We are going to talk about various topics around CD DVD duplication and replication. From the design, mastering, duplication and pacakging.

Monday, August 04, 2008

CD DVD duplication process video


Monday, July 21, 2008

Can you dupicate DVD-9?

There is a difference between DVD-9 and double layer DVDR - DVD-9 is the dual-layer DVDs that are replicated (pressed). Double layer DVDR are actually a blank DVD media that contains 2 layers.

With double layer blank DVDs (abbreviated as DL DVDR here) it allows longer videos to be placed on a single DVD. Is it possible to duplicate a DL DVDR like a regular single layer DVD? While DL DVDR has been around for a little while, there are not many choices in the brand of media, and some media tend to have compatibility issues in older players. We would suggest against making mass duplication of a DL DVDR master; instead opt to compress the entire disc to a single layer DVD for DVD duplication, or split the content onto a 2-disc set.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What is an acceptable format of audio CD for duplication?

Audio files come in many formats today, there is the most common mp3, mp4, and also the AIFF and WAV. Which one is the best format for CD duplication and CD replication? Let's start with talking about the different file formats that can be used to create an audio CD:
MP3 and MP4 are compressed formats that are most popular with online downloads, however not the best choice and quality for duplication and replication.

AIFF is commonly used on Macs and is an uncompressed audio file format that provides excellent sound quality.

WAV is a comparable format that is mostly used on PCs, still an uncompressed audio file format and tends to be large in size.

Therefore, making an audio CD master from AIFF and WAV will preserve the best sound quality. When making a CD master we should always burn as an audio CD, not data CD. Most CD burning softwares today will convert the mp3, AIFF or WAV into an audio CD format when it is set up as an 'audio' CD. An 'audio' CD will play in any home, car stereo and computer, while a 'data' CD containing MP3, AIFF or WAV files will only play in computers and stereos that are equipped to play audio files.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Saving CD disc image using Toast

The safest way to send CD audio or CD-Rom content electronically for CD replication is by disc image. A disc image is a copy of a CD all wrapped in one file. Instead of sending the individual songs or tracks all you'll be sending is one file. Once the image file is created, it is best to zip it using Winzip or Stuffit before it is transferred electronically to a FTP.

Here's the step by step on how to do that in Toast (the version we have in this example is Toast 7)

1. First burn a CD and verify the contents are correct.

2. If all is correct insert the CD into the CD-Rom, open Toast

3. Click on Copy tab, Click on File menu and select Save as Disc Image


4. For audio CDs the file extension will be .sd2f, data content CD file extension will be .toast

5. Zip the file using Stuffit or other utility tools for upload

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Why do I need a DVD replication check disc?

A replication check disc is "pressed" with the actual DVD replication press, and it is created with the same glass master that will be use to press the rest of the project.

It is the only safe way to proof a replicated CD/DVD, because all the CD-R or DVD-R that we can create from computer & recorder are "burned", which is a different process than replication, in which the discs are pressed. A check disc is especially important to check the layer break of a DVD-9 project

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What is a DVD replication check disc?

A replication DVD check disc is "pressed" with the actual DVD replication press, and it is created with the same glass master that will be use to press the rest of the project.

It is the only safe way to proof a replicated CD/DVD, because all the CD-R or DVD-R that we can create from computer & recorder are "burned", especially if you are concern with the layer break of a DVD-9 project.

It will however delay the overall production time for a few days.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Checklist to sign off a DVD master for replication

Before you hand off your DVD for DVD replication, an important step is to sign off on the DVD master, these are just some of the essentials to look for:

  • Platforms: Check the DVD master on as many platforms as possible, in a set top player (new and old, different brands), and on both Mac and PC. Never test the DVD master on a computer only, as it tends to be more "forgiving" as far as compatibility goes
  • TV standard: check whether the title is NTSC or PAL on a TV set, a computer will play both PAL and NTSC
  • Menu: it should starts up properly, all menu buttons should be functional, check for general flow of navigation
  • Aspect Ratios: Make sure that the aspect ration look acceptable on both a 16:9 and 4:3 tv
  • Video: Make sure that the quality is up to expectation, play it all the way through and look for skips and freezes
  • Audio: Check for audio levels throughout the video and make sure it is acceptable

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What is the difference between PAL and NTSC?

