What is DVD?
DVD is a digital optical disc storage format invented and developed in 1995. The medium can store any kind of digital data and is widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions. Prerecorded DVDs are mass-produced using molding machines that physically stamp data onto the DVD. Such discs are a form of DVD-ROM because data can only be read and not written or erased. Blank recordable DVD discs can be recorded once using a DVD recorder and then function as a DVD-ROM. Rewritable DVDs can be recorded and erased many times. They are used in DVD-Video consumer digital video format and in DVD-Audio consumer digital audio format as well as for authoring DVD discs written in a special AVCHD format to hold high definition material. DVD’s were several formats developed for recording video on optical discs before the DVD. Optical recording technology was invented by David Paul Gregg and James Russell in 1958 and first patented in 1961. A consumer optical disc data format known as LaserDisc was developed in the United States, and first came to market in Atlanta, Georgia in 1978. It used much larger discs than the later formats. Due to the high cost of players and discs, consumer adoption of LaserDisc was very low in both North America and Europe, and was not widely used anywhere outside Japan and the more affluent areas of Southeast Asia, such as Hong-Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. CD Video released in 1987 used analog video encoding on optical discs matching the established standard 120 mm size of audio CDs. Video CD became one of the first formats for distributing digitally encoded films in this format, in 1993. In the same year, two new optical disc storage formats were being developed. One was the Multimedia Compact Disc, backed by Philips and Sony, and the other was the Super Density disc, supported by Toshiba, Time Warner, Matsushita Electric, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, Pioneer, Thomson, and JVC. By the time of the press launches for both formats in January 1995, the MMCD nomenclature had been dropped, and Philips and Sony were referring to their format as Digital Video Disc. Representatives from the SD camp asked IBM for advice on the file system to use for their disc, and sought support for their format for storing computer data. Alan E. Bell, a researcher from IBM’s Almaden Research Center, got that request, and also learned of the MMCD development project. Wary of being caught in a repeat of the costly videotape format war between VHS and Betamax in the 1980s, he convened a group of computer industry experts, including representatives from Apple, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Dell, and many others. This group was referred to as the Technical Working Group, or TWG. On August 14, 1995, an ad hoc group formed from five computer companies issued a press release stating that they would only accept a single format. The TWG voted to boycott both formats unless the two camps agreed on a single, converged standard. They recruited Lou Gerstner, president of IBM, to pressure the executives of the warring factions. In one significant compromise, the MMCD and SD groups agreed to adopt proposal SD 9, which specified that both layers of the dual-layered disc be read from the same side—instead of proposal SD 10, which would have created a two-sided disc that users would have to turn over. As a result, the DVD specification provided a storage capacity of 4.7 GB for a single-layered, single-sided disc and 8.5 GB for a dual-layered, single-sided disc.
The DVD specification ended up similar to Toshiba and Matsushita’s Super Density Disc, except for the dual-layer option and EFMPlus modulation designed by Kees Schouhamer Immink. Philips and Sony decided that it was in their best interests to end the format war, and agreed to unify with companies backing the Super Density Disc to release a single format, with technologies from both. After other compromises between MMCD and SD, the computer companies through TWG won the day, and a single format was agreed upon. The TWG also collaborated with the Optical Storage Technology Association on the use of their implementation of the ISO-13346 file system for use on the new DVDs. The DVD specifications created and updated by the DVD Forum are published as so-called DVD Books. HP initially developed recordable DVD media from the need to store data for backup and transport. Dual-layer recording (sometimes also known as double-layer recording) allows DVD-R and DVD+R discs to store significantly more data—up to 8.5 gigabytes per disc, compared with 4.7 gigabytes for single-layer discs. Along with this, DVD-DLs have slower write speeds as compared to ordinary DVDs. When played, a slight transition can sometimes be seen in the playback when the player changes layers. DVD-R DL was developed for the DVD Forum by Pioneer Corporation; DVD+R DL was developed for the DVD+RW Alliance by Mitsubishi Kagaku Media and Philips. A dual-layer disc differs from its single layered counterpart by employing a second physical layer within the disc itself. The drive with dual-layer capability accesses the second layer by shining the laser through the first semitransparent layer. In some DVD players, the layer change can exhibit a noticeable pause, up to several seconds. This caused some viewers to worry that their dual-layer discs were damaged or defective, with the end result that studios began listing a standard message explaining the dual-layer pausing effect on all dual-layer disc packaging.
