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Secrets to Successful DVD Duplication

November 21, 2005

By Tony Tyler

Tony TylerTony Tyler, Play-It Productions, and Brian Brodeur, New York DVD, gave an informative seminar on DVD Authoring at the Manhattan Center this past October for MCA-I members and guests. We were so impressed by their knowledge, we asked them to share some of it with our readers.

So you’ve completed your DVD project and have a master in hand. Now what? Ask and answer the questions below and you’ll be well on your way to releasing your DVD title on time, properly packaged, and within your budget.

1. How many do I need? The answer to this question will help you determine how to make the discs that you need. a. A very small quantity, lets say less then 50 or so, for a targeted audience may be best handled “in-house” on your own computer equipped with a DVD burner. It would be important to choose very high quality media and have a full understanding of your DVD drive as well as the burning software you will use. In general, it is recommended that you burn at the slowest possible speed on the highest quality media. Do NOT create a multi-session disc or allow additional files to be written and be sure to verify the disc content after the process is complete. How to do this will vary so consult the instructions provided with your software. b. If you still need a small quantity, maybe 100 – 200, and feel it’s more than you can mange on your own, consider outsourcing to a duplication facility. Follow the instructions listed above to create one copy that will become the master. c. If you need a much larger quantity, at least 500 or more, then you will want to outsource the manufacturing of the finished discs to a replication company. Be sure to thoroughly test your master before you outsource for duplication or replication as you will be given, guaranteed in fact, DVD copies that are an exact replica of that master.

2. How will I package and deliver my finished product to the end user and how much time do I have to get it there? There are many options to choose from, so open this can of worms early on to give you time to compare costs and delivery times. a. Here are a few things to consider: Are these discs give-a-ways? Is the content more important that the presentation of the finished product? Are they being shipped, if so how, or will I hand deliver? Do I need to worry about breakage in transit? Will the finished discs be part of a media kit or a component part of a larger package? Are these for commercial sale?

3. What is my budget? This is not the same as I want the cheapest product I can get or money is no object. Really try to put a budget together that is realistic and reflects the quality product and service that your research tells you will be needed to accomplish your goals. Be sure to shop around, know you specs and compare “apples to apples.” Ask for references and see examples of previous projects. Integrity, quality products, and a range of services are very important factors when choosing a duplication/replication company. Once you have answered these questions…or have at least narrowed the playing field, you can start the production process for the final product.

Key points and terms you will want to understand:

  • Design the package.
    Hire a graphic designer: The packaging and printing process in our industry is different than standard commercial printing and some media design. It is important to work with a designer that understands optical media production and will design accordingly. It would also be good to work with someone that will be capable of creating print artwork that is in harmony with your menu art to complete the branding of your title.
  • Understand your reproduction options.
    1. Duplication: The process in which a CDR (Compact Disc Recordable) is burned, also known as recorded, with a laser. This is perfect for small runs and fast turn situations.
    2. Replication: A process in which a DVD is created using an injection molding process. This is a multi stage process beginning with the creation of the stamper or glass master and followed by the molding and printing process.
  • Understand your on-disc printing options.
    1. Adhesive labels: These are very common for short-run projects and can be used to print B&W as well as full color artwork. NOT recommended for products that will require a long shelf life, as there have been some test results showing bubbling of the label surface that may effect playback. When applying a label, be sure that it is perfectly centered and covers the entire disc surface so the weight is evenly distributed.
    2. Thermal Transfer: Thermal Transfer printing is when the heat from the printhead is applied to the ribbon and the material on the ribbon is then transferred to the disc.
    3. Inkjet: Ink is used to print on a media specifically designed for this process. The printer places extremely small droplets of ink onto the disc to create an image. The end result can be very high quality printing but is susceptible to smudges if exposed to high humidity or liquid.
    4. Silkscreen: This has long been the industry standard for on disc printing of replicated discs. It involves a thick layer of ink poured onto a stencil with the excess scraped off, forcing the remaining ink through the holes in the stencil to create the image on the surface of the disc.
    5. Offset: This is the highest quality on-disc print process available. It is a widely used printing technique where the inked image is transferred (or “offset”) first to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface.
  • Understand the printing process used for your printed material. Gang-run Printing: This is the most common process used in our industry. It is an offset printing process, which allows for multiple titles to print on a press at the same time. Exact color matching is not possible using this process and therefore you must allow for some variation. The final result should be a product that is overall pleasing in tone and free from blemishes.

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Tony Tyler is the founder and President of Play-It Productions (, 212-695-6530), a New York City based company providing comprehensive products and services to those individuals and companies that choose CD and DVD as a means of content distribution. Play-It Productions has been in business for nearly 16 years and is a full service facility, offering turnkey solutions from conception to completion including Audio Mastering, Voice-Over Recording, DVD Authoring, CDRom Programming, Graphic Design, and Printing, along with our core competency of Disc Duplication and Replication.

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