Summary of DVD playback problems: sound right?

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    • #40951

      I use a Primera Bravo II robotic duplicator, and have made over 1000 DVD’s for a woodworking organization. I am writing an article for the newsletter that explains why a few people can’t play their DVD’s. So I would love feedback, and maybe this summary of theories and facts will be helpful to others.

      I am very aware that a few members have been having trouble playing the Guilds DVDs, and I have been doing quite a bit of research online. None of the answers I have gotten are absolutely definitive, but this is a widespread and much discussed problem for DVD’s that are duplicated with burners. So here is my summary of what is going on:

      Most importantly, there is a difference between a “duplicated” DVD and a “replicated” DVD. Dupicated means that it is made using a burner, which employs a laser to burn tiny pits into the surface. Replicated means it is made using a “glass master” which is then pressed into the plastic to create the tiny pits. The pits are how the data is recorded into the plastic. Both methods create the same number of pits, but the burners create shallower pits. And therein lies the problem. The shallower pits are not easily read by some DVD players, especially older ones. I have heard various figures, but maybe 5% of players are affected. The new and very cheap $30 players seem to work fine.

      A second related issue is that the shallower pits are more easily damaged. A scratch or scuff or some dirt may interfere with the way the data is read. DVD’s that are pressed from glass masters are not so easily damaged. Maybe they are even made of a different, harder material, I don’t know if that is true. Anyway, it may be that some of the problems that members are having is due to damaged disks. It is hard to be sure about this without having easy access to a disk which someone has had trouble playing. The one problematic disk that I had returned to me had some minor scratches and did not work on my own player.

      Ideally we would make our DVD copies using the glass master technique. The DVD’s of Hollywood movies that you rent or purchase are made this way. Unfortunately, replication is only done in batches of 300-1000, by large commercial operations. That is obviously unfeasible for the Guild, where we typically make 10-20 copies of each DVD.

      A third problem may be the recording speed that I use for burning disks. I have a seen several reports that the frequency of problem disks can be reduced by using burn speeds no greater than 4x, even when the media is theoretically capable of higher burn speeds. When I buy blank disks, they are rated 4x, 8x, or 16x. Our robotic duplicator is supposedly capable of 16x, but since I learned about this possible issue, I have restricted burn speeds to 4x. Unfortunately, almost all of the duplicating I have done for the Guild was done at higher speeds.

      Finally, the quallity of the blank disks can be to blame. There are many brands out there, and within brands, there are the different speed ratings. I am currently using only Ritek 4x disks for both Guild demos and my own video projects, and I have the impression that I am getting a lot fewer complaints, approaching zero. Early on in my Guild transfer and duplication project, I used some higher-speed rated disks, and one batch from a different manufacturer, and I am pretty sure that many of the problematic disks came from these batches.

      Incidentally, it seems to be frequently true that disks that won’t work in DVD players can be played in computers that will play DVD’s. I have no idea why that is true, but for those who have both devices, it may be a barely satisfying solution.

      So, I am hopeful that some of the changes that I have instituted will greatly reduce the incidence of disks that can not be read in DVD players. And I am also disappointed to have to report that there may always be a small number of situations where our members will borrow a DVD and find themselves unable to view it. Even if we achieve a 99% success rate, I am aware that that 1% failure is significant and vexing. I will continue to learn as much as I can about this whole subject, and it may even be that some of the information I have related is not accurate, so I would be glad to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable.

    • #174705

      You have not stated if these are single, duel or double layer discs.
      Don’t forget the single layer disc come in + and – Formats. The format is difinative as to its ability to play in a DVD player.

      Yes, the age and brand of machine will effect the burnt DVD’s playability too.
      The cheaper brands (most recent units) coming from China seem to play anything. The older machines – say anything older than 2 years just don’t have the codecs to play the multiple formats. I aslo find that the lasers of some cheap units do not last as long as some of the bigger brand names.

      I find I can only play DVD+R DL and DVD-R in all of my stand alone DVD players. My sons machine (el cheapo) will play all formats

      Not all “replicated” discs work 100% either. We have two identical machines – same brand, same model and 10 digits difference in the serial number.
      We have a “replicated” DVD disc that will work in one machine, but not in the other – go figure.

      duplication technology is based on a chemical layer being “burnt”
      The production process requires the chemical dye to be spread evenly accross the disc. Manufacturing proccess is not always perfect and thick and thin areas in layer may form causeing either a “Coaster” when burnt, or efffect the laser from “reading” the information.

