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Site Help IconMore Site Help coming soon but for now we hope you will find some helpful information in our Glossary of Terms.
For information on DVD Regions visit our Region Infomation page.


  1. Audio Related Information
  2. Video Related Information
  3. Product Related Information

1. Audio Related Information:


AC-3 Icon AC-3:
Dolby Digital (5.1) and AC-3 are different terminology for the same audio technology, which is the 6 channel sound system developed by Dolby Laboratories.

Dolby Digital Icon Dolby Digital:
An advanced compression method that allows from 1 up to 6 channels of sound to be to be recorded. This is the standard sound format that is required on DVD, and it will also be used in future HDTV broadcasts. DD variants are represented by a number with a decimal point, the first digit gives the number of full bandwidth channels, the second digit the number of subwoofer channels. 1.0 is mono, 2.0 is stereo, and 5.1 is 5-channel with a subwoofer. A 2.0 mix can contain information that can be retrieved by a Dolby Prologic decoder, deriving signals to send to front, centre, right and surround speakers. Audio equipment with a Dolby Digital decoder is required to translate the sound track into multi-channel sound, although all DVD players will downmix the signal into two-channel surround if you don't have the DD equipment. If the DVD player has a decoder built in then the player can be connected directly to a power amplifier, if not, the decoder must be part of the amplifier/receiver, or present as a stand-alone unit. For more information, pleaser refer to the individual audio formats below.

Dolby Digital 1.0 Icon Dolby Digital Mono
This program features a mono soundtrack encoded to AC-3 bitstream. When played through Dolby Digital equipment, sound will be heard from the center channel speaker only. If no center channel is available, both the left and right front speakers will play the same monophonic sound.

Dolby Digital 2.0 Icon Dolby Digital Stereo
This program features a stereo soundtrack encoded to AC-3 bitstream. When played through Dolby Digital equipment, sound will be heard from the front left and front right speakers only.

Dolby Digital Surround Icon Dolby Digital Surround
This program features a matrixed surround soundtrack encoded to an AC-3 bitstream. When played through Dolby Digital equipment, sound will be heard from all five system speakers. The surround information will be monophonic.

Dolby Digital 4.0 Icon Dolby Digital 4.0
This program features a discrete four channel soundtrack encoded to an AC-3 bitstream. When played through Dolby Digital equipment, sound will be heard from all five system speakers. The surround information will be discrete monophonic.

Dolby Digital 5.0 Icon Dolby Digital 5.0
This program features a discrete five channel soundtrack encoded to an AC-3 bitstream. When played through Dolby Digital equipment, discrete sound will be heard from all five system speakers.

Dolby Digital 5.1 Icon Dolby Digital 5.1
This program features a discrete 5.1 (5 speakers + subwoofer) channel soundtrack encoded to an AC-3 bitstream. When played through Dolby Digital equipment, discrete sound will be heard from all five system speakers and the subwoofer.

Dolby Digital 6.1 Icon Dolby Digital Surround 6.1 EX
Co-developped by LucasFilms (THX and Dolby Laboratories),Dolby Digital Extended is a multi-channel audio format that takes a 5.1 soundtrack encoded to an AC-3 bitstream and adds a central rear channel to give a 360 degree sound impression. This additional channel is a simple matrix, which makes this technology compatible with existing players.

Digital Theater Systems is a competing multi-channel audio format that also encodes 1 to 6 channels of sound for playback on equipment that has a DTS decoder. Common in movie theaters, on laserdisc, and on compact disc. A DTS-compatible DVD player will be required for playback of the DTS signal, and only recent DVD player models have this capability. Theoretically, as DTS uses less compression than Dolby Digital and has lower bass extension, it is superior to Dolby Digital.

DTS-ES 6.1 Icon DTS-ES 6.1
There are 2 variations of DTS' 6.1 Extended Surround technology. DTS-ES Matrix 6.1 hides the center back channel information in the rear left and right surround channels using a process very similar to Dolby ProLogic. Simple matrix decoding is all you need to reproduce this channel. DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 carries the center back channel information in its own discrete digital track. More sophisticated digital processing is needed to work here. The process works the same on DTS-ES 6.1-encoded audio CDs. A special digital flag on the DVD or CD informs DTS-ES gear of the extra information, initiating the correct processing. Current DTS processors ignore the new information and play back DTS-ES (Matrix or Discrete) 6.1-encoded discs as if they were 5.1 discs.

