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DVD Authoring Frequently Asked Questions
What types of DLT tapes do you accept?
Is a DVD master acceptable for VHS duplication?
Can you accept Widescreen format video for DVD authoring?
What is anamorphic?
What tape formats do you accept for DVD authoring?
Can you take my DVD master and add copy protection?
Can you take my DVD master and add a menu?
What are region codes?
What is the difference between the NTSC and PAL Video standard?
Can I make a DVD that will play anywhere?
Can I add a web link to my DVD?
How many minutes can I fit on a DVD-5?  A DVD-9?
What is the difference between a DVD- 5, DVD-9, and a DVD-10?
Can I use a DVD+R DL for my DVD-9 master?
Can my DVD have surround sound?
What is AC-3 audio?

My master was rejected because it has MPEG-2 audio, why?
How much video will fit on a DVD?
What master formats do you accept?
What factors should I consider when creating a DVD to make sure it is the most compatible with standalone players?
How can I author my DVD?
What is the difference between DVD replication and DVD duplication?
Should I get replication or duplication?
Should I get copy protection for my DVD?
What is the proper format to submit subtitles?
Where can I find out about Blu-Ray?
What is Region Coding?

What types of DLT tapes do you accept?
We accept Type III and Type IV tapes written on DLT 4000, DLT 7000, or DLT 8000 drives. Tapes written on DLT-1 drives can also be accepted if clearly labeled "DLT-1". We cannot accept tapes written on VS-80 or SDLT drives.

All DLT masters must be written without data compression, DDP 2.0 format, and must be written directly from your DVD authoring application.

Is a DVD master acceptable for VHS duplication?
We will accept a DVD as a master for VHS duplication if the DVD does not use a menu to initiate or navigate the content of the disc. Additionally, all content must be contained within a single VTS or track within the DVD.

For the best quality VHS duplication we advise you to supply your master in a quality professional format such as Digital Betacam, BetaSP, DVCAM, or mini-DV. Please consult your Product Specialist for details.

Can you accept Widescreen format video for DVD authoring?
Yes. We accept 16x9 (anamorphic) video from any of the professional master formats we accept. Please indicate on the master that the program is 16x9 anamorphic.

What is anamorphic?
Anamorphic refers to widescreen (16:9) video that has been horizontally squeezed to fit the NTSC standard 4:3 ratio. The video stream can be flagged during the MPEG encoding process to trigger the correct playback ratio from your DVD.

What tape formats do you accept for DVD authoring?

Video – Tape Formats:

Betacam (Beta) / Betacam SP (BetaSP) / Digital Betacam (DigiBeta) / Betacam SX (BetaSX) / MiniDV ( SP mode only ) / DV/ DVCAM, SVHS and VHS – Masters must be submitted Non Drop-frame only

Supported Videotape formats at additional cost:

3/4" / 1" / DVCPRO/D2, D3, D5/16mm, 35mm Film

$1 per minute after 10

Uncompressed digital video files (AVI (Windows Media Codec), Quicktime) on CDR, DVD-R, or Firewire Hard Drive – call for pricing.

PAL to NTSC conversion at additional cost

*All sources must be edited to the following specifications to ensure proper encoding and avoid additional charges.


Program start should be set to 01:00:00:00

:30 seconds black
1:00 SMPTE Bars (full field)/ and 1k Tone
:30 seconds of black before the start of your program.
Program Material
1:00 of black (at the tail of the program).

*All tapes are encoded as is with no additional color correction or audio enhancement. Masters not set up using the above specifications may result in additional charges.

Can you take my DVD master and add copy protection?
Strictly speaking, no. Copy protection (CSS and/or Macrovision) for a DVD requires a master supplied on DLT, which has been flagged for copy protection by the author. DVD+/-R media does not support the required flags. If your project will require copy protection we advise you to address the issue with your DVD authoring facility at the outset of your project. Freedom Disc' authoring services include full support for both CSS and Macrovision copy protection.

However, we have been successful in re-authoring some customer's DVD projects to include copy protection. We do charge for this service, and in most cases there are no cost savings over our normal DVD authoring rates. While the image quality of the supplied video is retained, we must recreate all the programming functions and recreate menu highlights, and as a result we cannot guarantee your new master will be identical to your source DVD. This service should be considered a last resort.

