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Old 01-10-04, 03:44 PM   #1
Manzana
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Single vs. dual layer DVDs - any databases with this info?

I'd like to know if the following DVDs are single or dual layer. I've searched various reviews, IMDB, and Amazon, and in each case I found insufficient or conflicting information:

DVD-5
-----
Another Stakeout, Barefoot in the Park, Big Jake, Brady Bunch Movie, Brannigan, The Comancheros, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Mister Roberts, Monkey Business (Cary Grant), Much Ado About Nothing (MGM), Rio Lobo, Sons of Katie Elder, Stakeout, Very Brady Sequel, Up Close & Personal, Witness (Harrison Ford)

DVD-9
-----
French Kiss, North to Alaska, The Undefeated

Is there any database on the Internet which contains this layer information and is more accurate than IMDB?

I think I've looked at every DVD review site linked to DVD-Basen, and I've found only 3 sites that regularly mention the disc's layer format: DVD File, DVD Angle, and Digitally Obsessed. When more than 1 of these sites review the same DVD, too often I find a discrepancy in the layer information (for example, both Brady Bunch movies) so I take what they say with a grain of salt unless all 3 agree.

Universal always lists the number of layers, which means I never have to ask about theirs. Warner DVDs typically say "Dual-layer format" on the back. Has anyone found an exception where a Warner DVD was DVD-9 and did not say "Dual-layer format" on the back of the case?

Finally, to save people from discussing why I care about this info, suffice it to say I have a thing against single layer transfers with bit rates averaging under 5 Mbps even if the transfer looks OK. In my opinion, if studios are going to release a barebones disc they should at least use a very high bit rate on DVD-9 to give better image quality unless it's meant to be a budget disc (available for under $10 in stores). Sadly I see too many $20-$30 MSRP discs that are barebones DVD-5. Sometimes I've seen DVD-9s that barely use any additional space which are almost as bad. On rare occasion I've found barebones DVDs that use almost all of the available DVD-9 space for the movie (such as Quiz Show), and those don't bother me as much as barebones DVD-5. My rule is unless I can find several consistent reviews praising the transfer, I steer away from DVD-5s. Thanks.

Last edited by Manzana; 01-10-04 at 04:00 PM.
 
Old 01-10-04, 04:40 PM   #2
speedy1961
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DVD-5's should be a no to Dual layer.

DVD-9's should be a yes to Dual layer.

It should state (but sometimes doesn't) the # of layers on the back of the DVD.

DVD-5's hold 4.37 GB of date which translates to just over 2 hours of video

DVD-9's hold 7.95 GB of data which translates to about 4 hours of data.

The layer switch is generally (but not always) around the 60 minute mark.

Widescreen Review magazine used to list the # of layers in their magazine and may do so on their website.

I'm not sure whether the Home Theater Forum provides this info either.
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Last edited by speedy1961; 01-10-04 at 04:54 PM.
 
Old 01-10-04, 05:35 PM   #3
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I agree completely. Why do they release on DVD5 when they should be releasing on DVD9 for better quality? Simply, because the studios can get away with it. It's a case where DVD5 with bitrate < 5 MBit is "good enough" for Joe Sixpack. He won't care or "see" the improvements resulting from the ~2x increase in bitrate from going to DVD9. So not charge the consumer $20 for a barebones release AND make it DVD5 to boot? We'll make even more money that way!! Right on!

The whole Superbit idea (scam?) is well illustrative of my point. They should be giving us these higher quality transfers while foregoing some of the "fluff" such as forced trailers and advertisements on normal releases! But why not make us Double-dip. It's the American Way!

The other point is: if you use DVD-9, for God's sake, make the most of it by filling up the entire 7.95 GB of space on the DVD by allocating maximum bitrate to the feature film!! It's becoming business as usual now to leave 2-3 GB of wasted space on many DVD-9 releases (I started a thread on this topic sometime ago).