PAL and NTSC are television standards that are used in different parts of the world. United States is a NTSC country while most of Europe and Asia are in PAL. What does that really mean? Well if you bring a DVD or tape from overseas, chances are it will not play in the US. The reason is NTSC DVD players are not compatible with PAL discs. You will need to convert the footage from PAL to NTSC in order to view it. On a contrary, most PAL DVD players in Europe or Asia play NTSC discs, so if you need to send someone overseas a DVD there is usually no need to convert to PAL.

If your DVD was authored overseas, there is a possibility that it is in PAL format.

One important note is that all computer-based (PC and MAC) DVD players will play both PAL and NTSC discs. If you are QC'ing a disc on a computer, you won't know whether it is NTSC or PAL because it will play both! ALWAYS QC your work on both computer and set-top DVD player.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

What is ISRC Code?

The ISRC is a unique international identifier for sound and/or music video recordings. An ISRC is required to sell music through a digital retailer – iTunes, Napster, eMusic, and the like.

The code is encoded at the mastering stage of the recording. In the case of music videos, the ISRC appears in the time clock for all analog formats and on the label outside of the box. The code is also included in the metadata when a song or video is delivered to a digital retailer.

This serves as a “fingerprint” for the song and plays a crucial role in tracking song sales and royalty collection.

Membership is free, and a log of outgoing codes must be kept in case of request from the RIAA. Membership form:


Digital distributors including CD Baby and Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) do provide ISRC codes to their clients at no additional charge.

Click here to know about other online music tips such as UPC barcode, gracenote.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Silkscreen vs offset printing on CD / DVD

Silkscreen and offset printing are the method of printing for large run CD/DVD replication. Is one better than the other? That depends on the artwork. See the 2 examples here:

offset dvd print samlesilkscreen CD sample

The one on the top is offset and the bottom one is silkscreen. Offset printing is best used on photographic images and any artwork that does not have areas of solid colors. Offset printing gives photos a detailed and realistic look.

On the other hand, silkscreen is best for solid colors such as the example here. The colors are vibrant and consistent throughout. For setting up artwork for silkscreening you need to use Pantone colors (or sometimes called PMS colors) and vector art is preferred.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What is CD DVD artwork template?

Many customers ask for the dimension of the CD or DVD disc and the dimension of the cover so they can work on the CD or DVD design. An artwork template simply provides with you all the information you need. It shows the actual dimension of the printed piece, with trim line as well as bleed.

One can use graphic programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator to use the template, however they are not the only way. Using the templates allow the designer to see how the art will come together and to make sure all the elements are designed according to specs.

However if you do not own these software you could still create your own design. Many burning software come with a label/cover design program with preloaded templates and will let you create simple CD DVD label and package without much technical knowledge on graphic design. When you are finished, the key is to export the final files to a non-proprietary format such as jpg, pdf or tiff so we can place it on our CD DVD design templates.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How to avoid rush fee for CD DVD duplication?

You might have been there before: you're getting the DVD master today and you need to duplication a couple hundred of them in a day. How to duplicate them without paying a huge rush fee?

The short answer is: get the project started as soon as either the DVD master or artwork ready

There are 2 basic steps in dvd duplication - the actual duplication of DVDs and the printing of the disc face. There is no particular order which step that should happen first. This means that we can be working on DVD burning while waiting for the disc face artwork to be designed, or we can pre-print the disc face while waiting for the DVD to be authored. There is no need to wait till both components to start the job. This will save you significant time and everyone will be a happy camper.

For DVD replication - the steps are more complicated, but the principals are essentially the same. There is no need to wait for both the artwork and DVD master to 'officially' begin dvd replication. If the artwork is ready, submit it first and get the proofs underway; more importantly if the CD/DVD master is ready, the stamper can be made while the artwork is still being finalized. This way will save you valuable time and money.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 18, 2006

How to read a replication / duplication quote

With so many replication / duplication companies out there right now, almost everyone shops around before making a final decision. When comparing quotes from different companies, there are several things to look out for to make sure you are comparing apples with apples. All too often customers are receiving quotes that are in reality completely different things. In order to make an informative decision, read the quotes carefully:

1. No of colors on-disc printing
Almost all projects require full color printing these days. If your disc design calls for full color images or illustrations make sure the quote includes 'offset printing' and 'full color'. Simply '3-color silkscreen' is not the same. Silkscreen printing does not print well for images and the low-resolution produces pixels and lines. Many customers ended up paying extra to 'upgrade' their printing to offset in the middle of production. So avoid the troubles ask for offset printing.