Macrovision is a technology which makes it difficult to copy DVDs with analog equipment, such as VCRs. Applying Macrovision protection to your DVD must be done during the authoring phase, and there is a per-disc royalty due to Macrovision for titles protected by their technology. We support Type 2 Macrovision, which is the type most commonly used.

CSS (Content Scramble System) is the digital copy protection system built into the DVD format. CSS makes it more difficult to copy DVDs using computers and other digital devices. There is no per-disc royalty for using CSS, but the DVD must be authored properly to allow for CSS and there us a extra flat-fee for each project, regardless of qty of discs. Supporting CSS requires that the master must be on DLT tape, not a DVD-R. We support Type 3 CSS, which is the type most commonly used.

"It is important to remember that no form of copy protection is guaranteed to prevent people from copying your titles. There are various VCRs and electronic components available which defeat Macrovision, and there are several different software programs available that easily copy CSS protected DVDs." -- The Big Kahuna

If you are preparing a DVD master yourself and wish to include copy protection, please contact us so we can ensure that you master your title correctly.

Can you take my DVD master and add a menu?
Yes, we can author a new DVD master with menus, in the context of our Deluxe DVD authoring package. We would simply use the video from your DVD in lieu of any video that we would otherwise encode from tape. The downside to this approach is that we are unable to make any changes to video supplied in this manner. If you are satisfied with the quality of the video on your DVD, then this approach is generally successful. In this same manner we can create a new DVD from multiple DVD sources when needed.

What are region codes?
Region codes are very simple in concept. A DVD can be set to be playable in single and/or multiple regions during the authoring stage. DVD players sold in a particular region will only accept DVDs authorized for that region. Below is a chart outlining the 8 region codes defined in the DVD specification.

Region #
Countries included in region
U.S., Canada, U.S. Territories
Japan, Europe, South Africa and Middle East (including Egypt)
Southeast Asia and East Asia (including Hong Kong)
Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean
Eastern Europe (Former Soviet Union), Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea, and Mongolia
Special international venues (airplanes, cruise ships, etc.)

Region codes exist for the benefit of the owner or distributor of a DVD title, and they protect the rights of a distributor in one region from encroachment by a distributor from another region. The region code is an entirely separate issue from the underlying video standard of a DVD. As a final note on the subject, it is important to remember that region codes can only be set during the authoring process, not during manufacturing. Be sure to consult your author prior to completion of your master.

What is the difference between the NTSC and PAL Video standard?
Video that is intended for viewing on a television, whether on a tape, a DVD, or delivered via satellite or cable, needs to meet the standards of the country in which it will be viewed. In North America, that is NTSC , ( National Television System Committee ). NTSC video is 29.97 frames per second or fps, at a size of 720x486. The NTSC standard is also used in other countries including Japan, South Korea, and most of Central and South America. You will notice that does not include Europe, China, Australia, and most other Asian countries. These areas use another standard known as PAL ( Phase Alternation Line ). PAL video is 25 fps, at a size of 768x576. Based on the NTSC system, it was modified to avoid color distortion. Broadcast started in 1967. Just for good measure lets mention SECAM , ( Sequential Couleur Avec Memoire ), developed in France. Broadcast started in 1967 and used by France and many former French colonies

Can I make a DVD that will play anywhere?
In short, no. But we have prepared the following information to help you judge the best format or formats for your project.
Computer playback - Fortunately, any computer that can playback a DVD- video will be able to use both NTSC and PAL.
Most PAL DVD players will read NTSC discs - there are two parts to this equation: the DVD player and the TV. Nearly all PAL DVD players will read NTSC DVDs, and output some interpretation of the signal to the TV. Most, but not all modern PAL televisions can display this signal, but you will not achieve 100% perfect playback for all your viewers. A common complaint is the loss of color information resulting in black and white playback. PAL and SECAM are nearly identical - in areas concerning DVD we will treat SECAM as PAL.

NTSC DVD players will not read PAL discs - with the exception of a few specialty players, North American NTSC DVD players do not play PAL discs, period. If you are planning on importing a European video program to the US, plan on a complete rebuild of the project, staring with the video source.