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Old 01-10-04, 06:34 PM   #4
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DVD Empire lists the number of sides and layers on most all of the DVDs they sell, so that's probably your best bet for a "database".

As stated above, a DVD-5 is single-sided, single-layered by definition (just as all DVD-9s are single-sided and dual-layered). Other common formats:

DVD-10 (dual-sided, single-layered)
DVD-14 (dual-sided; single-layered on one side, dual-layered on the other)
DVD-18 (dual-sided, dual-layered)


Capacities:
DVD-5: 4.37 gig
DVD-9: 7.98 gig
DVD-10: 8.74 gig
DVD-14: 12.32 gig
DVD-18: 15.90 gig

With thanks to the DVD FAQ (maintained by Jim Taylor)
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Old 01-10-04, 06:48 PM   #5
Manzana
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Speedy1961, thanks for trying to help. I already know the statistics about DVD-5, DVD-9, etc. and what they mean in relation to layers and capacity. I wanted to focus on which DVD format each of the specific movies I listed is in and if there were any other databases for that info.

Widescreen review was a good suggestion, and it probably has that information, but I just tried and it requires a subscription to access the "good stuff". I don't need this layer info often enough to justify a big fee.

I would still very much like anyone who knows for sure about any of the DVDs I listed above to post whether they are DVD-5 or DVD-9.

zyzzle, I'm glad someone agrees with me. You'd think more review sites would mention the DVD format (and therefore the # of layers) and the average bitrate (though that's hard to determine accurately without a software tool), but it's very rare.

By the way, when I had posted a message similar to this on Usenet, I got 1 serious reply answering my question on 1 title, and the rest of the replies told me that I didn't need to know this layer or bitrate information as long as reviews said the transfer is good because a 8 Mbps transfer could look worse than a 4 Mbps transfer depending on the source material. True, it could, but it almost never does. So, I posted here hoping the more mature DVD Talk members could help because posting on Usenet rarely works (for me).
 
Old 01-10-04, 07:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Manzana
Speedy1961, thanks for trying to help. I already know the statistics about DVD-5, DVD-9, etc. and what they mean in relation to layers and capacity. I wanted to focus on which DVD format each of the specific movies I listed is in and if there were any other databases for that info.

Widescreen review was a good suggestion, and it probably has that information, but I just tried and it requires a subscription to access the "good stuff". I don't need this layer info often enough to justify a big fee.

I would still very much like anyone who knows for sure about any of the DVDs I listed above to post whether they are DVD-5 or DVD-9.

zyzzle, I'm glad someone agrees with me. You'd think more review sites would mention the DVD format (and therefore the # of layers) and the average bitrate (though that's hard to determine accurately without a software tool), but it's very rare.

By the way, when I had posted a message similar to this on Usenet, I got 1 serious reply answering my question on 1 title, and the rest of the replies told me that I didn't need to know this layer or bitrate information as long as reviews said the transfer is good because a 8 Mbps transfer could look worse than a 4 Mbps transfer depending on the source material. True, it could, but it almost never does. So, I posted here hoping the more mature DVD Talk members could help because posting on Usenet rarely works (for me).
In all fairness to Widescreen Review magazine, you get free access to their site when you subscribe to their magazine. I tried the magazine for a year, liked it overall but found it a wee too technical (I like my DVD magazines to be a bit more fun). As such if your interested in these types of stats, then get the subscription if you can enjoy the cost vs. data received. They currently have a plan that'll run you $2.62 a month for 13 issues.

If the data is somethat that you're partially interested in, pass on the subscription. I'm currently trying DVD ETC. but it definetely does not have what you're looking for.

I'm wondering if DVDVerdict.com or perhaps DVDAnswers.com has the answers that you're looking for.
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Old 01-10-04, 07:16 PM   #7
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FilmFanSea, thanks for suggesting DVD Empire! I had never visited that site before. Yes, they do have format/layer information for each DVD, so I ran through a bunch of my titles including several ones I owned and knew for sure. While I will give DVD Empire a very high accuracy rating (so much better than IMDB), unfortunately I found 2 errors ("Cahill, US Marshall" and "Quiz Show") out of about 20 I tried, so they can't be taken as the final, definitive source, but I will use it from now on as it's the best source I've yet seen. Great suggestion!

