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This glossary includes terms relating both to DVD, and to Japanese pop culture and fandom.  If you encounter an unfamiliar term on Digital Monster Island, look it up here!  If you have any suggestions for terms that should be included, please email them.

- Anamorphic Widescreen A widescreen image that is encoded with high resolution.  This produces a very high-quality image that can be utilized by widescreen televisions.  Often labeled as “Enhanced for widescreen / 16:9 TV’s.”  Check out The Digital Bits' Ultimate Guide To Anamorphic Widescreen for a detailed, but easy-to-follow, explanation.

- Anime Japanese animation.  Used to be called “Japanimation,” but for some reason, that term has fallen out of use.

- Aspect Ratio The ratio of width to height of the onscreen image.  A film shot in 4:3 has an image that is 4 units wide for every 3 units high, which is almost square (great for fullscreen presentation).  A film shot in a widescreen ratio of 2.35:1 has an image that is 2.35 units wide for every 1 unit high, producing an image that is over twice as wide as it is high.  Presenting a movie like this in fullscreen is butchery.

- Audio Commentary A supplement that utilizes an alternate audio track to present a conversation with one or more people involved in the production, which plays concurrently with the film.  This allows the participant(s) to comment on the action as it happens onscreen.

- Bitrate The rate at which information is encoded on a DVD.  The higher the bitrate, the better the quality.  A low-bitrate DVD is analogous to an EP-mode  (slow speed) VHS tape.

- Bootleg An unauthorized copy of an original, copyrighted work.

- CGI Computer generated imagery.  A special-effects technique utilizing computers to generate and animate onscreen imagery.  Used correctly, the results can be spectacular (the Jurassic Park series).  Used carelessly, the results can be dismal (The Mummy Returns).

- Cropping A method of presenting a widescreen movie in fullscreen.  The sides of the original widescreen frame are simply cut away, without regard to composition.

- Daiei Studios Japanese studio which produced the Gamera, DaiMajin, and Yokai series.

- Daikaiju Japanese for “giant monster.”

- DTS Sound A very high-quality 5.1 or 6.1 sound format offered on some DVD’s.  Creates a fuller, richer sound with more natural separation than Dolby Digital 5.1.

- Dual-Layered A single-sided DVD disk with twice the amount of data storage space available, as compared to a standard single-sided DVD.  This is accomplished by encoding the information on two layers.

- Dubtitles Subtitles that aren’t directly translated from the original spoken language of a film, but instead are based on dubbing.

- DVD-18 A DVD disk that is both double-sided and dual-layered.

- DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW Blank DVD disks that can be recorded onto by consumers with the proper equipment.  DVD-R and DVD+R are separate, but similar, formats.  They can only be recorded onto once; their respective RW counterparts can be recorded over many times.

- DVD-ROM Supplemental materials on a DVD that can only be accessed by a computer with a DVD-ROM drive.

- Easter Egg A hidden feature on a DVD.  To find out what Easter Eggs may be waiting to be discovered on your DVD’s, check out the DVD Easter Eggs website.

- Eiga Japanese for “movie.”

- Engrish Asian form of poorly translated English.  Sometimes annoying, sometimes hilarious.

- Enhanced Region Coding See “region code enhanced (RCE).”

- Fansub A subtitle script translated by movie fans, for distribution to other fans.  Not professionally prepared or officially licensed.

- Fanzine An independent, non-professional, non-sanctioned magazine published by fans, for fans.  The most prominent example in kaiju fandom is G-Fan, published in Canada by J.D. Lees’ Daikaiju Enterprises.

- 5.1 Sound A high-quality sound format utilizing 5.1 channels of sound delivered to six speakers (two front and two rear speakers for music and effects, one center speaker for dialogue, and a powered subwoofer for bass and other low effects).

- Flash Upgrade Some DVD players can be modified by downloading an upgrade from the internet, burning it to a CD, and playing the CD in the DVD player.  Options available for upgrade include disabling region codes, turning off macrovision, and bypassing user operations (UOP disabling).

- Full Frame See “fullscreen.”

- Fullscreen The aspect ratio of about 1.33:1, which fills the screen of a standard TV from top to bottom.  For some films (particularly older ones, and made-for-TV or -video programs), this is the OAR.  However, many films are shot in a rectangular format for presentation in movie theaters.  If this widescreen image fills a square TV screen from top to bottom, then portions of the picture are lost at the sides.  Thus, the visual compositions created by the director are compromised.  Also called “full frame.”

- Gaijin Japanese for “foreigner” or “outsider.”