A PAL DVD cannot be directly converted to NTSC - It is important to understand that it is not the physical DVD that is in one format or another, it is the underlying video content. As described above, the differences between NTSC and PAL video are in the image size and the frame rate. To create the NTSC, one has to start with an NTSC video source and the menu assets for the DVD, and then re-author the project from the ground up. This often means taking the original PAL video (tape) master and have a professional standards conversion done. Freedom Disc offers this service at an additional cost.

Can I add a web link to my DVD?
Yes. We can add web links, email links and links to files that are included on your DVD when we are authoring a Deluxe DVD package (these links will only be active when the DVD is viewed on a computer). The user may need to install a small software program prior to the first use of these links, which we include on any web-enabled DVD master that we author. We cannot add web links to projects that we have not authored at Freedom Disc.

How many minutes can I fit on a DVD-5?  A DVD-9?
What is the difference between a DVD- 5, DVD-9, and a DVD-10?
In answer to both these questions we have prepared this table for your reference.

Capacity (GB)
Capacity (video minutes)

Please note that the two-sided DVD-10 is somewhat rare, and there is no interactivity between one side and the other.

Can I use a DVD+R DL for my DVD-9 master?
Yes, we are accepting Dual Layer (DL) DVD+R masters for projects that do not require copy protection. Please note that this recordable format is relatively new, and we have experienced a slightly higher rejection rate at our plant for DL masters. We advise you to use great care in preparing your DL master and be sure your DVD authoring software fully supports burning to Dual Layer recordable media.
Can my DVD have surround sound? What is AC-3 audio?
DVDs support several configurations of audio, including mono, stereo and "surround". Mono or stereo audio may be uncompressed PCM (equivalent to CD audio) or Dolby Digital a format for audio data compression also known as AC-3. Multi-channel or surround audio is supported via Dolby Digital in several configurations, most commonly 5.1. The 5.1 configuration consists of Left, Center, and Right speakers in front, and Left Surround and Right Surround speakers placed on the sides of the listener.

Freedom Disc can accept discrete WAV or AIFF files for authoring DVDs with surround audio. Please have your audio technician contact our authoring department for details. Contact your Product Specialist for a custom quote if your authoring project will include surround audio.

My master was rejected because it has MPEG-2 audio, why?
MPEG-2 is an alternative compression format for audio, which may include multiple channels like Dolby Digital. However, MPEG-2 is not included in the specifications for NTSC DVD players, though some players in fact do support the format. But the format is considered "out-of-spec" for North America, so we have to reject any DVD master which uses this as the primary audio format.

Tech Tip: Prior to authoring your DVD project, check the default parameters for your encoding or authoring software to disable MPEG-2 audio, which seems to be the default for a small handful of software packages on the market today.

How much video will fit on a DVD?
While a good rule of thumb is that it takes about two gigabytes to store one hour of average video, the amount of video a DVD can hold depends on the amount of audio and the type of audio/video compression, as well as the associated audio tracks, menu complexity, and additional material. This means that a DVD-5, DVD-R, or DVD+R can hold up to about 130 minutes of high-quality digital video with standard bit-rate and a 48kHz audio stream. However, if the DVD has only one audio track, it can hold over 160 minutes at excellent quality. DVD-9 will hold about 4 hours of video, whereas a DVD-18 can hold about 8 hours of high-quality video. A single DVD-18 can hold a whole library of VHS-quality material - about 30 hours' worth!

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What master formats do you accept?
We can accept your master on one of the following formats: VHS, SVHS, DVCAM, MiniDV, DVCPro, Beta SP, digital Beta, 1 inch (type C), D2, D3, DVD-R, DVD+R. For DVD-9 with copy protection, you must supply two DLT masters (layer 0 and layer 1) or for DVD-9 without copy protection a DVD-DL can be supplied. DLT is also acceptable for DVD-5 and DVD-10. Any project requiring CSS or Macrovision copy protection must be authored as such and must be submitted on DLT. All DLT masters must include DDP files. Projects with copy protection authored with DVD Studio Pro can be supplied on a DVD-R provided it’s formatted as a DDP. Call for details. DVD-ReWritable (DVD-RW) discs should not be used for making DVD masters.

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What factors should I consider when creating a DVD to make sure it is the most compatible with standalone players?
Authoring and encoding are the most important factors impacting on compatibility (see below). Besides this, there are three other important things to keep in mind to maximize your disc's compatibility:

1. Media. Not all DVD players can play duplicated (write-once) DVD-Rs and DVD+Rs. For maximum compatibility, consider having the discs replicated instead (see below).

