• DVD Burning and Ripping: A Primer, A Glossary



    Burning and ripping: the two terms have become nearly synonymous in the DVD copy vernacular, but they are separate and each performs a different function. Ripping is defined as the literal action of transferring the data from one format (say, a DVD) directly to your hard drive or some other drive. Burning, then, is the transference of data from the hard drive to a writeable format – DVD-R, iPod, etc.

    All software reviewed on this DVD burning software site contains the technology that makes it possible to both rip and burn data to the platform of your choosing. Platforms differ from program to program, but that is why we include a side-by-side chart detailing the minutiae of each piece of software – so you can take into account your hardware and memory availability and find exactly what you need. Many of these are also available via download, so you can get started in the short amount of time it takes to pay for the service and download it to your machine.

    If you’re new to the whole burning and ripping experience, we’ve included a primer on disc formats as well as a concise glossary to familiarize yourself with the terms you might encounter along the way. 

    DVD Formats and Sizes (capacities)

    DVDs are made in several different physical formats and sizes. The format usually used for movie releases is known as a DVD-ROM (ROM = Read Only Memory) which refers to the fact that data can only be read, not written. Modifications to this basic technology make recordable DVDs possible:

    • DVD-ROM: ROM stands for ‘Read Only Memory’, which is typically stamped in a DVD press, as opposed to burnt, and can only be read. Mass-produced DVDs are all created on DVD-ROM disks.
    • DVD±R means ‘Recordable’ and can usually be written to just once in a long, continuous write in a DVD burner.
    • DVD±RW: Re-Writable, which are disks that are rated to be burned up to 100 times;
    • DVD-RAM: Random Access Memory, which can be used almost like a portable hard disk, with any one spot on the disk surface rated to be written to up to 100,000 times.

    There are a number of additional formats with slight variations from these main types. The old Compact Disc (CD) format originally boasted (an unheard-of) 640 MB of storage space and was later upgraded to 700MB as the technology evolved.

    DVDs are manufactured with a number of different storage amounts beginning with 4.37GB, differentiated by a numerical suffix that roughly translates into the data capacity of each:

    • DVD-5, 1 side, 1 data layer per side, 4,700,000,000 byte capacity
    • DVD-9, 1 side, 2 data layers per side, 8,540,000,000 byte capacity
    • DVD-10, 2 sides, 1-1 data layers per side, 9,400,000,000 byte capacity
    • DVD-14, 2 sides, 1-2 data layers per side, 13,240,000,000 byte capacity
    • DVD-18, 2 sides, 2-2 data layers per side, 17,080,000,000 byte capacity

    Almost every movie DVD-ROM is a DVD-9, and the countless majorities of blank DVD±Rs are DVD-5s.

    Burning and Ripping Glossary

    • Authoring – authoring is the process of creating your own movie – your own DVD video that can be played on a DVD player.
    • Bitrate – bitrate is the word used to describe the size and time of a video or audio stream. Computer applications usually express this size in kb (kilobit) or Mb (Megabit). 1 kb = 1024 bits and 1 Mb = 1024 kilobits. A lower-case b is always used to denote bits and a capital B stands for Bytes.
    • Blu-ray – Blu-ray, often misspelled as Blue Ray, is the name of the most advanced optical disc format (designed by Sony) that features more than five times the storage capacity of DVDs. One Blu-ray disc can hold up to 25GB on a single layer. Blu comes from the fact that a blue-colored laser is used to read and write the data.
    • Burn – burn refers to the act of ‘burning’ data from a hard drive onto a disc or other platform.
      Compression – data compression is the process of encoding information using fewer bits and is useful for reducing the space used on a hard drive or bandwidth, for example. There is often some quality lost to compression, but not always.
    • CSS – stands for Content Scramble System and is the main way movie studios attempt to protect their DVDs from being copied.
    • DVD-R – a DVD recordable format that has the storage capacity of 4.71 GB.
    • DVD+R – a write-once DVD format with 4.7 GB of space.
    • DVD-RAM – Random Access Memory can be used in much the same was as a portable hard disk, with any one spot on the disk surface rated to be written to up to 100,000 times.
    • DVD-ROM – Read Only Memory discs are typically stamped in a DVD press, as opposed to burnt, and can only be read. Mass-produced DVDs are all created on DVD-ROM disks.
    • DVD-Video – this is a consumer video format used to store digital video on DVDs and is currently the main format being used by consumers in Canada, Europe and Australia.
    • Encode – to encode something is to transform or convert from one format to another, for example iPod to DVD.
      Formatting – formatting refers to the process of prepping a disk drive or other medium of storage to receive a transfer of data, in this case an optical disc such as DVD or Blu-ray.
    • FPS – stand for frames per second and can be found as the standard term in any authoring or editing program for referring to the frame rate.
    • Frame rate –measures the frequency at which an imaging device (camera, digital video recorder) produces the consecutive images called frames.
    • GOP – not the Republican party, in digital media this stands for Group of Pictures and refers to a group of successive pictures within a video stream coded for MPEG.
    • Horizontal resolution – defined as the highest amount of vertical lines in black and white that can be viewed by the human eye in any video platform. The higher the resolution, the better the video detail. The DVD format offers more than 500 lines. VHS is mired to around 240 lines.
    • JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group – the acronym stands for the group that came up with the now-standard for the compression of still image files.
    • KB – KiloByte.
    • Kbps – kilobits per second.
    • Layer – DVDs and Blu-ray discs are manufactured with several different layers of information available. See bullet list above.
    • MPEG – Moving Pictures Experts Group – this is the group that create standards for digital video and the compression of audio files under the auspices of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
    • Random access – in data files, the ability to directly access information as opposed to being limited to sequential access. Think a cassette tape versus a CD.
    • Rip – the process of transferring data, say a DVD movie, from the disc to your hard drive.


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