How dvd works

A DVD is very similar to a CD, but it has a much larger data capacity. A standard DVD holds about seven times more data than a CD does. This huge capacity means that a DVD has enough room to store a full-length, MPEG-2-encoded movie, as well as a lot of other information.

Here are the typical contents of a DVD movie:
Up to 133 minutes of high-resolution video, in letterbox or pan-and-scan format, with 720 dots of horizontal resolution (The video compression ratio is typically 40:1 using MPEG-2 compression.)
Soundtrack presented in up to eight languages using 5.1 channel Dolby digital surround sound
Subtitles in up to 32 languages

DVD can also be used to store almost eight hours of CD-quality music per side.

The format offers many advantages over VHS tapes:
DVD picture quality is better, and many DVDs have Dolby Digital or DTS sound, which is much closer to the sound you experience in a movie theater.

Many DVD movies have an on-screen index, where the creator of the DVD has labeled many of the significant parts of the movie, sometimes with a picture. With your remote, if you select the part of the movie you want to view, the DVD player will take you right to that part, with no need to rewind or fast-forward.

DVD players are compatible with audio CDs.
Some DVD movies have both the letterbox format, which fits wide-screen TVs, and the standard TV size format, so you can choose which way you want to watch the movie.DVD movies may have several soundtracks on them, and they may provide subtitles in different languages. Foreign movies may give you the choice between the version dubbed into your language, or the original soundtrack with subtitles in your language.
Storing Data on a DVD
DVDs are of the same diameter and thickness as CDs, and they are made using some of the same materials and manufacturing methods. Like a CD, the data on a DVD is encoded in the form of small pits and bumps in the track of the disc.

A DVD is composed of several layers of plastic, totaling about 1.2 millimeters thick. Each layer is created by injection molding polycarbonate plastic. This process forms a disc that has microscopic bumps arranged as a single, continuous and extremely long spiral track of data. More on the bumps later.

Once the clear pieces of polycarbonate are formed, a thin reflective layer is sputtered onto the disc, covering the bumps. Aluminum is used behind the inner layers, but a semi-reflective gold layer is used for the outer layers, allowing the laser to focus through the outer and onto the inner layers. After all of the layers are made, each one is coated with lacquer, squeezed together and cured under infrared light. For single-sided discs, the label is silk-screened onto the nonreadable side. Double-sided discs are printed only on the nonreadable area near the hole in the middle. Cross sections of the various types of completed DVDs (not to scale) look like this:
  • How dvd works

    DVD formats


    Data tracks on a DVD
    Each writable layer of a DVD has a spiral track of data. On single-layer DVDs, the track always circles from the inside of the disc to the outside. That the spiral track starts at the center means that a single-layer DVD can be smaller than 12 centimeters if desired.
    What the image to the right cannot impress upon you is how incredibly tiny the data track is -- just 740 nanometers separate one track from the next (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter). And the elongated bumps that make up the track are each 320 nanometers wide, a minimum of 400 nanometers long and 120 nanometers high. The following figure illustrates looking through the polycarbonate layer at the bumps.

  • DVD pit layout
    You will often read about "pits" on a DVD instead of bumps. They appear as pits on the aluminum side, but on the side that the laser reads from, they are bumps.
    The microscopic dimensions of the bumps make the spiral track on a DVD extremely long. If you could lift the data track off a single layer of a DVD, and stretch it out into a straight line, it would be almost 7.5 miles long! That means that a double-sided, double-layer DVD would have 30 miles (48 km) of data!
DVDs can store more data than CDs for a few reasons:
  • Higher-density data storage
  • Less overhead, more area
  • Multi-layer storage
Higher Density Data Storage
Single-sided, single-layer DVDs can store about seven times more data than CDs. A large part of this increase comes from the pits and tracks being smaller on DVDs.
Specification
CD

DVD
Track Pitch
1600 nanometers

740 nanometers
Minimum Pit Length
(single-layer DVD)

830 nanometers

400 nanometers
Minimum Pit Length
(double-layer DVD)

830 nanometers

440 nanometers

Let's try to get an idea of how much more data can be stored due to the physically tighter spacing of pits on a DVD. The track pitch on a DVD is 2.16 times smaller, and the minimum pit length for a single-layer DVD is 2.08 times smaller than on a CD. By multiplying these two numbers, we find that there is room for about 4.5 times as many pits on a DVD. So where does the rest of the increase come from?

On a CD, there is a lot of extra information encoded on the disc to allow for error correction -- this information is really just a repetition of information that is already on the disc. The error correction scheme that a CD uses is quite old and inefficient compared to the method used on DVDs. The DVD format doesn't waste as much space on error correction, enabling it to store much more real information. Another way that DVDs achieve higher capacity is by encoding data onto a slightly larger area of the disc than is done on a CD.

To increase the storage capacity even more, a DVD can have up to four layers, two on each side. The laser that reads the disc can actually focus on the second layer through the first layer. Here is a list of the capacities of different forms of DVDs: 

Format
Capacity

Approx. Movie Time
Single-sided/single-layer
4.38 GB

2 hours
Single-sided/double-layer
7.95 GB

4 hours
Double-sided/single-layer
8.75 GB

4.5 hours
Double-sided/double-layer
15.9 GB

Over 8 hours

You may be wondering why the capacity of a DVD doesn't double when you add a whole second layer to the disc. This is because when a disc is made with two layers, the pits have to be a little longer, on both layers, than when a single layer is used. This helps to avoid interference between the layers, which would cause errors when the disc is played.

