Digital Versatile Disk (Digital Video Disk): A new video format for storing full length motion picture images on a 5” (120mm) compact disc (CD) using MPEG-2 compression for “better than VHS” quality.

DVD a high density development of the Compact Disk. It is the same size as a CD but stores from 4.38 GB (seven times CD capacity) on a single sided, single layer disk. DVDs can also be double sided or duel layer – storing even more data.

The capacities commonly available at present:

DVD-5 Single-side, single layer 4.38 GB
DVD-9 Single-side, dual layer 7.95 GB
DVD-10 Double-sided, single layer 8.75 GB

Future versions will have capacities rising from the current 4.38 GB to 15 GB with blue laser technology in the medium term, in the longer term 50 GB is a target achievable with advanced modulation schemes.


This combines the DVD optical disk with MPEG-2 video compression, has multi-channel audio, subtitles and copy protection capability for recording video on a CD-sized disk.

To maximise quality and playing time DVD-Video uses variable bit rate (VBR) MPEG-2 coding where the bit rate varies with the demands of the material. Typically a 525/60 TV format, 24fps movie would use an average bit rate of 3.5 Mb/s, but for sections with a great deal of movement it would peak at 8 or 9 Mb/s. Only 24 fps are coded onto the disk, the 3:2 pulldown conversion to 30 fps being performed in the player. This allows a 120 minute 24 fps movie to fit on a DVD-5.


For continuous playback of long movies, dual layer DVD-9 disks can employ a reverse spiral so the second layer starts where the first ends. This transition is supported by all DVD-Video players.

16:9 Widescreen

DVD-Video is the first domestic format natively to support anamorphic 16:9 video.

Multi-channel Audio

DVD-Video supports PCM, MPEG and Dolby Digital.

Region Coding

Disks can be region coded so as only to play in a particular region (as defined in the player), a set of regions or be ‘code-free’. A region coded disk can only play on a player that is allowed by the coding.



Pank, B., Editor, 1994, The Digital Fact Book, 7th Ed, Quantel, Newbury, UK