DVD recordable discs supporting this technology are backward-compatible with some existing DVD players and DVD-ROM drives. Many current DVD recorders support dual-layer technology, and the price is now comparable to that of single-layer drives, although the blank media remain more expensive. The recording speeds reached by dual-layer media are still well below those of single-layer media. Dual layer DVDs are recorded using Opposite Track Path. DVD-ROM discs mastered for computer use are produced with track 0 starting at the inside diameter. Track 1 then starts at the outside diameter. DVD video discs are mastered slightly differently. The video is divided between the layers such that layer 1 can be made to start at the same diameter that layer 0 finishes. This speeds up the transition as the layer changes because although the laser does have to refocus on layer 1, it does not have to skip across the disc to find it. In 2006, two new formats called HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc were released as the successor to DVD. HD DVD competed unsuccessfully with Blu-ray Disc in the format war of 2006–2008. A dual layer HD DVD can store up to 30 GB and a dual layer Blu-ray disc can hold up to 50 GB. However, unlike previous format changes, e.g., vinyl to Compact Disc or VHS videotape to DVD, there is no immediate indication that production of the standard DVD will gradually wind down, as they still dominate, with around 75% of video sales and approximately one billion DVD player sales worldwide as of 3 April 2011. In fact, experts claim that the DVD will remain the dominant medium for at least another five years as Blu-ray technology is still in its introductory phase, write and read speeds being poor and necessary hardware being expensive and not readily available. Consumers initially were also slow to adopt Blu-ray due to the cost. By 2009, 85% of stores were selling Blu-ray Discs. A high-definition television and appropriate connection cables are also required to take advantage of Blu-ray disc. Some analysts suggest that the biggest obstacle to replacing DVD is due to its installed base; a large majority of consumers are satisfied with DVDs. The DVD succeeded because it offered a compelling alternative to VHS. In addition, the uniform media size let manufacturers make Blu-ray players and now defunct format HD DVD players backward-compatible, so they can play older DVDs. This stands in contrast to the change from vinyl to CD, and from tape to DVD, which involved a complete change in physical medium. As of 2018 it is still commonplace for studios to issue major releases in “combo pack” format, including both a DVD and a Blu-ray disc. Also, some multi-disc sets use Blu-ray for the main feature, but DVDs for supplementary features. Another reason cited for the slower transition to Blu-ray from DVD is the necessity of and confusion over “firmware updates” and needing an internet connection to perform updates. This situation is similar to the changeover from 78 rpm shellac recordings to 45 rpm and 33⅓ rpm vinyl recordings. Because the new and old mediums were virtually the same;phonograph player manufacturers continued to include the ability to play 78s for decades after the format was discontinued. Manufacturers continue to release standard DVD titles as of 2018, and the format remains the preferred one for the release of older television programs and films. Some programs, such as Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation must be re-scanned to produce a high definition version from the original film recordings. DVDs are also facing competition from video on demand services. With increasing numbers of homes having high speed Internet connections, many people now have the option to either rent or buy video from an online service, and view it by streaming it directly from that service’s servers, meaning that the customer need not have any form of permanent storage media for video at all. PWC predicts that online streaming revenue will overtake physical media sales revenue by 2018. Globally, the total combined revenue from over-the-top /streaming services and broadcasters’ video on demand services is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.9% to overtake physical home video revenue in 2018. By 2017, digital streaming services had overtaken the sales of DVDs and Blu-rays for the first time.