One of the four sound standards supported by DVD-Video (others are Dolby Digital, DTS and PCM). MPEG supports stereo and surround sound. MPEG-Audio was developed by Philips for Digital TV and DVD and is only used in Europe. After the inital launch very few titles use MPEG audio. Most titles already have a Dolby Digital or DTS soundtrack from the cinema so this is used in preference.

One of four sound formats supported by DVD-Video (others are Dolby Digital, DTS and MPEG-Audio). PCM (pulse code modulation) is the same format as used on music CDs and only supports Mono or Stereo soundtracks. When played, discretestereo sound will be heard from the front right and front left speakers. All DVD players support PCM.

A set of quality-control standards pioneered by LucasFilm. Encompassing theatrical presentation, home playback, and video mastering, THX Certification means many different things. Home theater components with THX certification, for example, are tuned in such a manner to compensate for differences between theatrical and home playback.

THX 6.1 Icon THX-EX 6.1
Redirects bass energy in the Surround back channels to the subwoofer, ensuring optimum bass performance in the home theatre environment. Requires Re-Equalization[tm] of the Surround back channels to match characteristics of the front and left/right surround channels. Synchronizes the Surround Back Left and Surround Back Right speakers in time and position relative to the listener, providing a seamless surround sound experience. Preserves the original sound perspective in soundtracks from older films with mono surround channels by automatically re-directing the surround signal to both Surround Left and Surround Right rather than to the Surround back speakers only, an error possible with non-THX certified products.


Center speaker:
The speaker in a surround sound system which handles dialogue and centrally positioned music and sound effects.

Surround speakers:
Used in a Prologic, Dolby Digital or other surround system. In a Prologic system there is typically 5 speakers; centre, front left, front right, and rear left and right carrying the same mono signal. In a Dolby Digital/DTS system the rear speakers carry a stereo signal, and there is usually an additional subwoofer. It is also possible to add additional subwoofers, dipole rear speakers and so on.

A speaker designed to reproduce bass (low frequencies). Bass is not very directional, so most home cinema systems only need one mono bass channel.

Low Frequency Effects; name given to the dedicated subwoofer channel in Dolby Digital and DTS audio formats.

Dynamic Range:
The range between the loudest and quietest parts of an audio signal. TV sound is not very dynamic, with dialogue usually almost at the peak level of the signal. With film sound on DVD there is an large amount of headroom available for sounds louder that dialogue up to 24dB. This is why the output level of a DVD player tends to be set low compared to that of a VCR.

Lip Sync (Audio Synchronisation):
Audio and video being visibly out of step during DVD playback. Lip-sync is usually caused by poor disc authoring or DVD player firmware problems. This can often be fixed by firmware updates.

Optical Digital:
DVD players without built-in Dolby Digital or DTS decoding must use a digital output to an external Dolby Digital/DTS processor/amplifier. There are two types of digital output; Optical, which uses a fibre-optic cable, and Coaxial, which uses a conventional wire cable.

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2. Video Related Information:

Anamorphic (Enhanced) Widescreen:
DVD films that have extra lines of vertical resolution added to increase the video quality when played back on widescreen televisions (16:9), there is no increase in picture quality when playback is on a standard 4:3 television.

Aspect Ratio:
The width to height ratio of a video image, the 3 main standards are; 4:3 (standard broadcast TV ratio), 16:9 (1.85:1) and 2.35:1 (standard cinema ration).

Component Video (YPbPr or YCbCr):
Component video is a high quality video signal usually supported by good DVD players, and high-end televisions and projection monitors. It is usually carried via 3 RCA leads colour coded as red, green and blue. Component Video is generally seen as a U.S. and Japanese standard. DVD video is stored as a component video signal in digital form on the DVD disc. Since this is the native video format that is stored on the DVD disc, this is also the best format to use to display the picture. Component video is stored as 3 separate components; the Y signal contains the full bandwidth black and white picture information, while the Pb and Pr signals are colour difference signals. Component Video and RGB are similar but not compatible. The advantage of Component Video over RGB is generally seen as the lower bandwidth required for Component, and the separate black and white signal.

