DVDs play inconsistently - what is the problem???

mickbadal wrote on 1/6/2008, 6:15 PM
I'm hoping some of you with tremendous in-depth experience on all aspects of formats, codecs, DVD authoring and so forth can help me here.

I'm getting very inconsistent results from the DVDs I burn. On three separate DVD players that I own, one a Sony, one a built-in unit on a small TV, and the other a $30 junker, the discs work fine for the most part. But on other folks' players, the disks act funny - tracks will "stick" (frequent moments of "patchy" blocks of bits on the screen while the video is frozen), or even not work at all. These are the same discs that seem fine on my three test players.

This problem happened just this last week on a recent DVD project I did - I gave copies out to 3 friends, and their copies all "stuck" to varying degrees - on one person's Toshiba player, it only played for a few moments before the disc stopped and the player told them "disc error". Previously I had played parts of those discs on my player to test them, and they seemed fine. So I took another copy and played the entire thing on my player. about 1/2 way through, a track began "sticking", then I couldn't advance to other tracks without the video being "frozen". But then I ejected the disc and replayed it starting at these same tracks, and now they played fine!!! I'm wondering what in the world is the problem that is causing these strange results.

My process is: I render to MPG2 (the kind that prepares the stream for DVDA) from VMS 6.0, then I prepare the DVD image in DVDA 3.0, then I burn my DVDs using a tool called "TMPGEnc DVD Author" (I found DVDA burning to be very unreliable, the DVDs wouldn't even play on my players). The discs I use are vanilla DVDs I bought in bulk from the internet, nothing special about them.

To burn the discs, I'm using a "Life's Good" brand IDE DVD writer that writes in multiple formats - DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, etc. I have it hooked up through an external USB 2.0 enclosure (the kind you typically use to hook-up an external hard drive). That last part might seem suspicious, but keep in mind that the discs I burn with it work fine for the most part on 3 different players in my house. But I'll leave it up to you experts to tell me if you think that is playing into the problem.

So what do you think? Is the problem in VMS, or is it DVDA 3.0, or is it the TMPGEnc burning software, or is it my burner and/or hookup? I just want these things to work consistently for the people I give them to!



Eugenia wrote on 1/6/2008, 8:21 PM
If they die on different positions of the same video, then it's your discs to blame. Buy other brand discs, branded name.
Ivan Lietaert wrote on 1/6/2008, 9:23 PM
I have been 'consistently' happy with the dvds I burn with DVDA versions 3 and 4.5. The only explanations that are relevant in your case are:
1) your burning software, but I doubt it
2) the target players have a dust problem or are incompatible with your dvd media (some players can't cope with 16X for instance)

Dust is a strange thing: dusty players will often play commercial dvds without a problem and go crazy with selfmade dvds. Also, cleaning may help, but from personal experience I can tell you that after a while, cleaning won't help anymore, and there is nothing left except replacing the player. (That's why 30 bucks dvd players make me happy!)

Eugenia wrote on 1/7/2008, 1:11 AM
It is more likely to be using bad discs. I used to have a batch of cheap discs from Frys that would simply not work correctly. Cheap stuff. The first thing you change when something like this happens is buy branded discs and retry.
mickbadal wrote on 1/7/2008, 11:34 AM
Thanks guys.

Any tips on a good, stable brand of DVD to use, from your experience? Something that works on every player you have ever tried?
cmcdonald wrote on 1/7/2008, 12:01 PM
I have had similar problems. I burned some DVDs of a slideshow I did for a family reunion. One of the copies I burned did the same sticking. I then went back to the original copy I had. This copy I had palyed all the way through on a cheap WalMart DVD player, a Toshiba TV/DVD combo, and a nice Sony DVD player and it worked fine. I put it in the fancy hme theater system that my brother has and it stuck. The slideshow was made with Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 7 and burned with DVDA onto Sony DVD-R disks. Never have figured out what happened.
Tollkuhnator wrote on 1/7/2008, 2:53 PM
Does the disc play fine on the computer you created it on? I had this problem with genuine Sony DVD+R media. The disc would play on the computer and a Philips DVD player but "stick" on a Philips DVD/VHS combo, usually after 30 or so minutes of play. My solution was to change the burn speed from the default 16x to 8x, and now all is well.
mickbadal wrote on 1/7/2008, 3:10 PM
That last point made me think, so I have a question for you experts - my TMPGEnc DVD author software defaults to "8x" when I load a DVD for writing, but for some of my writes, I have changed that in the app to "maximum speed". Is it possible that this is causing the software to "write a little too fast" for the disc, and causing some inconsistent write results?