- Heisei The Japanese calendar is tied in with the reign of the Emperor.  The term “Heisei” denotes the reign of the current Emperor.  Thus, films released during this period are often referred to as Heisei films to differentiate them from older, similar films.  For example, the Godzilla films released from the 1980’s onward are referred to as the Heisei Godzilla series.  The Godzilla films released in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s are referred to as the Showa Godzilla series, in reference to the previous Emperor’s reign.

- Henshin Japanese for “transformation.”

- Jewel Case The standard type of case used for music CD’s.  Few DVD’s come in jewel cases.  For some reason, Toho Video used them for several years.  They have since switched to standard keepcases.

- Kaiju Japanese word meaning “monster” or “strange creature.”

- Kawai Japanese for “cute.”

- Keepcase The standard type of all-plastic DVD case.

- Layer Change A short pause that occurs when a DVD player switches from reading information on one layer of a dual-layered DVD to the other.  Different players handle this transition differently.  More advanced / faster players may not exhibit any noticeable pause when switching layers.

- Letterbox See “widescreen.”

- Macrovision Copy-protection software used to prevent unauthorized copying of DVD’s.  It fluctuates the signal output from the DVD player, so that if the signal is run through any secondary device (such as a VCR) en route to the TV, the image will be severely distorted.  Some DVD players can be modified to disable Macrovision.

- Manga Japanese comic strip, comic book, or graphic novel.

- MSRP Manufacturer’s suggested retail price.  This is the price that product manufacturers recommend to retailers.  However, competition often results in actual retail prices being less than MSRP.

- Nikkatsu Studios Japanese studio whose only entry in the daikaiju genre is Gappa, The Triphibian Monsters.

- NTSC Video standard used throughout most of the world.  Utilizes fewer vertical lines of resolution than the PAL standard used in Europe.  Conversion devices are available (and built into some DVD players) that allow PAL programs to be viewed on NTSC televisions, and vice-versa.

- OAR Original aspect ratio.  The aspect ratio that a particular film was originally intended to be shown in.

- Otaku Japanese term for “obsessed fan.”  While considered somewhat derogatory in Japanese (like “fanboy”), Western fans use it more affectionately.

- Out Of Print (OOP) Titles listed as “out of print” are no longer being produced by the manufacturer.  New copies may still be available from retailers, but they are limited to stock on hand.  Once all remaining copies sell out, these titles are only available on the secondary market (such as eBay / Half.com).

- OVA / OAVOriginal video animation” or “original animated video.”  A Japanese film or program that isn’t made for theatrical or television distribution, but instead premieres on home video.  Can refer to live-action programs as well as animation.

- PAL Video standard used in Europe (and a few other places).  Utilizes more vertical lines of resolution than the NTSC standard common throughout the rest of the world.  Conversion devices are available (and built into some DVD players) that allow PAL programs to be viewed on NTSC televisions, and vice-versa.

- PAL Conversion There are two types of PAL to NTSC conversion:  Basic and correct.  DVD players with basic PAL conversion enable you to view fullscreen and non-anamorphic widescreen PAL DVD's on NTSC televisions.  However, anamorphic PAL images will be vertically stretched.  DVD players with correct PAL conversion can display all PAL images (including anamorphic) in the correct aspect ratio.

- Pan & Scan A method of presenting a widescreen movie in fullscreen.  The image is moved back and forth across the original widescreen frame in an attempt to keep the camera focused on important action.

- PD See “public domain.”

- Progressive Scan A DVD player with progressive scan can use the extra lines of resolution on an anamorphic DVD to improve the sharpness of the image when viewed using a compatible television.

- Public Domain A title that is not copyrighted.  This can occur when copyrights aren’t renewed (which sometimes happens with older works), or when a copyright isn’t properly established in the first place (George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead is probably the most prominent example of this).  As a result, anyone can produce, sell, or broadcast copies of public domain material without having to pay royalties or licensing fees.

- Region Code Enhanced (RCE) A newer, more advanced kind of region coding for DVD’s.  Some big studios use RCE on their major new releases.  RCE disks will not play on players that are set for “region 0.”  Fortunately, there are still ways around this.  Some DVD players are “region selectable” as opposed to “region free.”  Once the player is manually set to the appropriate region, the disk will play.  Many recent R0 upgrades do this automatically, so you never have to worry about it.  Also called “enhanced region coding.”

- Region Codes For DVD marketing purposes, the world is divided up into regions.  For example, North America is region 1, Europe and Japan are region 2, Hong Kong is region 3, Australia is region 4, etc.  To prevent imported disks from competing with domestic releases of the same title, studios often encode their DVD’s to be playable only in certain regions.  Thus, most disks sold in the U.S. can only be played on region 1 DVD players.  Some disks are region free (or region 0), and some DVD players can be modified to disable region codes and play disks from any region.