Composite Video:
Composite video is a lower quality video signal usually carried by a cable with RCA connectors, which are colour coded yellow. Composite video is a single video signal that is a composite of the black and white (Y) and the colour information (C). This is the most common type of video connection.

4:3 Fullscreen Icon Fullscreen:
A term used when the picture aspect ratio is 4:3 the shape of regular television.

Macrovision is a copy protection system designed to prevent the copying of films onto videotape. Most movies released onto DVD are encoded with Macrovision protection. Macrovision can generally be seen as a lightening and darkening of the video picture during play. Macrovision will be visible if the DVD player is piggybacked through a VCR, and also some projection monitors have a decrease in video quality if Macrovision is present, even if the video signal is not passing first through a VCR. Macrovision operates by interfering with the operation of the AGC (Automatic Gain Control) used on VCR machines.

Moving Picture Experts Group. The second set of flexible compression standards created by this group is called MPEG2. This set of standards takes advantage of the fact that over 95% of digital video is redundant, however some portions are much less redundant. MPEG-2 handles this by using higher bit rates for more complex pictures and lower bit rates for simple pictures. Without MPEG2 only about 4 or 5 minutes (depending on quality) of video would fit on a 4.7GB DVD.

From National Television Standards Committee, the 525-line American and Japanese video standard. US NTSC works at 60 fields per second, and has the colour subcarrier at 3.58MHz. Some PAL televisions only replay NTSC with a subcarrier at 4.43MHz.

The video system used in Europe, PAL was designed as an improvement to the earlier NTSC system from America. Some of the picture frequency was sacrificed to improve the resolution and the colour reproduction. PAL runs at 25 frames per second and has 576 horizontal lines.

A video signal running at 60 fields per second, but with PAL colour information (normal PAL is 50). PAL60 is mostly used when replaying NTSC DVD titles, and almost all televisions made in the last 10 years should be compatible. The image quality a DVD viewed in PAL60 is the same as that of a DVD viewed in full NTSC.

Pan & Scan:
When a film has a wide aspect ratio (as they almost all do) and a fullscreen transfer (4:3) is made, the only option is to select a portion of the image judged to be of the greatest important and remove the edges. The Telecine machine can be programmed to select the best part of each frame, which may involve moving the scan area or on shot.

The trademark usually used to indicate an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Films shot using Panavision cameras and lenses are not necessarily shot in the Anamorphic Panavision format.

The resolution of a format is measured in the number of vertical lines that can be resolved. This is measured using a signal comprising of alternate black and white lines, gradually increasing the number of lines. At some point these lines become blurred into grey. VHS has a resolution of approx 250 lines, LaserDisc 400 lines and DVD 500 lines. The number of horizontal lines is fixed by the video format (either PAL or NTSC).

RGB Video:
RGB is a high quality video signal supported by few DVD players, high-end televisions and projection monitors in Australia. It is usually carried via a SCART universal connector. RGB is generally seen as a European standard.

The standard European AV connector/socket for TVs, VCRs, and DVD players.

S-Video (Y/C):
S-video is supported by all DVD players, and is carried by a cable with DIN connectors. S-video is a down conversion of a Component Video signal, the black and white Component signal is kept separate (Y), and the 2 Component colour signals are mixed (C) to give to the 2 separate signals. S-video does result in a small degradation of the colour information in the video signal, but still gives excellent video quality. Mixing the Y and C of the S-video signal gives a Composite Video signal.

16:9 Widescreen Icon Widescreen:
A term used when the picture aspect ratio is 16:9 the shape of regular widescreen television.

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3. Product Related Information:

Closed Captions (CC):
A signal embedded in a video waveform, which, when fed into a captioning decoder, can product subtitles for the hearing impaired on screen.

A DVD film can be divided into different chapters, much like a book. This permits easier navigation through a movie.

