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How To Fit More Than 2 Hours of Video on a DVD

How to fit more than 2 hours of video on a dvd.

Back in the days of Video Cassette Recorders, recording your own movies was a pretty simple process. Blank tapes could be recorded in Standard Play (SP) mode or Long Play (LP) mode. Standard Play offered better quality and approximately 2.5 hours of recording time. Long play tapes could store up to 8 hours of video at a slightly reduced quality.

By comparison, a recordable DVD disc holds 2 hours of video at the standard rate. One thing that people often ask is: how can I fit more than 2 hours of video on a single-layer DVD? It is possible, and today I’m going to talk about some different ways to do this.

If you are using a standalone DVD recorder such as those made by Sony, Pioneer, JVC, and other brands, you may be able to configure your machine to do extended length recordings. Many recorders have options in the menu for doing SP, LP, EP, and XP modes. On some devices, choosing a different mode will allow you to record 3 or 4 hours of video at a reduced quality, just like a VHS tape. However, some recorders may also change the size of the video from the default 720×480 to a smaller resolution.

With DVD recording decks, these modes are not standardized. Using the LP mode on a Sony recorder may be entirely different from using the LP mode on another recorder. In some cases, the recorder may produce a non-standard DVD disc that will work in some (but not all) DVD players. Be sure to consult your DVD recorder’s user manual to learn more about what the different mode settings mean. Of course, what everyone wants is to produce a DVD with 2+ hours of video that will work in the vast majority of players. The best way to do this is to capture and edit your video using a computer. It does take more time and the learning curve is higher than using a standalone recorder, but it is the only way to ensure that you get the results you want.

There are several different ways to transfer your video content to a computer. Many digital camcorders connect via USB or FireWire connections, or they store their videos on removable memory cards. Older video formats such as 8mm, Digital8, and MiniDV will have to be recorded through a camcorder or capture device.

A universal capture device will allow you to record video from any composite source (the red, white, and yellow RCA connectors). These capture devices typically include a software package for recording and editing the video files on the computer.

Once the video is captured, it can be edited with software such as Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, Avid, Final Cut Pro, or iDVD. Here, users can cut out unnecessary scenes to reduce the length of their videos. After editing, the final video is ready to be rendered for export. In this critical step, the user can control the bitrate (or, quality) of the video. Choosing the best bitrate will produce a disc that is over 2 hours in length but still compliant with DVD standards.

If all this seems like an awful lot of work, you are correct. Creating DVD projects of extended length is a task for advanced users. But what if there were another way to create extended length movies without the hassle of changing settings or learning to use a non-linear editing system? You can if you purchase dual-layer DVD discs.

Dual layer DVDs offer nearly twice the storage capacity of standard blank DVDs. With 8.5GB of space, it is easy to burn up to 4 hours of DVD-quality video on a single disc. Best of all, dual-layer discs are compatible with all hardware bearing the DVD DL logo. Although they cost slightly more than regular DVDs, dual-layer discs more than make up for it with the amount of time and effort saved.

You can shop for DVD-R DL discs, DVD+R DL discs, and other recordable DVD media online by visiting They carry blank discs from major manufacturers including Taiyo Yuden, Verbatim, Mitsui, Philips, and US Digital Media.