DVD Burners

Being able to burn a DVD is useful for both proofing your titles on set-top DVD players and burning the finished project (when only a small number of discs are required). You can also burn a disc for a duplication or replication facility to use as a master when larger quantities are needed.

You cannot burn discs that support Macrovision copy-protection or Content Scrambling System (CSS) encryption. These must be created at a replication facility.

Note: For best results, it is recommended that you supply the replication facility with a DLT tape or hard disk instead of a burned DVD disc. Be sure to confirm with the facility what formats it supports.

Choosing a DVD Burner

When choosing a DVD burner for your system, you have the option of using an Apple SuperDrive or other drives. Your choice depends in part on which media you want to use: whether you intend to burn on red laser or blue laser media and, in the case of red laser burners, whether to use general or authoring media.

Note: You cannot burn SD projects to blue laser media.

General Versus Authoring Media

The first drives created to write DVD-R discs used a special red laser and expensive media and are known as authoring media drives. The most common DVD drives, however, use a less expensive red laser and media. Such drives are known as general media drives.

Red laser DVD drives can write to either general or authoring media—not both. The SuperDrive supplied with many Apple systems supports only general media. To use authoring media, you need to connect a special DVD-R drive.

Important: Be sure you write only to media supported by your drive. If the media is not labeled either general or authoring, it was likely manufactured before the existence of general drives and can be assumed to be authoring-compatible.

The type of media you use only affects the writing of the disc. Both types of DVD drives and most DVD-ROM drives and set-top DVD players can read and play both general and authoring media.

For most projects, there is no significant difference between a DVD created using general or authoring drives and discs. However, if you intend to use a replicator and require high-end features such as Macrovision copy-protection and CSS data encryption, you must use authoring media with an authoring drive.

Even with authoring media, you cannot burn a DVD that supports any of these high-end features on your own system. However, authoring media supports the Cutting Master Format (CMF), which can be used to add information required by the replicator to put these features on your discs. General media does not support CMF.

See The Cutting Master Format for more information on the CMF standard.

An Alternative Way to Use General Media

While you cannot use the CMF format directly on general media discs, you can still use general media discs to deliver DVD projects with high-end features to your replicator by using them as data discs. In general, you format your project to your hard disk using a CMF or DDP format. You can then copy the resultant Layer 0 and Layer 1 folders to your DVD media (each layer to its own disc). While these discs are not DVD-Video discs and cannot be played in a DVD player, they do contain all the information the replicator needs to create the final discs. See Output Devices for more information about formatting to your hard disk.

Important: Be sure to check with your replicator before making the discs.

About the Different Types of General DVD Media

There are several types of DVD media available that DVD Studio Pro can use. The type you should use depends on your requirements. For example,

  • If playback compatibility is a primary concern: Burning discs that can be played back on most set-top DVD players is often a high priority. Several variables affect this, including the media type, the brand of media, and the DVD player itself. In general, newer DVD players can play a wider variety of media types; however, there are exceptions to this. You should always test your burned DVDs on a variety of DVD players to verify compatibility.
  • If rewritable media is more efficient for you: Using rewritable DVD media can be very useful when you want to burn a test disc of a project to verify various aspects of it. For example, you might want to burn a disc just to verify that a menu or script works correctly on a set-top DVD player or to see the video quality of a clip on a variety of external monitors. Being able to make a change to the project and then reuse the disc to burn it saves having to use a new disc each time.
  • If you need to burn a dual-layer project: Being able to burn a dual-layer project to a DVD disc can be very useful. You should be aware, though, that there are big differences between DVD+R double-layer and DVD-R dual-layer media.

Following is some general information on the types of media you are able to choose from.


These are “write-once” discs that tend to be the most widely compatible with DVD players.


These rewritable discs can be erased and reused multiple times. While they cost a bit more than “write-once” discs, the ability to use them multiple times to verify various aspects of your project as you work on it can be very useful. However, rewritable discs tend to not be as compatible with DVD players as “write-once” discs.

When you use DVD-RW and DVD+RW media, DVD Studio Pro first checks to see if the disc contains any files. If it is empty, the format proceeds. If there are files on the disc, an alert appears warning you that the disc will be erased if the format continues—you can then continue or cancel the format process.

DVD+R Double-Layer

You can use DVD+R double-layer media, often referred to as DVD+R DL, for burning your dual-layer projects. With DVD+R double-layer media, DVD Studio Pro places the layer break point and sets the switch point to be nonseamless as specified in your project.

DVD+R double-layer discs require you to use the Opposite Track Path (OTP) direction setting when burning the disc. This means that the first layer must be larger than the second layer. See Setting the Dual-Layer Direction for more information.

While DVD+R double-layer discs allow you to burn your dual-layer projects, they tend to have more compatibility issues than the other types of DVD media.

DVD-R Dual-Layer

If your system contains a DVD drive that can write to the new DVD-R dual-layer media, you can burn your DVD project to it with DVD Studio Pro. However, there are several issues:

  • Because currently DVD Studio Pro has no way to identify DVD-R dual-layer media as having two layers, burning a dual-layer project to it results in the appearance of an alert message telling you that the DVD media may have insufficient room to hold the project. This message is based on the assumption that the disc is single layer. Both layers of the disc will be written to as needed, however, when you click Continue.

  • If you are burning a dual-layer project, the break point you set will not affect where the layer break actually occurs. Instead, the first layer is written to until filled, at which point the drive switches to writing to the second layer.

  • The switch between layers is a seamless layer change not supported by some DVD players, which may stop playing the disc when the switch point is reached.

Important: Do not use DVD-R dual-layer media unless these issues do not impact your project.

Determining Which Media Types Your DVD Drive Supports

Before using any of the media types described in About the Different Types of General DVD Media, you should verify that your DVD drive supports that type.

To verify the media types supported by your DVD drive
  1. Choose Apple menu > About This Mac.

  2. Click the More Info button in the About This Mac window.

  3. Click the disclosure triangle next to Hardware to show the list of hardware devices.

  4. Select the Disc Burning item in the hardware list.

    The DVD-Write line that appears in the information pane lists the supported media types.