Mac OS X Tiger/Meet the Applications/DVD Player

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File:Tiger DVD Player Window.png
Fig. 1 - DVD Player playing a movie.

Soon after audio CDs and CD-ROM discs took the world by a storm, the world's largest technology corporations began work on next-generation discs capable of holding over eight times as much information as their predeccessors. Two rival disc types were developed, but the companies producing them agreed to merge them together into one unified format: the DVD.

While everyone knew from the start that DVD-ROM discs would catch on for storing computer data, the primary use of this breakthrough storage technology would be storing video. And unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you'll know that the DVD disc has completely replaced the VHS tape, which is often no longer sold in stores.

The most popular place to play a video DVD will probably always be in a standalone DVD player plugged into a TV. However, every Mac that Apple has shipped this decade includes a built-in DVD Player for convenience. Simply insert a video DVD into your disc drive, and watch as its icon appears on your desktop. But if you double-click this icon, you're greeted by a confusing mess of unusable files containing the movie.

To navigate this mess of files, you need Apple's DVD Player application. It's easy enough to find; it's in your applications folder along with every other app you have in your collection. In fact, since there's not much you can do with a video DVD without DVD Player, your Mac will automatically open DVD Player when you insert a video DVD (assuming you haven't adjusted the settings in the CDs & DVDs pane of System Preferences).

Info Symbol NOTE: If your Mac came with an Apple Remote, you have a second way to play a DVD: with Apple's Front Row feature. Please refer to the wikibook iLife for information on Front Row and how to use its DVD Player.

Playing a DVD[edit]

When DVD Player loads, the movie should begin to play automatically. Most movies start by displaying a menu with options. Each DVD has a different menu, and menus can vary dramatically in appearance and layout.

Region Codes[edit]

Fig. 2 - A map of DVD regions.

If you are ever confronted by a dialog box asking you about changing a region code, then you've just had an encounter with one of the big movie studios' favorite tricks for regulating how their content is distributed. What exactly are these region codes, you ask?

Region codes are embedded into every DVD player, and some (but not all) DVD discs. In general, big-budget movies are more likely to contain a region code than smaller, less professional productions. The specific code inside is different depending on the country in which the player or disc was purchased. For example, american DVDs and DVD players have the code "1" embedded in them. DVD players are programmed to refuse discs with different codes. British DVDs (which contain the code "2") do not play in american DVD players (which contain the code "1").

Here's a simple scenario that shows why movie studios use region codes. Let's say that an english movie studio has just finished running its latest movie in theaters. The movie was a hit, so now they want to show it overseas in american theaters. Meanwhile, they also want to release it on DVD in England around the same time.

Without region codes, retailers in England would immediately export the DVD version to America, and people in America would be able to buy the movie on DVD while it was still in theaters. But since region codes exist, the british DVDs would contain the code "2", and american DVD players couldn't play them.

Problem solved for the movie studio, and extra hassle created for the consumer.

The DVD Player application is just a standalone DVD player in software form, so it adheres to the same rules. However, the DVD Player app comes without a region code set. The region code is automatically set when you first insert a region-protected DVD. That is, if the first DVD you play contains the code "1", then the DVD Player application turns into a Region-1 DVD player. But what if you move? Yes, you can change the region code. This takes us full circle to the dialog box asking about the region code.

If you ever insert a DVD with a different region code than the DVD Player application, you get a dialog box asking if you'd like to change DVD Player's region code to match the DVD. However, you can only do this five times. Sorry, but it's how things work! If you choose not to change the code, then you will not be able to play the DVD. It is not reccomended that you change the region code just to watch one DVD and then change it back - the five changes allowed will go by very quickly this way.

To see which DVD region you live in, please refer to the map in figure 2. Region 7 has been reserved for future use, and Region 8 is for airplanes and cruise ships.