    • #174706

      Way back I had the very same thing going on. In fact a few years ago, I had a DVD set-top player that was less than a year old and when I was trying to play my disks it would error out. At this point I always thought I was doing something wrong. Finally I ran over to my neighbor’s house and tried playing it on his and it worked fine. In researching this more I discovered over the Inet that a lot of times it’s the make and model of the various set-top DVD players being the culprit. I wish I could remember the website. It actually listed and rated the players by brand and model number. So I looked my player up on this website and sure enough. It was rated BAD! I was so mad I tossed it out and bought a new one. Never had a problem since. Some just don’t like playing home burned DVDs. Like you I occasionally do projects that will require burning 50 or maybe 100 disks and then sell to clients/customers. For me I have the best success rate using either Verbaitum or Philips -R’s but here’s the clinker. I burn these @ 2X. That part sucks but I guess if that’s the combination of variables that works for me so be it. I just did 2 major projects (150 disks in all) and I have not had anyone call me up and complain about the disks not working.

      For the most part you addressed everything very well. What we are fighting with as producers are, different medias, different set-top players, different burners, different software, different burn speeds and so fourth. I guess you just need to find the right combination like I did and go with it. One of these days it will be a perfect world and everything will work like it is supposed too!


    • #174707

      OK, this is all great feedback, and basically confirms my understanding of the issues involved. I have revised the article to explain the dye/bleaching info, which even better explains why the disks are so easily damaged.

      I am wondering now about burn speed versus rated disk speed. If I ratchet back my burn speeds to 4x, or even 2x, that will help, and I have already been doing that for a month or so. So say I am burning at 4x… does it matter if I am using disks that are rated at 8x, or 16x. Or should I be matching this to my burn speed. Obviously slower disks are less expensive, but I do have 150 Ritek 8x disks on hand.

      thanks in advance, Peter

    • #174708

      Just becuase the disks say 4X, 8X or 16X doesn’t mean that you have to burn at that speed. That is just telling you the fastest burn speed that disk can burn at.

      This is kind of crude but think of it like this. If you read a 5 page report and lets say you did it in 2 minutes, then another person reads the same report and does it in 12 minutes. Who would be able to recite all of the details back the easiest and with accuracy? Probably the one that read the report slower. It’s more reliable going slower. Sure they say we should be able to burn faster and you can but we are fighting too may variables.

      Last one… This just happened to me about 6 months ago. I got a new DVD player for my new theater system. I was working on a DVD project and finally wanted to check it out on my new system. I put the disk in and the damn thing gave me the “Disk Error” treatment. I couldn’t believe it! My kid (who’s a hack) just for the heck of it told me to try a slower burn speed so I reburned the same project using the same software and disk type and wham! It worked! The only thing that I did different was went from 4X to 2X using Nero 6. Go figure! The only thing I can think of is that the laser burned better at a slower speed or something. Mind you that this happened in my case with the hardware and software I have. Everyone is different. That’s why I said you just have to come up with a realiable set-up based on your configurations and stay with it. I researched this until I was blue in the face. Everything I read said you will have better luck with disks playing on older players going with -Rs and don’t burn fast. As soon as the old stuff cycles through, this will hopefully change because I can’t stand burning at 2X. The other option is to tell everyone out there to buy new DVD players!


    • #174709

      Hey guys this great stuff getting all this feed back.
      I had the same problem with burn speed too. Slowed down to 2 times – even had a couple @ 1 times – a real bummer.

      The best way I can relate burn speeds to people is to relate it to a car.
      The car can go at 180 Kilometre an hour – ooopps most of you are not metric – lets’s say 100 miles and hour (disc speed) You the driver (program) can take in only so much information as you travel at that speed. You miss the pretty young blonde waving to you from the side of the road (data), but you still see the police car catching up to you. You slow down, you can see everything with greater clarity you see another pretty blonde and the police car passes you by cause your running at the right spped.

      Oh and by the way – even though the vast majority of people out there are using DVD’s for video production, they were primarialy developed for data (yes, I know video is data too, but it was program type data, and the speeds relate to data writing not video writing speeds

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