Regardless of the answer to the above question, I'm still also wondering - do you have a suggestion on the best branded DVD media to use based on the experience of you experienced folk out there, something that you rarely if ever recall failing on you?
cmcdonald wrote on 1/7/2008, 3:42 PM
I will have to double check on the burn speed. The DVD I burned worked fine on every system (computer & Player) I tried until I went to the reunion. Maybe it was just Murphy's Law kicking in.

I don't remember what speed I burned at when I created the DVDs. I often will go at a lower speed in order to avoid any problems but I was in a hurry and may not have done it this time.
mickbadal wrote on 1/8/2008, 5:59 AM
I appreciate the discussion, but my question has gotten buried twice - so let me post it once more, and I would appreciate if either Eugenia specifically (who originally replied with the answer of using branded DVDs) or someone else would reply if you have an answer to this specific question:

Any tips on a good, stable brand of DVD media to use, from your experience? Something that works on every player you have ever tried?
OhMyGosh wrote on 1/8/2008, 9:23 AM
Hi Mick,
I have dealt with the very same issue for years. I have tried almost every brand out there with hit and miss luck. My average was about 1 bad one out of every three I burned. They could mess up at any time, on any machine. Usually, the more I was hoping to impress someone, the more likely it was not to work! That's why I preview every DVD I make from start to finish, just to be sure. It's a real pain when the movie is long and/or I have a lot of them. Recently I was turned on to Taiyo Yuden DVD's. If you research them, you will see they come highly recommended, and are a cut above most others. They really seem to help so far. I had a six disc project, and all six worked the first time. Also, because I'm nervous about the burn speed, I will always burn at half the recommended speed, and quite often at 1X just because I can't afford to go through the time, effort, and expense just to end up with a DVD with 'issues.' Hope it helps. Let us know. Cin
Terry Esslinger wrote on 1/8/2008, 9:33 AM
I use exclusively Taiyo Yuden or Verbatum discs. I have both + & - discs as I find that sometimes people with older DVD players have more luck with one than the other. Research has shown me that for some reason dual format players (DVD and VHS) seem to have more problems and I experienced that with a player I had. I also have n EXPENSIVE but older (5 yrs) Denon player that will hardly play anything that I burn but I have a cheap Cyberhome $50 and a cheaper $35 Toshiba that seem to pla6y everything that I burn. I have also taken to burning at only 2x or 4x speeds. That used to be a rule. But according to Douglas Spotted Eagle (one of the people I listen closely to) that should not make a difference any more and indeed I have burned a few lately at 16x and they have worked fine. An interesting finding: I burned a disc for a customer and it would not play correctly on her Toshiba built into the TV player but would on my players. I used a duplicating tower to make her a copy on the same media (Verbatum) and it played fine on her player. Go figure!
Ivan Lietaert wrote on 1/8/2008, 10:18 AM
I have been very happy with Verbatim DVD+RW media.
mickbadal wrote on 1/14/2008, 1:59 PM
BTW for those interested - I tried burning new copies of the 4 discs that were playing inconsistently. I wrote the discs at 4x speed, instead of choosing "maximum speed" in my software. Ironically, the discs actually burned about 30% faster (14 minutes) than when I did max speed (23 minutes)! So clearly this made me suspicious that the "max speed" write was goofing up.

I gave the 4 new discs to one of the people whose player would not play the 4 original discs, and the new discs worked perfectly. I'm still using the same media that I did before. So it appears the write speed may largely have been the issue.

Thanks for the tip from someone above, when they mentioned the burn speed. It got me thinking, and now it appears I have a double-bonus - more reliable writes that also occur 30% faster.

chris hines wrote on 1/22/2008, 1:26 PM
WOW!! I was having this problem too! Burning at 8x fixed it right up!! :)
You guys/gals rock!