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Why do some discs require side flipping? Can’t DVDs hold four hours per side?

Even though DVD’s dual-layer technology allows over four hours of continuous playback from a single side, some movies are split over two sides of a disc, requiring that the disc be flipped partway through. Most “flipper” discs exist because of producers who are too lazy to optimize the compression or make a dual-layer disc. Better picture quality is a cheap excuse for increasing the data rate; in many cases the video will look better if carefully encoded at a lower bit rate. Lack of dual-layer production capability is also a lame excuse; in 1997 very few DVD plants could make dual-layer discs, but this is no longer the case. Very few players can automatically switch sides, but it’s not needed since most movies less than 4 hours long can easily fit on one dual-layer (RSDL) side.

The Film Vault at DVD Review includes a list of “flipper” discs. Note: A flipper is not the same as a disc with a widescreen version on one side and a pan & scan version or supplements on the other.

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