2. Regional encoding. Motion picture studios often want to control the home release of movies in different countries to guarantee the exclusivity of local distribution rights, and because of release timing: a movie may come out on DVD in one country when it's just hitting screens in another. Region locks generally only apply to replicated DVDs, and they are entirely optional for the maker of a disc.

3. Video format standards. Different countries have different formats for their television systems. The United States and Latin American countries use the 525/60 NTSC standard, whereas most other nations use the 625/50 PAL format. Although the MPEG video on DVD is stored in digital format, it is formatted for one of the two mutually incompatible television systems; therefore, there are two kinds of DVDs: "NTSC DVDs" and "PAL DVDs." (Some countries use the SECAM format, which shares the same scanning format with PAL, so discs are the same for both systems.) The differences between NTSC and PAL DVDs lie in their picture dimensions and pixel aspect ratio (720x480 NTSC vs. 720x576 PAL), display frame rate (25 frames per second NTSC vs. 29.97fps PAL), and surround audio options (Dolby Digital NTSC vs. MPEG audio for PAL). Over 95% of DVD players worldwide can play NTSC discs (with Dolby Digital audio), although the quality of video conversion varies. However, PAL discs will not work on most NTSC players. Some PCs can output converted video as a video signal for a TV, but other PCs can only display converted video on the computer monitor.

Try to test your title on a range of equipment, including earlier generation devices that may not be as broadly compatible as current generation equipment. Filmmakers wishing maximum compatibility may want to opt for DVD replication rather than duplication, to avoid using regional encoding, and to create MPEG video with the NTSC standard. Due to the multiple formats involved with compression, test as many playback platforms as possible. Once you determine your media, regional encoding, and video format, it is important to state these specifications on your package labeling.

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How can I author my DVD?
There are many products that enable the producer to author his or her own DVD, including Apple's DVD Studio Pro for Mac and Sony Vegas for PC; there are other fine ones from Apple (including iDVD), Pinnacle Impression DVD-Pro), Sonic (DVDit!) and Avid (XPress DV). Even entry level digital video editing tools often include sophisticated video transitions, audio effects, titling capabilities, and a variety of video output formats. Higher-end tools for broadcast production or professional DVD creation cost thousands rather than hundreds of dollars. Since competition is fierce in this segment of the software industry, it is important to keep up to date on new products and developments and to read software reviews such as those at sites such as Digital Producer ( and Digital Video magazine (

Considering the time it takes to shoot and edit a film, it may not be worth your while to spend several additional weeks on the encoding, authoring, and formatting. The premastering, creation of a suitable interface, testing and review can take hundreds of hours of preparation time, not including self-education and trial-and-error. If your project includes complex elements, it may be worthwhile to consult with someone more experienced, particularly if you are producing your first DVD. Multimedia specialists such as those at Freedom Disc can turn your video presentations into an interactive DVD with customized menu options and user-friendly navigation, and they can help you add the following elements to your DVD:

• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio encoding
• Widescreen video encoding
• Engaging Interfaces (such as full-motion, interactive menus; direct-access navigation to chapters and tracks; hidden "Easter Egg" features; and links to your website and online sales tools)
• Copyright protection systems
• Regional encoding
• Multiple audio tracks
• Commentary tracks

If you have any questions about the authoring process, or for pricing, call Freedom Disc’ help line at 1-724-745-7646

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What is the difference between DVD replication and DVD duplication?
Replicated discs such as DVD-5, DVD-9, DVD-10, and DVD-18, which are sometimes called "pressed" discs, begin with a process called glass mastering. During glass mastering, a stamper containing the data is created, which is then used to injection-mold the discs. These “pressed” discs have their data encoded as a series of microscopic indentations molded directly into the disc surface. The resulting disc is only half of a finished DVD and is half as thick as a normal disc. The process is then repeated to make the other half of the disc. The two disc halves are then metallized, usually with aluminum, which gives the discs their silver color. The process is completed when the two halves are bonded together to create one complete DVD. Artwork is silk-screened onto the disc after manufacturing. The replication process takes place in a manufacturing facility and is how all retail-ready products are produced. Replicated discs have virtually 100% compatibility with DVD playback devices. Recordable DVDs (DVD-R and DVD+R) differ from replicated DVDs in that their data is not stored as actual indentations, but as laser marks made by burning tiny holes in the dye layer of the DVD-R media. DVDs created this way are called “duplicated” as opposed to “replicated” discs.

