DVD's that won't play anymore...


A client came to me with a bag of miniDVD's from an old video camera. A lot of holiday footage was taken and memories were ready to be rekindled. The only problem that she had, was that they would not play on a conventional DVD player.

"But they worked because they looked fine when played through the camera viewfinder!" she said.

I did not doubt that for a second.

When burning a blank CD, or using a camera to record a DVD, or Blu-ray disc, we always recommend that customers finalize their discs when they are finished recording. But what does it mean to finalize a disc, and how do you go about doing it? Well, today I'm going to tell you.

When you begin burning a disc, the first thing the recording laser does is writes a small section of data near the center hub of the disc. This section is called the "Lead-In," and it contains the Table of Contents for the disc. Just like a book, the Table of Contents tells the player how many tracks are on the disc and where each track begins and ends.

This critical information is used by all types of players to read the disc. A CD with a corrupt, incomplete, or missing table of contents will not play back.

Next, the recorder burns the information for each track. This accounts for the vast majority of information which is written to the recordable DVD or CD disc. All of the songs, files, and content that you added to your project is burned during this phase.

Although the information is now on the disc, the disc is still "open." This means that new sessions of information can still be added to the disc at a later date. The problem with this is that nearly all CD and DVD players cannot read the information from a disc which is "open." Only discs which have been finalized will be playable in devices like car stereos, laptops, and DVD players.

In fact, the recorder that burned the information is often the only device which can read the information. This is why testing your master discs on the same device you recorded them with can result in a false positive!

When all of the information has been written to the disc, it's time to close the session. Another phrase for this is finalizing the disc. Finalizing means that a small packet of information is written to the disc, known as the "Lead-Out." This information tells the player that all of the data sessions have ended and that there is no more information.

So what happens when the original camera used to record the DVD is no longer working or available? Can the footage from the unfinalised disc be retrieved?

Luckily,in most cases they can. If you have miniDVD's from an old camera that you no longer can use, it is still possible to recover the footage and precious memories. To find out more contact me to find out more.

Yours,

Domenic.

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