The DVD Video Format




DVD Fact
If an average DVD movie were uncompressed, it would take at least a year to download it over a normal phone line.
Even though its storage capacity is huge, the uncompressed video data of a full-length movie would never fit on a DVD. In order to fit a movie on a DVD, you need video compression. A group called the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) establishes the standards for compressing moving pictures.
When movies are put onto DVDs, they are encoded in MPEG-2 format and then stored on the disc. This compression format is a widely accepted international standard. Your DVD player contains an MPEG-2 decoder, which can uncompress this data as quickly as you can watch it.
The MPEG-2 Format and Data Size Reduction
A movie is usually filmed at a rate of 24 frames per second. This means that every second, there are 24 complete images displayed on the movie screen. American and Japanese television use a format called NTSC, which displays a total of 30 frames per second; but it does this in a sequence of 60 fields, each of which contains alternating lines of the picture. Other countries use PAL format, which displays at 50 fields per second, but at a higher resolution (see How Video Formatting Works for details on these formats). Because of the differences in frame rate and resolution, an MPEG movie needs to be formatted for either the NTSC or the PAL system.
The MPEG encoder that creates the compressed movie file analyzes each frame and decides how to encode it. The compression uses some of the same technology as still image compression does to eliminate redundant or irrelevant data. It also uses information from other frames to reduce the overall size of the file. Each frame can be encoded in one of three ways:
  • As an intraframe - An intraframe contains the complete image data for that frame. This method of encoding provides the least compression.
  • As a predicted frame - A predicted frame contains just enough information to tell the DVD player how to display the frame based on the most recently displayed intraframe or predicted frame. This means that the frame contains only the data that relates to how the picture has changed from the previous frame.
  • As a bidirectional frame - In order to display this type of frame, the player must have the information from the surrounding intraframe or predicted frames. Using data from the closest surrounding frames, it uses interpolation (something like averaging) to calculate the position and color of each pixel.

Did you know?
DVDs often have special features hidden on the disc. These "Easter eggs" can be previews of other movies, computer software or music. DVD Review has a listing of some great Easter eggs that viewers have found on DVDs.
Depending on the type of scene being converted, the encoder will decide which types of frames to use. If a newscast were being converted, a lot more predicted frames could be used, because most of the scene is unaltered from one frame to the next. On the other hand, if a very fast action scene were being converted, in which things changed very quickly from one frame to the next, more intraframes would have to be encoded. The newscast would compress to a much smaller size than the action sequence.
If all of this sounds complicated, then you are starting to get a feeling for how much work your DVD player does to decode an MPEG-2 movie. A lot of processing power is required; even some computers with DVD players can't keep up with the processing required to play a DVD movie.

DVD Audio

DVD audio and DVD video are different formats. DVD audio discs and players are relatively rare right now, but they will become more common, and the difference in sound quality should be noticeable. In order to take advantage of higher-quality DVD audio discs, you will need a DVD player with a 192kHz/24-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Most DVD players have only a 96kHz/24-bit digital-to-analog converter. So if you want to be able to listen to DVD audio discs, be sure to look for a DVD audio player with a 192kHz/24-bit digital-to-analog converter.

DVD audio recordings can provide far better sound quality than CDs. The chart below lists the sampling rate and accuracy for CD recordings and the maximum sampling rate and accuracy for DVD recordings. CDs can hold 74 minutes of music. DVD audio discs can hold 74 minutes of music at their highest quality level, 192kHz/24-bit audio. By lowering either the sampling rate or the accuracy, DVDs can be made to hold more music. A DVD audio disc can store up to two hours of 6-channel, better than CD quality, 96kHz/24-bit music. Lower the specifications further, and a DVD audio disc can hold almost seven hours of CD-quality audio. 

Specification
CD Audio

DVD Audio
Sampling Rate
44.1 kHz

192 kHz
Samples Per Second
44,100

192,000
Sampling Accuracy
16-bit

24-bit
Number of Possible Output Levels
65,536

16,777,216

In an audio CD or DVD, each bit represents a digital command telling the DAC what voltage level to output (see How Analog and Digital Recording Works for details). While an ideal recording would follow the raw waveform exactly, digital recordings sample the sound at different frequencies, and therefore lose some of the data.

Comparison of a raw audio signal to the CD audio and DVD audio output
The graph above shows how the highest quality DVD audio compares to CD audio. You can see that DVD follows the signal more closely, but it's still a long way from perfect.

To get the full experience of the Dolby Digital sound used on many DVDs, you need a home theater system with five speakers, a subwoofer, and a receiver that is either "Dolby Digital ready" or has a built-in Dolby Digital decoder.

If your receiver is Dolby Digital ready, then it does not have a Dolby Digital decoder, so you need to buy a DVD player with its own Dolby Digital decoder and 5.1 channel outputs. If you also want your system to be compatible with DTS sound, then your DVD player will need a DTS decoder, too.

In which the filmmaker talks about the movie while it is running. This can be very exciting for true film buffs. DVDs can also contain extra, previously unreleased scenes. And a DVD is sometimes a director's cut -- the film as the director originally intended it. If your receiver has its own Dolby Digital decoder and DTS decoder, then you don't need a DVD player with 5.1 channel outputs, and you can save some money on cables by using the digital output.


Related Posts

How dvd works
4/ 5
Oleh

Contact Me

Name

Email *

Message *