2. Over-runs
In manufacturing we always produce extra discs and inserts to avoid any shortages on the final count of of units produced. Discs that do not pass QC tests and inserts that are torn are thrown out. In general 10% more are produced. Therefore at the end there are usually more actual units produced than ordered. Many companies charge customers on these over-runs, for example, on an order of 1000 cds, if 1050 cds are actually produced, customer will be paying for 1050 cds, not 1000. Find out if over-runs are included in the quote.

3. Packaging options
If your project requires cases and packaging, make sure they are included in the quote. The most common packaging option is amaray case, jewel case, custom-printed jacket, mailer and wallet. There is also generic paper sleeves, slim jewel case, cardboard mailer etc. If it does not require any packaging it is called bulk discs. Look for these exact terms in the quote, if you are not sure find out. Dfferent packaging can cause many, many price differences.

4. Shipping cost and time
Normally shipping cost and time is not included in the quote. So do not assume that the price includes shipping to your location or turnaround time includes shipping. Many customers find out at the end and are forced to upgrade shipping.

Every company has its own terminology and pricing structure, that is why it's so important to read the quotes carefully so you can make an intelligent choice. The time spent will be very well paid off!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Are DualDiscs Doomed?

As I have reported a couple weeks ago on the new format 'DVD album' by Warner Music. According to Medialine, DualDisc is quickly losing heat among consumers, and has failed to gather interest in packaged media purchase.

Even though a number of titles are still being scheduled for release, it's quite obvious that DualDisc is not sought after by either consumers nor record labels.

Interestingly enough, many consumers that purchased DualDiscs are not aware that they are buying a DualDisc, they thought they were buying a regular CD. Just compare the amount of media coverage DualDiscs got with HD-DVD/Blu-ray. It's not wonder why most people are still unaware of this media format.

Since the last few CD-alternatives have pretty much not been very successful, I think if the new 'DVD album' has a lot of hurldes in the near future.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Music you can watch on DVD

According to a report on the Wall Street Journal, Warner music, the 4th largest music company, is in the final stage of developing a new audio format on DVD. This new format, 'DVD album', contains a bundle of music, video footage and other extra features. DVD-audio quality tracks and video will be played on DVD players, while other extra DVD-Rom features can be played on computers.

Media analysts are hardly excited about this new format, and we could see why. DualDiscs, DVD-Audio etc have all been disappointments, but the bottom line is, it could not hurt the industry. On the other hand, retailers are desperately waiting for the CD replacements and welcome anything that gives customers reasons back to the record stores.

From the way that it sounds, there is one major issue with this new format. First off, it does not play on CD players. The DVD album contains a separate set of tracks, of lower quality, ready to be burned onto a CD. Who wants to keep two discs of the same album so that they can play both in the car and DVD player?

A number of titles will be available in October. So we will wait and see how this will pan out. This should spur a new wave of re-releases and collectors editions.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Money and time saving tips for DVD replication

Most people might think that all DVDs are created equal, so why not find the cheapest place you can find? The truth is, not all DVDs are created equal. Never ever just go for the company with the lowest price quote. It cannot be more wrong. The list below serves as a guide on how to find professional duplication / replication services at a reasonable price.

  1. One-stop-shop: By doing the authoring, package design, duplication / replication in one place, you can negotiate a packaged deal, which will in turn save money. Keeping it all in one place will also cut down significant time in shipping and communication back and forth.

  1. Get referrals on services: when you are in a time-crunch, the tendency is to go with the first or cheapest company that you can find. Ask around for referrals because with time and financial constraint, you have less room to risk for errors.

  1. Go local: Working with a company cross country can be quite frustrating because of time zones and shipping times. In a time-critical job, it’s better to work with a local company who you can contact and meet face-to-face. Any problems can be resolved faster if you are just a few miles away. Keep in mind that most replication quotes do not include shipping time and charge.

  1. Trust the pros: It might save you a few hundred dollars to author the DVD yourself, or have your roommate do it. Keep in mind that professional authoring houses and replicators do this day in and day out, what they can do in a few days without errors may take you longer to complete. A DVD not properly authored causes more damages than the money you save. This might be the worst decision you can make in order to save money.

