG-2 audio offers up to 7.1 channels of audio for
a true surround experience. MPEG audio is mandatory for
DVD-Video in the PAL format.
MPEG video: Video compressed according to the specifications of the Motion Picture Expert Group.
NLE: A nonlinear editing computer system.
noise: Any signal that is added to the original—that is,
any distortion of the pure audio or video signal that would
represent the original sounds and images recorded.
nonlinear editing: Random-access editing of video and
audio on a computer, allowing for edits to be processed
and re-processed at any point in the timeline, at any time.
Traditional videotape editors are linear because they
require editing video sequentially, from beginning to end.
NTSC: National Television Standards Committee standard
for color television transmission used in the United States,
Japan and elsewhere. NTSC incorporates an interlaced display with 59.94 fields per second, 29.97 frames per second.
optical disc: Removable storage medium that is written and read using laser light, for example, CD and DVD
PAL: Phase-alternating line television standard used in
most European and South American countries. PAL uses
an interlaced display with 50 fields per second, 25 frames
per second.
pan-and-scan: A technique for forcing a widescreen
image to conform to a different aspect ratio (usually 4:3 for
TV) by reframing the image—that is, cropping out parts of
the picture. DVD-Video players can automatically create a
4:3 pan-and-scan version from widescreen video by using
a horizontal offset encoded with the video.
PCM: The uncompressed representation of audio signals
in digital form. PCM stands for pulse code modulation
because it is derived by sampling the analog waveform at
regular intervals, quantizing the samples, and generating a
series of pulses represented by digital code. PCM is one of
the audio formats that may be used to fulfill the requirements of the DVD-Video specification but is rarely used
in favor of one of the compressed audio formats, typically
Dolby Digital.
phase matrix encoding: See matrix encoding.
pitch: The amount of space between tracks on an optical
pits: Microscopic depressions in the recording layer of an
optical disc that are “read” by a laser beam in the player
and translated into a binary stream which is then decoded
for audio/video playback. Contrast with land, the flat areas
surrounding pits.
pixel: An abbreviation for picture element. The minimum
computer display element, represented as a point with a
specified color and intensity level. One way to measure
image resolution is by the number of pixels used to create
the image.
post-production: The phase of a film or video project
that involves editing and assembling footage and adding
effects, graphics, titles, and sound.
preproduction: The planning phase of a film or
video project—usually completed prior to commencing
previsualization: A method of communicating a project
concept by creating storyboards or rough animations or
production: The phase of a film or video project comprised of shooting or recording raw footage.
progressive scanning display: A method for displaying
video that shows all the scan lines in one pass, every 1/60th
of a second (compare to interlaced display). Progressive
scanning reduces the flicker caused by interlacing on larger
size displays, but requires more bandwidth.
resolution: The amount of information in each frame of
video, normally represented by the number of horizontal
pixels times the number of vertical pixels (for example 720
x 480). All other things being equal, a higher resolution will
result in a better quality image.
RGB: Red-Green-Blue—a way of describing images by
breaking a color down in terms of the amounts of the three
primary colors (in the additive color system) which must
be combined to display that color on a computer monitor.
sample rate: In digital audio, the number of samples
per second; the higher the number, the better the sound
scope: Short for Cinemascope, the first commerciallysuccessful widescreen format, scope became the generic
term for film either shot or exhibited in any widescreen
SDDS: Sony Dynamic Digital Sound is an optional audio
format for DVD-Video that was original developed for
theater surround-sound.
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subpicture: A bitmap graphic overlay used in DVDVideo to create subtitles, menu highlights, and more.
temporal compression: See interframe.
time code: Time reference added to video that allows
for extremely accurate editing; may be thought of as the
“address” on a tape that pinpoints where the clip begins
(in) and ends (out).
timeline: The graphical representation of program
duration, on which video, audio and graphics clips are
track: (1) On the recording surface of an optical disc, a
single revolution in the continuous spiral along which
the pits are arranged. (2) In reference to DVD content,
a discrete element such as a video, audio, or still-image
stream. For any given sequence, the DVD-Video specification allows up to nine different simultaneous video tracks,
or angles; up to eight tracks of digital audio; and up to 32
subpicture tracks.
24-bit color: Type of color representation used by most
computers. For each of the red, green, and blue components, 8 bits of information are stored and transmitted—
24 bits in total. With these 24 bits of information, over a
million different variations of color can be represented.
uncompressed: Digitized video that has no information
removed from it. Also called “raw” video.
VBR: Variable bit rate compression strives to glean the
most efficient utilization of available bandwidthand produce consistent quality by allowing the data rate to vary
between selected minimum and maximum rates. Contrast
with CBR.
video capture card (or board): Installed inside
a computer, adds the functionality needed to digitize
analog video for use by the computer. Using a hardware
or software codec, the capture card also compresses video
In and decompresses video Out for display on a television
widescreen: Any aspect ratio for film and video wider
than the standard 4:3 format; previously used to refer to
wide-aspect film formats; now typically used to refer to the
16:9 format that has become standard widescreen for DVD
because this is the aspect ratio specified for HDTV.
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spatial compression: See intraframe compression.
Adobe, the Adobe logo, Adobe Audition, Adobe Encore, Adobe Premiere, After Effects, GoLive, Illustrator, and Photoshop are registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated
in the United States and/or other countries. Apple and Mac are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. Dolby is a trademark of Dolby
Laboratories. Microsoft, Windows, and Windows Media are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks
are the property of their respective owners. © 2004 Adobe Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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