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What exactly is a DVD – and what are the basic facts about the process for transferring video tapes to DVD? Well, "DVD" is the abbreviation for Digital Versatile Disc. It is an optical data storage format. A DVD is the same size as a CD, but can hold much more data – up to 4.37 GB. For this reason, DVD is frequently used to back up information from computers.

However, the primary capability of DVD is to deliver extremely high-quality video. The video encoding format used on every home movies transfer is MPEG-2, a compressed format that works by removing redundant information from the raw video stream (such as sections of a picture that don't change).

Record video to DVD - the details

Record video to DVD

Every DVD video transfer is compressed at a specific bit rate, which determines the quality – similar to the EP and SP modes on a VCR. The higher the bit rate, the higher the video quality, up to a maximum of 9.8 Mbps. A video cassette transfer encoded above 6 Mbps will be indistinguishable from the original tape after DVD video conversion.

Bit rates can be encoded at CBR (constant bit rate) or VBR (variable bit rate). When VBR is used, high-motion segments are encoded at a higher bitrate and low-motion segments are encoded at a lower bitrate. VBR allows the maximum of quality to be applied to each section of video, providing the best quality throughout. (Timeless DVD only uses VBR video encoding when we convert video.)

Dolby Digital audio is the most widely-used format for encoding the audio on a DVD. Dolby Digital delivers great sound and and compresses raw audio very well, efficiently using the space on the DVD disc. By compressing audio with Dolby Digital, a higher-quality encode can be provided for the video.

DVD has had the fastest adoption rate of any consumer format in history, and replaced the VHS video tape nearly 10 years ago. See our Video Transfer to DVD page for more information about DVD conversions.

DVD video transfer - how it works

A DVD is simple to operate. Just insert your DVD disc in your DVD player. The Main Menu will appear and you will see the word "Play". Hit "play" or "enter" on your remote control to watch the video.

If you have a Scene Selections menu on your DVD, two options will be on the Main Menu: "Play" and "Scene Selections." To view your scenes, use the arrows on your remote control to select the "Scene Selections" button and hit "enter." Your Scene Selections menu will appear, and you may select the chapter you wish to view by navigating to it and selecting "enter."

While watching your video, you can hit the "backward" or "forward" buttons on your DVD remote to skip from chapter stop to chapter stop. Hit "Menu" on your remote whenever you want to go back to the Main Menu.

Video tapes to DVD lasts forever

DVDs are expected to last for about 100 years, and in that time, they will never lose any of their picture quality or audio clarity. However, this is only a scientific guess, since DVDs have not been around for 100 years!

Longevity depends on many factors. Some dye formulations in different brands of discs are more stable and last longer. This is one reason why Timeless DVD only uses the highest-quality media when we transfer home video to DVD. Realistically, short-run DVD-R and DVD+R discs can last anywhere from 20 to 100 years.

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