Every avid independent filmmaker has dreamed about making that special interest documentary, or short film to show off their creative prowess. Many have great ideas and want to “wow” the film-festival scene, or video renters with their big project. But once you have the film “in the can” (no easy feat), how do you move from a couple of master DVDs with the “Sharpie” marked hand-written title inside a secondhand CD case, to a pile of cardboard boxes full of shiny new, retail-ready DVDs, with UPC barcodes and polywrap sitting on your doorstep? You need to create eye-popping artwork and have your project replicated. Using a reputable full service DVD Replication company like PacificDisc, Inc. to partner with is certainly a helpful option to ensure a professional end result, but to help with your DVD replication project, here are 4 easy steps to follow for good DVD replication results:
1. Prepare your DVD master.
To ensure the replication company can read your master, you either need to create a DVD-R master, or output your project to a DLT (Digital Linear Tape). DLT has been around for years and used to be the only way to replicate. Thankfully DVD-R technology has advanced so much over the past few years, that a pair of DVD-R masters are normally all that is required when working on a standard DVD5 project. Why a pair? Just in case one of the masters gets damaged in transit, you don’t waste time looking for another good master.
2. Create your artwork
You’ll need to design artwork for the DVD face, the outside of the case (commonly called a wrap) and, if desired an insert for the inside of the case (postcard, or booklet). All CD or DVD Replication companies will have templates on their websites that you can download and use to assist in layout of your art. Just make sure you download the correct template for your project, as there are many variables and you won’t want to waste time with the wrong layout. While on the subject of artwork, it’s important to mention that you need to decide if your project needs a barcode (commonly called a UPC, or the black and white dashes inside a box on many products). If your DVD will be sold through retailers, you should have a UPC issued, as many retailers won’t stock an item without one.
3. Find a DVD replication partner
Although there are literally dozens of DVD replication companies out there (just type “dvd replication company” into your favorite search engine) not all DVD Replication companies are created equal. You’ll see all kinds of pricing models that will do an excellent job of confusing the heck out of you. Instead look for a partner who offers good pricing and tries to simplify the process. Make sure you are comparing the same thing when shopping around and watch out for hidden extras, like overage (where the replication company makes an extra bunch of discs and then expects you to pay for the extras). Watch out for setup fees, glass mastering fees, extra costs for offset printed discs, extra costs for 3-color vs. 5-color artwork. A little homework up front will ensure your DVDs look great when they arrive and you aren’t left with the feeling of being cheated, or have crappy looking discs that nobody will want to buy.
4. Approve check discs and artwork proofs
Once you have found the DVD replication company, you will be asked to send in your masters, artwork and cash. Most replicators want their money upfront, as they start burning materials as soon as the project lands. Within a few days of delivering your masters, you should see either email proofs of your artwork (simple digital prints (PDFs) showing you how your art elements will line up when printed. If you ordered a hard proof, the DVD replication company will ship you a print proof printed from the actual printing press earmarked to print your job. With a hard proof, you know exactly what you’re getting before you print hundreds of them. If you request a check disc, you’ll get a small number of “silver discs” to ensure your project has come through the DVD-R (or DLT) master to “glass” master process successfully.
Assuming everything checks out, and you send back your approvals, within a couple of weeks, you should hear the beep-beep-beep of the FedEx truck backing up your driveway. After a quick signature, you should be the proud owner of a pile of cardboard boxes filled with shiny DVDs —