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Successful DVD Burning

Posted by Jon Geddes
11:20 am on May 14th, 2009

I’m sure many of you have experienced skipping or freezing on your burned discs at one point or another. Some of you may have attributed it to a dirty disc, poor quality media, or maybe a burner that is going bad. Some of those issues may have been the culprit, however, the most common cause of this problem is caused by burning your disc at too fast of a speed.

When DVD’s are burned, approximately 25% of the data is actually unneeded for the disc to read properly (due to multiple parity checks).  This allows for some errors to be burned to the disc without effecting playback. The problem is that drive speeds keep increasing without much reduction in the number of errors that occur from burning at a faster speed. The more errors that are burned to the disc, the more work you make for the dvd player to read the disc properly, by having it re-read sectors, or by guessing failed cyclic redundancy checks. Different players have different methods for buffering the data and seeking ahead to smooth out some of this extra work, however not all players are able to smoothly play over the errors, causing skipping or freezing during playback.

There are different rules that many people have adopted to avoid these errors. Some people set a max speed they won’t burn over, others burn at one speed slower than the maximum the burner supports, and some burn at half the speed the burner supports. Although using these rules may help prevent the errors from occurring, I have discovered, through testing, a different rule applies.

Through multiple tests, using different burners and different media, DVD+R and DVD-R discs should be burned no faster than 4X. Regardless of how fast your media claims to support, or how fast your drive supports, when burning faster than 4X, enough errors can appear on the disc to cause problems during playback. Not every single disc we burned at 8x and above exhibited problems, but many of them did. Every single disc burned at 4X and slower had no playback problems. Tests were done with TDK, Sony, and Verbatim media that supported 12x – 16x burn speeds, with Plextor burners that supported 16x burn speeds. Of course, if your drive or media only supports less than 4X, it is recommended to use the supported speed.

As for dual layer media, it’s a little different story. Due to dual layer discs having a more complicated technology, they are more susceptible to errors during the burn process. For DVD+R DL media, I recommend burning no faster than 2.4X regardless of how fast the media supports. Our tests while burning at 4X had freezing issues on some players during the layer break in addition to occasional glitches during playback. These issues completely disappeared when burned at the slower speed of 2.4X.

The type of media you use is also extremely important. Poor quality media  can also cause problems for you. You may think that because it’s produced by some big brand and has fancy packaging that it should work ok. Well you would be wrong. For single layer discs, Taiyo Yuden is well known for having the best quality media. This doesn’t mean all other brands are bad, as I have had great success with the printable media from Costco (was TDK, they recently switched to Sony I believe). You also can’t go wrong with Verbatim.

As for Dual Layer Media, I can recommend only Verbatim. I have heard nothing but problems from people who use other brands for dual-layer burns. While using Verbatim DVD+R DL media, and the correct burn speed, we have never had clients complain about playback issues.

This brings us to the last step of creating a burned disc that plays back correctly in almost every dvd player. Changing the Booktype. Based on statistics, changing the booktype of your disc will increase it’s compatibilty by approximately 10%, so that it’s compatible with roughly 98% of all dvd players. So just think about that. If you are burning DVD-R discs for clients right now, statistics show that 1 in 10 will have problems playing it back on their player. If you change the booktype of the disc, only 1 in 50 may experience problems. What the booktype setting does is tell the DVD Player what type of disc it is, whether its a +R, -R, +RW, -RW, etc. Some players are physically capable of reading burned media, however the manufacturer of the player didn’t add the coded support to the hardware.  When the player reads the book type field of the disc, it may not support -R or +R, and have issues playing the disc. When the booktype is changed to DVD-ROM, you avoid issues that occur from this problem. Now whats important to know is the booktype setting can only be modified on DVD+R discs. It is well known that DVD-R discs are more compatible than DVD+R discs on set-top dvd players (by approximately 10%), however by changing the booktype, your DVD+R discs will be much more compatible than the DVD-R discs.

Changing the booktype on your disc is often done with a software program that is separate from the program you use to burn your disc. For example, Plextor drives come with software called Plextools, which through it’s settings, allows you to force all DVD+R and DVD+R DL discs to be burned with the modified booktype. So even if you burn your disc in Adobe Encore, your disc will have the booktype modified. Once your disc is burned, the booktype cannot be changed. The program used for changing the booktype will be different depending on which drive you use for burning and the operating system you use (PC or MAC), since the programs need to communicate directly with the firmware on your drive. Some drives do not support changing the booktype. If your drive does not support this, it is recommended to use DVD-R media for the best compatibility (or get a new drive that does support it).

Using these guidelines, you can be sure to minimize issues with your discs, and have fewer clients come back to you complaining of problems with playback. To this day, with the hundreds of discs we have burned, both Single and Dual Layer, we have had ZERO clients complain of playback problems while using these guidelines.

Just remember the key points:

  • For Single Layer discs, burn no faster than 4X
  • For Dual Layer discs, burn no faster than 2.4X
  • Use Good Quality Media such as Taiyo Yuden or Verbatim
  • For Dual Layer Media, use only Verbatim DVD+R DL
  • Use DVD+R or DVD+R DL with Booktype Changed to DVD-ROM

5 Responses to “Successful DVD Burning”

  1. David_97 says:

    Interesting post. Thanks!

  2. Jon Geddes says:

    I thought I should add a little comment to this. It appears I have discovered a bug with sata plextor drives. Plextools does not recognize the drive properly if it is connected to a port running in RAID mode. On the motherboard I am using, if you want to use any hard drives in RAID, all the ports are run through the Intel Matrix RAID controller, which then causes the problem with Plextools. Plextools can then no longer communicate properly with the drive, and you are unable to modify the Booktype setting. However, this issue does not appear effect any program from burning to the drive.

  3. Sukhdeep says:

    Thanks Jon, very informative article. I am using ext. dvd burner for my iMac; does the type of dvd burner play any role in the quality of dvd? Is there any rule/recommendations while setting min bitrate as compare to target; as you recommended target vs. max is 1.5Mbps. So If my max bitrate is 8.5, target is 7 then what should I set for min in order to get high quality DVD?

  4. JosueLemus says:

    Im having a problem with one of my projects that i download it form this website, the quality is extremely Low, i tried the best setting with or without Best Render Quality and nothing..
    There is any advice for setting that i can use to improve the dvd quality ?

  5. Jon Geddes says:

    Hi Josue,

    Please follow our After Effects Rendering tutorial for best quality results. We have also sent you an email with further information.

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