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Should I get replication or duplication?
In general, it is more cost-effective to duplicate DVDs onto recordable media for runs under 300 units, and to replicate them onto DVD-5's or DVD-9's (like most commercial DVD releases) if printing more than 300. However, there are other advantages and disadvantages of each method of production:

Advantages and drawbacks of DVD Replication:
• Greatest consistency of production; the manufacturer goes from the glass master, replicated from your supplied master. Also offers most consistency of playability from player to player.
• Most cost-effective over a few hundred units
• More packaging options become cost-effective, such as DVDigipaks and Amaray-style cases with shrinkwrap and barcoding, which widens possibilities of retail distribution for your product
• More options for larger capacity; a DVD-9 can hold as much data as two DVD-Rs
• Small runs (under around 500 units) are less cost-effective due to set-up costs.
• Replication runs under 1000 take slightly longer to produce than duplication, although some manufacturers such as Freedom Disc have the capability of providing fast service.

Advantages and drawbacks of DVD-R Duplication:
• Professional-looking graphic design and printing are available even in short runs.
• More cost-effective below 300 pieces, all the way down to 10 pieces.
• Extremely fast turnaround times for short runs, which can be done in-house with affordable DVD±R duplication systems like the Freedom Disc Elite.
• Depending on the quality of the blank media, this process results in slightly less consistency of playability from player to player.
• Compatibility: Currently about 90% of standalone players can handle DVD-Rs or DVD+Rs, and this number is increasing.
• Not as robust as a pressed and screen-printed DVD and is more susceptible to damage from handling and environmental contaminants.
• Becomes less cost-effective at runs over 300 units.

One compromise might be to do some of each – duplicate a small quantity for quick-turn needs such as promotion or testing, and replicate the rest as a commercial run. Freedom Disc offers both replicated and duplicated DVDs, and your product specialist will be happy to advise you on the proper format for your needs. Another option is to purchase a DVD±R duplicator to handle your short-run duplication needs in-house quickly, and then send your large runs out to a replicator. Call us at 1-724-745-7646

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Should I get copy protection for my DVD?
This decision depends on the intended end-use of the disc. CPSA (content protection system architecture) is the name given to the overall framework for security and access control across the entire DVD family. These include analog systems such as Macrovision, "serial" copy protection (CGMS), and Content Scrambling System (CSS). None of these copy-protection schemes will stop well-equipped pirates, and including them will add to the cost of replication. In addition, many DVD manufacturing plants require you to supply a DLT master in order to provide you with CSS or region coding.

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What is the proper format to submit subtitles?
We accept subtitle files that conform to either of these formats:
• STL: The Spruce Technologies subtitle format
• SON: The Sonic Solutions bitmap-based format

Submission requirements:
Source tapes must be non-drop frame and the program timecode must match the timecode in the subtitle file(s). Source timecode must begin at 00:00:00:00. This is different from our normal tape setup requirements, but to ensure proper subtitle importing, source video submitted for projects with subtitles must start at 00:00:00:00. Files submitted incorrectly may result in additional charges.

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What is Redion Coding?

"Region coded" DVDs are designated to only play in a particular part of the world. For example, Hollywood studios regularly release titles at different times in the US, Europe and Asia markets and use region coding to attempt to prevent viewers from buying titles early from other areas.
As with copy protection, region coding can be defeated. There are DVD players and devices which don't respect the region coding on DVDs and will play any disc despite its region code.Please contact us for details on how to properly master your own DVD for region coding

As with television, there are two predominant worldwide formats for DVD-Video: NTSC and PAL. NTSC is used in the US, Canada, and parts of Asia. PAL is used in Europe and other parts of Asia. NTSC has a somewhat lower-resolution image with a higher frame-rate (30 fps). PAL has a higher resolution image, better color fidelity, and a lower frame rate (25 fps).

Almost all new PAL DVD players are compatible with NTSC DVDs, so it is fairly common to sell titles worldwide in this format. Most NTSC players do not play PAL titles, so it is hard to watch a European video in the US, for example.



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