Criterion Special Edition:
Criterion are a publishing house that specialise in doing definitive versions of films on DVD. A Criterion Edition of a film usually has deleted scenes, commentaries and film to storyboard comparisons. Although they have produced disks for a number of obscure films, they are always top quality and give a film-buff's makeover of films, generally giving the punter what they really want. If one of your favourite films is available as a Criterion Edition, spend the extra cash, because you know you're money is not going to be wasted. Their website is

Digital Versatile Disc (DVD):
The next generation of digital discs. A DVD uses similar methods to and looks like an ordinary CD. Hence DVD can be used for the same tasks as a CD e.g. DVD-Rom, DVD-Audio and DVD-Video. DVDs have a much greater capacity than CDs (a CD has a capacity of 640Mb, a DVD has a maximum theoretical capacity of 18 Gb = 18000 Mb). This greater capacity means entire movies can be put onto a single disc using MPEG-II compression. DVD uses several technical tricks to further improve performance namely dual layering, multiple data streams and variable bit-rate . Each DVD disc also has a menu system allowing the user to choose the disc options, view any scene or look at the supplied extras.

DVD Audio:
A high specification digital audio format. Current DVD players cannot play the high quality audio of DVD-Audio discs.

A CD has one layer of data. A DVD has a higher capacity than a CD but can also have two sides and each side can have two or more layers of data. Each layer is semi transparent, so the laser can focus beyond the first layer to read the layers below. A single sided-single layer DVD (SS-SL) can store over 2 hours of video. A double sided-dual layer DVD (DS-DL) could store over 8 hours of video. Here are some of the formats that may be found on the market today:

-- Single Sided - Single Layer - (DVD-5) - 4.7 GB
-- Single Sided - Dual Layer - (DVD-9) - 8.5 GB
-- Double Sided - Single Layer - (DVD-10) - 9.4 GB
-- Double Sided - Dual Layer - (DVD-18) - 17.0 GB

Multiple Data Streams:
A DVD player reads several streams of data simultaneously e.g. Video, soundtrack, subtitles. Each data stream has an identifying code so the player knows how to process it. Many discs can have several soundtracks and subtitles. Some discs even have simultaneous multiple camera angles (though usually not films). All the data streams are read simultaneously meaning the viewer can switch between soundtracks at the press of a button.

There are four types of case's in which a DVD can be kept in: keep case (normal time DVD box), snap case (Cardbord and plastice DVD box), jewel case (CD style DVD Case) and custom case (like a special box set).

Regional Coding:
A method that restricts DVD playback by geographic region. The world has been divided into 6 regions to maintain control of distribution and revenue. For example, DVD discs and DVD players sold in the United States and Canada are usually coded for Region 1. A Region 2 disc from Japan will not play on a Region 1 player, unless that player has been specially modified to do so.

Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE):
RCE is an enhancement that some studios (Warner and Columbia mostly) have added to your disks to stop region 1 (R1) DVDs from playing on Region-free DVD players. Up to date, RCE does not affect Multi-region players, and there are some workarounds for Region-free players, but it all depends on the make and model of your code-free DVD player.

Release Year:
Year in which a movie is released in theaters. A DVD release date in when a DVD movie is sold on the market.

Reverse Spiral Dual Layer (RSDL):
Reverse Spiral Dual Layer is a technique by which a movie is split across two layers of a single disc and is joined together for continuous playback. Allows longer movies (or movies with extra content) to be shown uninterrupted on a single side of a disc.

Run Time:
Amount of minutes contained in a movie.

Super Audio CD (SACD):
New audio recording format aimed at providing high-fidelity audio reproduction. Whereas CDs use a process calls Pulse Code Modulation (PCM), which is reputed to sacrifice subtleties of music, SACDs use Direct Stream Digital(TM) process, which records a 1-bit signal at 2,822,400 samples per second. At the optical level, SACDs are essentially DVD format.

Universal Media Disc (UMD):
Optical media disc developped by Sony for use on the Playstation Portable (PSP). The UMD can hold up to 1,8 gigabytes of information, which can range from games, music and even movies.

Variable Bit Rate:
A CD reads data at a constant rate. A DVD can read data at a variable rate. When the picture is very still, the video data can be compressed more so the bit rate is lower. This then allows a higher bit rate to be used for sequences of greater movement.

Video CD (VCD):
A digital video disc format using MPEG1 encoding, normally playable on DVD players. Its VHS quality picture and limited shortage capacity prevented it from ever becoming fully caught on.

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Last Updated: Friday, 5th February 2016