I still will need to check reviews to try to verify DVD Empire's info. Quite often at least one site will have discrepancies.

The discrepancies at DVD Empire from my list (based on reviews I read previously) are:

The Comancheros - says SS-DL
French Kiss - says SS-SL
Monkey Business (Cary Grant) - says SS-DL
Witness - says SS-DL

I also added Savage Sam and Snowball Express. DVD Empire said Savage Sam was SS-DL, but Snowball Express was SS-SL. Having seen many of Disney's barebones budget P&S DVDs, they are almost never SS-DL. Does anyone know about Savage Sam for sure? There are no reviews for Savage Sam, so I don't know how badly P&S it is or if it was filmed in 1.37:1. I can't search here for anything but "Savage" because the search engine does not allow words under 4 characters.
 
Old 01-10-04, 07:26 PM   #8
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Speedy1961, thanks for the additional information. The list of titles I have is pretty much the only ones I'm having trouble with now. Even though Widescreen Review isn't too expensive, it's more than I want to pay. Most of the time (certainly on new releases of new movies) there is tons of free information online. The questions arise because I like many old "catalog" titles which many sites don't review (Man's Favorite Sport, Thrill of It All, etc.), plus Disney films like Snowball Express and Savage Sam.

In my opinion, Disney & Buena Vista (including its subdivisions like Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures) have a track record of releasing barebones DVD-5s, so when I can find no reviews of their catalog releases I automatically assume DVD-5 and I avoid them until they are dirt cheap (under $7). Even Fox, Warner, Columbia, and Paramount occasionally release DVD-5s on both newer movies (such as Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles) and new releases of catalog titles (such as Big Jake or Memoirs of an Invisible Man).

I've tried DVD Answers and DVD Verdict (both are linked from DVD-Basen), and I have never seen format/layer info listed there.
 
Old 01-10-04, 09:55 PM   #9
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Here is a link to all DVD5 R1 disks.

http://www.afterdawn.com/tools/dvd_l...layer_format=5
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Old 01-10-04, 10:29 PM   #10
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My personal DVD collection site includes average bitrates, if that helps. (I only have one of the titles in your list, though.)
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Old 01-11-04, 11:16 AM   #11
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Shroud, thanks for that link to afterdawn which I probably would've never found on my own. It gives me another place to look for this info. Unfortunately that database lists everything released with the assumption of DVD-5 unless someone updates it otherwise, so most titles are unknown and incorrect. DVD Empire's layer info seems the most accurate and complete so far.

shill66, that's quite a huge list of DVDs with average bitrate info. Could you tell me how you determined all those bitrate numbers -- did you find that data somewhere else and link to it, or did you run a particular piece of software (perhaps freeware) on all your DVDs?

While it seems nobody may have any answers on specific DVD titles I mentioned (perhaps nobody reading this thread owns any of them), I have gotten several good web sites to check so I'm really glad I posted these questions. I will probably post separate review requests on DVDs like Savage Sam and Snowball Express which come up empty on DVD-Basen (it's the only multi-site DVD review search engine I know about... have I missed any?).
 
Old 01-11-04, 03:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
shill66, that's quite a huge list of DVDs with average bitrate info. Could you tell me how you determined all those bitrate numbers -- did you find that data somewhere else and link to it, or did you run a particular piece of software (perhaps freeware) on all your DVDs?
I've put all my discs in and checked them with a small app called "Bitrate Viewer" available here:
http://www.visualdomain.net/

I have layer information in my database, but my online collection page (which is built as a report off the database) doesn't include that field.

The one title in your list that I have is Much Ado About Nothing. The MGM release is dual-layer.
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