Foreign DVD Playback

By: Mikio Moriyasu - Revised: 2006-07-13 devin


Two articles to help you play foreign DVDs on your computer.

Table Of Contents
    The need to research the possibility of "Region Free" DVD playback on our DVD equipped Macs arose when a Language Department instructor asked if MMC could play DVDs that she purchased overseas. The principle obstacle to fulfilling this request is the worldwide zoning system called “regions”. Established by the DVD industry, regions are used to identify the origin of a DVD video disc and restrict its playback to that region. The most direct solution would be for MMC to purchase “Region Free” DVD players that are designed to ignore the Region encoding “flags”. To equip all MMC facilities with these specialty machines, however, would be quite costly and would not be justified by the relatively small number of people who would be taking advantage of their “Region Free” capabilities. While it would be possible to purchase one of these players, a single unit would severely limit the number of DVDs that could be viewed by the instructor’s students at any given time. The second option would be to convert all MMC Mac computers equipped with DVD-ROM drives into “Region Free” DVD players and use them for hands-on DVD viewing, a function that they already serve when general computer usage in the lab is down.

    Region free DVD playback is a feature desired by many who wish to view movies and programs that are only available on foreign DVDs. The available solutions while functional do have their downsides. Along comes VLC, an open source freeware media player, which will play foreign format DVD without having to make any hardware or firmware modifications. Mikio will demonstrate how to use and configure VLC for region free DVD playback.