A DVD Duplication Requirement Arises
Sam works for a company that provides businesses with safety documentation and equipment as well as performing risk assessments for all kinds of eventualities. The business has recently started to move into the field of supplying safety information videos and has employed the services of a local video production company to film and produce the safety videos for them. Upon speaking to existing clients about the new video products and arranging a viewing for a select few companies, it became apparent that there would be a sizeable demand for video products and they would need to be able to supply them with copies of applicable safety videos as well as using them to promote their own company to other businesses.
So, they found themselves in need of a DVD printing and duplication company to assist with producing copies of their safety videos in bulk. Sam was assigned the task of finding a reputable supplier as she has a good technical and I.T. skillset and the necessary experience. The existing clients were very keen to receive the videos on DVD as soon as possible and the Managing Director was also keen to begin mailing out DVDs along with promotional materials to win more business for the company. They allowed themselves 2 weeks for the project from start to finish.
Approaching DVD Duplication Suppliers
Having had no experience with the DVD printing and duplication business before, Sam began with an internet search to see which companies turned up for the searches “DVD Printing” and “DVD Duplication”. She was surprised at how many companies there were in the UK offering these services and the scale of some of their operations. Sam had been under the impression that digital downloads had decimated the CD and DVD production industry but her research proved otherwise. The team had decided upon an initial run of 500 copies for each of 20 different videos, a requirement of 10,000 discs in all. Sam began by requesting quotes from the top ten companies on a finalised list. All these companies had very good, informative websites and good customer feedback, so she decided to use the quotation process as a customer service gauge.
Seven out of the ten DVD duplication companies on the list got back to her within an hour of the quote request and three of those followed up with a call. Sam spoke to a customer manager for a company during one of these calls and was very impressed with his courtesy, respectful approach and level of knowledge, so she decided to use this company. They didn’t supply the cheapest quote but she is a big advocate of the saying, “You get what you pay for” and this company gave her the impression that they cared and would supply a high quality product which was essential as she wanted to create a brilliant first impression with her customers, in turn.
DVD Artwork, Templates and Masters
The project manager for the chosen company, who’s name was Mark, suggested a meeting and was keen to show Sam around their DVD printing and duplication facility. As they were only a 30 minute trip from the offices, she accepted and went to meet him at 2pm the following day. During the meeting Sam was introduced to the bewildering array of printing and packaging options available for DVDs but things became much clearer once she explained what the project was about, the project budget and what was needed to get across to the clients. Sam decided upon a lithographic print for the DVDs as she had some great still shots from the video production sessions which would make great DVD printing artwork and DVD packaging artwork. As she was good with Adobe Photoshop, Mark suggested that he should supply Sam with DVD templates and packaging templates for her to produce the artwork for the DVDs herself as she had a good idea of what she wanted to see on the finished product.
They discussed the differences between printing techniques for DVDs; screen printing is good for artwork featuring blocks of colour and text and lithographic printing is best for printing photographic images onto the DVDs themselves. The DVD packaging is digitally printed and so regardless of whether the image is black and white or all singing and dancing full colour, the printing costs are the same.
The DVD Duplication Suite
Mark then showed Sam around the DVD duplication suite at his company where the copies of the DVDs are produced. The suite consisted of many duplication towers all linked into a central controlling master unit. The duplication drives themselves are the same as those found in a desktop PC and the towers house as many as 20 drives. In order to maximise the efficiency of the suite there were many of these towers running simultaneously and loading and unloading of the DVDs from each individual drive was performed by a robotic handling system rather than manually. Performing the task by hand would obviously have been extremely laborious and prone to human error. The robotic system minimises potential damage to the surface of the printed DVDs as they are lifted using a series of small, rubber vacuum cups. The loading and unloading process is very fast enabling the suite to duplicate many thousands of DVDs very quickly to reduce project lead times.
The DVD Master and a Format Issue
Following their quick tour of the duplication suite, they discussed the DVD masters and how the videos were to be presented to clients and potential customers. Their discussion revealed a serious issue with the DVD video files. The video files were in an AVI format and were split into chapters for each of the 20 DVDs but each DVD needed to have a menu graphic and to provide the option for the viewer to select the chapter that they wanted to watch. This meant that each DVD needed to be re-mastered to include the menu system and the format altered so that the DVDs would play in a standalone DVD player as well as on a PC or laptop.
Suddenly, two weeks was looking a bit tight for the project as all this had to be done for 20 different DVDs. It also added to the project cost but Sam really didn’t want to cut corners with the presentation of the DVDs and so she modified the budget and made a mental note to remember to consider the DVD mastering for the next project.
The DVD Packaging
There is an amazing array of different types of DVD packaging available but Sam settled upon a simple, clear standard DVD case for this project as this allowed her to include an 8 page booklet inside the case on the left hand side which was held in place by moulded plastic clips. The DVD case printed cover then slots down inside the clear plastic sheath on the outside of the case.
The Production of the DVDs
Sam spent the next two days producing the artwork for the DVDs and learnt a lot about producing artwork for printing, such as making sure that the photographic image is not too dark as dark images do not print well and also about keeping any text well inside the edge of the print (allow at least 4 to 5mm clearance). She also learnt about the requirement for a 3mm bleed zone around the edge of the artwork to allow for printed image bleed during the process. The masters were produced and verified by the end of the week which left about 4 working days for the chosen company to produce the DVDs. They were cutting it fine but the supplier managed to come through for them. The supplier had committed to delivering some of the DVDs on the Friday of the following week and they made a delivery on the Friday morning. The final products were great and Sam was satisfied that she had made the right decision with regards to the supplier who were very supportive throughout the project.
The DVDs proved to be extremely popular and were all gone within the following two weeks. Thankfully, as the supplier had all of the information on file they were able to produce another run of 10,000 in only 3 days. Mark and Sam then discussed the possibilities of producing the next run of DVDs using the replication process rather than the duplication process as the quantities would be higher and Sam could make a saving on the unit cost at the expense of a little more production time.
Sam’s first experience of the DVD printing and duplication industry was a mostly positive one largely due to having found a good supplier but there were several points where better planning was required or experience would have assisted. She makes the following recommendations to anyone else who finds themselves in the same position:
Do some thorough internet research on potential suppliers
Make a judgement on the kind of customer support that you can expect by asking for a quote
Ask about templates if you’re going to do the artwork yourself
Discuss what works and what doesn’t with your supplier, don’t wait until 3 days before you need DVDs
Make sure that your master is correctly formatted for maximum player compatibility
Don’t try to do everything last minute, that’s when mistakes are made and money is wasted
Treat your supplier with respect, you’ll most likely get a great service that way.