I know this business with the different formats can be hard to understand: believe it or not it took two years for me
to fully grasp, I understood how to repair a broken recorder before I really "got" the whole "Video Mode" vs "VR Mode" thing!
So I'm gonna try and restate the difference as simply as possible so you don't get delayed any further with your project (as applied to DVD-R only, I'll get into other media at the end):
"Video Mode" just means the data on the DVD-R is burned in a format thats compatible with standard DVD players. The data is burned in such a way that the recorder can't digitally read it back onto the hard drive, it can only play it out as analog. What trips people up with this concept is all the talk about needing to "finalize" the DVD-R before it can be played in ordinary DVD players: the logical (but wrong) assumption being if it were "not finalized yet" you could digitally copy the contents back to the recorder hard drive. What you need to know is that finalizing a DVD-R is simply the last step in the process, all it does is create an index thats understandable to any old DVD player. Even before finalizing, the video is already in "DVD player" format and so can't be read back digitally onto the hard drive.
What the recorder is forcing you to do with these discs, making a real-time one touch copy of each show, is exactly the same
as if you put them in an external player, wired it to the recorder, and made a copy that way. You get better results letting the recorder do it internally, though, because it burned the original DVDs and understands how to fine-tune the re-recording for best possible results. You will see a slight degradation in quality, because the recorder is reading the discs into analog and then digitizing them a second time for the hard drive, but with most TV shows originally produced on tape like the Colbert Report, the quality drop is not that noticeable.Since you no longer have a PC at home, we'll skip the options you would have with that (anyway as I said in my earlier reply its hardly worth the trouble, just live with your mistake this time and let the recorder do its thing with a re-encode, its not so bad really).
Now, for "VR" mode: when DVD recorders first were sold, machines with hard drives were awfully expensive, so mfrs invented "VR mode" as an option so you could make non-standard
DVDs for your own personal use that could be edited easily (standard DVDs cannot be edited after recording, just take my word for it its not worth explaining why
). This "VR Mode" burns the video in little discrete chunks that your Pioneer machine can read digitally back onto its hard drive without having to re-encode, because the hard drive itself
is always operating in "VR mode" and the data is completely compatible. Standard "Video Mode" burned DVDs store the data in one long continuous chunk that has to be translated back to a form the hard drive can understand, which is why the recorder forces a re-encode of those DVDs. Are you with me so far
Later on, when reusable R/W media became popular, mfrs made "VR" mode the default burn for that media, and your Pioneer will always burn R/W as "VR Mode" unless you tell it otherwise. Some people like to burn their R/W as if it were write-once -R media, so it can be played in normal DVD players. Doing that requires a menu setting your Pioneer telling it to burn R/W as "Video Mode", and then you have to finalize it for play on some types of hardware. "Unfinalizing" an R/W disc really just "unlocks" it, so you can add more stuff to it if it wasn't already full, otherwise it remains the same as a DVD-R disc: not
copyable back to the hard drive at high speed and full quality.
It helps if you visualize "Video Mode" and "VR Mode" as separate distinct items, like apples and oranges: both are fruits, but aren't the same. You have to remember to tell the recorder how you want to burn each disc, which means you kind of need to decide beforehand whether you think you'll EVER want to shift the burned contents back to the HDD again for further editing. If yes, then you need to go into the Disc Setup Menu and make sure the blank disc is initialized for "VR Mode": thats really all there is to it. A Pioneer auto-detects what media is loaded and defaults to one mode or the other: -R is always initialized in standard "Video Mode", you need to go into the menu and change this for every blank -R disc you want to use as a "VR" backup. R/W discs default every time to whatever preference you set in the R/W setup menu: Video or VR mode. Unfortunately this is not a one size fits all solution: because VR discs will ONLY play in your Pioneer recorder, you still have to also make finalized Video Mode discs for compatibility with other people. You can either do this at the same time you make the VR mode discs, or later on you can put the VR discs into the recorder to make a Video/DVD Mode copy of it. (A few years ago, the DVD-RAM media concept was invented to get around all this "mode" nonsense: RAM discs are always in VR mode, always "live" always editable. Sadly they are not compatible with most ordinary DVD players, so the format never really took off and it remains a niche product.)
Regarding the "one touch" DVD to HDD copying options of your recorder: this should be fairly easy to remember after some experience:
When you make a backup exact
copy of a burned DVD, it is done at high speed digitally with no loss in quality. This is possible with any type of media in either Video/DVD mode or VR mode. Note this is just simple direct copying of the disc: its contents never appear on the hard drive and you cannot change or edit anything.
When you want to make edits or changes, the copying process to the hard drive and the quality you get depends on the type of disc burn. As discussed, a disc burned in "VR Mode" remains "live" and completely transparent to the recorder: you can select individual titles or the entire disc contents, they will copy at high speed to the hard drive with no loss of original quality, and once there you can re-edit them to your hearts content. But a disc burned in "Video/DVD mode" is "dead" to the hard drive and unrecognized digitally: the recorder will insist on re-digitizing the entire contents in real-time (not high speed) to the hard drive, and there will be a loss of quality since its now a second-generation copy (the situation with your Colbert Shows). Once on the hard drive, your shows will be editable again and you can do whatever you want with them.
This is a limitation of all DVD recorders, not just Pioneers, and is due to the crude formatting requirements necessary to play burned DVDs on ordinary DVD players. Even with a computer, re-editing of DVDs burned in "Video/DVD" mode is a giant pain in the neck: the DVD format invented in 1996 is a real bear to work with.
WHEW! So much for "simplifying", I'm not sure if this will help you or confuse you even more. Its tougher to describe than it actually is, with use I'm sure you'll get a grip on it all!