- Region 0 / Region Free A disk or DVD player with no region code restrictions.

- Sentai Japanese for “Task Force” or “Troop.”  Refers mainly to the many series made by Toei that feature a group of colorful costumed heroes working together to battle evil.  Many of these Sentai shows have been translated into the Power Rangers series in the U.S.

- Shochiku Studios Japanese studio whose only entry in the kaiju genre is The X From Outer Space.

- Showa The Japanese calendar is tied in with the reign of the Emperor.  The term “Showa” denotes the reign of the previous Emperor.  Thus, films released during this period are often referred to as Showa films to differentiate them from more recent, similar films.  For example, the Godzilla films released in the 1950’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s are referred to as the Showa Godzilla series.  The Godzilla films released from the 1980’s onward are referred to as the Heisei Godzilla series, in reference to the current Emperor’s reign.

- Slimcase A type of plastic DVD case that is the same height and width as a standard keepcase, but only half as thick.

- Snapper Case A type of DVD case that is comprised largely of cardboard, which uses a plastic snap to open and close.  The only major studio still using them is Warner Brothers.

- Stop-Motion An animation technique pioneered by Willis O’Brien, and perfected by Ray Harryhausen.  Small-scale models of characters are filmed one frame at a time, while being moved very slightly between exposures.  Like hand-drawn animation, this creates the illusion of fluid movement when played back.

- Storyboards Shot-by-shot drawings used to plan the filming of a scene.

- Suitmation The special effects technique used to bring Godzilla and his monster co-stars to life.  Monsters are portrayed by actors wearing costumes, who perform on miniature sets.  The size and detail of the sets, the use of low camera angles, and the speed at which the footage is shot and played back, creates the illusion of giant size creatures in everyday surroundings.

- Superbit A line of DVD’s marketed by Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment.  Eschews special features in favor of devoting the maximum amount of disk space solely to the movie (in anamorphic widescreen), with audio tracks like Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS.  This results in very high-quality picture and sound.  “Superbit Deluxe” releases include supplemental materials on a second disk.

- Super-Deformed A common form of Japanese caricature.  An SD version of a person or character typically has a squat, stocky body with an oversize head & facial features.

- Toei Studios Japanese studio which produces a large number of tokusatsu programs, including Masked Rider, Kikaida, and the myriad Sentai series.

- Toho Studios The studio that started the tokusatsu genre in Japan with their release of the original Gojira (Godzilla, King Of The Monsters) in 1954.  They have since produced many Godzilla sequels, as well as other kaiju films like Rodan and Mothra.

- Tokusatsu A broad term covering all genres of Japanese special-effects films and television programs.

- Trailer A movie preview.

- Tsuburaya Productions Japanese studio named after its founder, Eiji Tsuburaya.  They produce the many Ultraman TV series and movies.  Often abbreviated as “Tsuburaya Pro.”

- UOP Disable Some DVD players can be modified to be UOP (user operations) disabled.  This allows the user to bypass any “automatic” settings on the disk.  Some disks have subtitle tracks that are only visible with certain audio tracks, and many disks have annoying commercials, trailers, and legal warnings that play automatically.  All of these can be defeated by a UOP disabled player.

- UPC Universal product code.  This is the number encoded in the barcode found on many products.  Used by retailers to identify items and track inventory.

- VCDVideo compact disk,” or “video CD.”  A movie recorded not on a DVD, but on a standard CD.  Since a CD holds less data than a DVD, the movie is spread across two disks.  Video quality is roughly equivalent to VHS (depending on the mastering of individual titles).  This inexpensive digital format is still popular in parts of Asia.  Most DVD players can also play VCD’s (with the notable exception of Sony’s PlayStation 2).  VCD's are not region coded.

- Widescreen Most films are shot in a rectangular format for presentation in movie theaters.  For this rectangular image to be seen in its entirety on a square TV screen, it must be presented with black bars on the top and bottom of the picture.  This preserves the full width of the image, the way it was shot by the director.  Also called “letterbox.”

- Yakuza A Japanese organized crime syndicate.

- Yokai Japanese term for supernatural creatures.


BROWSE DVD REVIEWS:


- Eastern Kaiju:

Godzilla & Other
Toho Kaiju


Gamera & Other Daiei Kaiju

Other Eastern
Kaiju


- Western Kaiju:

Ray Harryhausen

Other Western
Kaiju


Documentaries & Compilations



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