  1. The artist’s touch: Find someone trustworthy with print experience to design your packaging may make all the difference in retail sales. It is the first thing customers see even before opening the DVD. Make your product stand out among all the competitors. The payoff will definitely be worth the cost. Also remember that a web design may not do well in print and vice versa.

  1. Proof again and again: It takes time whenever changes are to be made to the master and artwork when it is already in production. Printers often charge for additional print proofs and additional stamper is needed if a problem is found in check disc. Either case it delays the schedule and increase the overall project cost. So do yourself a big favor, before you send everything off to the replicator, check all materials thoroughly.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Secret to planning a DVD authoring replication project

So here let me give you an insight of the sometimes long process of getting a DVD made. Many of our clients are first-timers and often do not have a clear understanding of what's involved in the DVD authoring/replication process. This is a typical and realistic timeline of what goes on:

2-3 months prior:
- shop for a DVD replication / authoring vendor. The reason to start this early is that replicators can tell you exactly what they need as the master. It affects who you use for authoring and how much it is going to cost. It's also good to get a general idea of the time needed for replication. The specs for every project is different, therefore getting a replicator involved early and having a good account rep will help you save time and money.

2 months prior:
- finishing up with the editing to the final version of the video
- make the final decision on DVD authoring and replication vendor
- determine the specs for DVD authoring: types of menu, number of menus, menu design, video sources, music, DVD-ROM content
- general rule of thumb, the longer the video and more complex the menus are, the longer authoring will take
- start design process for DVD packaging (label and amaray case cover)

7 weeks prior:
- get a first draft of DVD menus to view navigation, revise as needed
- video components are being encoded

6 weeks prior:
- first edition of authored disc with video content is created (if menus have been approved)

5 weeks prior:
- continue with fine-tuning content and navigation
- continue with design for DVD packaging

4 weeks prior:
- finalize DVD content
- generate DVD master, review thoroughly and give final approval
- let replicator know when DVD master is ready
- finalize DVD packaging, proof read thoroughly and get print-ready files

3 weeks prior:
- DVD master is submitted for replication
- DVD artwork is submitted for digital proofs
- review digital proofs thoroughly for die line, missing font and any typos
- stamper is being made by mastering department

2 weeks prior:
- receive DVD check disc from replicator
- DVD packaging is being printed
- approve DVD check disc after viewing from the same TV/stereo setup

1 week prior:
- DVD discs are pressed(molded) from stamper
- DVD label art is printed on discs
- DVDs are packaged into cases with covers

0 week:
The DVDs are finally READY to be shipped or picked up!
- also notice that I did not include shipping in this time line. Most replicators do not including shipping in their turn time. So if your products need to be distributed cross country, push the time line back at least a week.

I hope this helps you understand why the overall production process take longer than you might think. This is a typical timeline and it may vary from project to project. Each proof or check disc is needed to ensure no mistakes is made every step of the way. If there is any mistake, it will be a very costly one!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Copy protection: Is it worth your money?

Everyone in the industry, from the RIAA, record labels to individual filmmakers are trying to put a stop to illegal downloads and pirating of movies and music. It is no surprise that copy protection technologies are such hot topics among them. We are asked all the time, does it really work? Let's first talk about how to apply it.

Copy protection is usually applied in the DVD authoring stage, and requires a DLT (digital linear tape) to be submitted at the time for DVD replication. Nowadays most masters can be submitted as a DVD-R, but if you need copy protection DLT is stlll required, which means additional cost for generating a DLT. Some copy protection will incur a flat fee and some charge per disc, this also added to the total cost of replication.

Does it really work?
The rate that copy protection is hacked is faster than the blink of an eye. A true story that I've heard: someone incorporated copy protection onto his DVD, he was given a check disc to verify during replication, he could not copy it in anyway. However, by the time all his DVD were produced, he found a way to hack it. So you'll be the judge.

Are we doomed?
While it could be fairly easy for someone who is computer savvy to download or copy a disc effortlessly, for the rest of the population, copy protection is still somewhat effective. If you have the budget and concern, copy protection is still a good option and give you the peace of mind. Alternatively, invest in unique packaging, create a collector's edition for the DVD. Pirates rip movies, but they rarely can afford to copy the packaging too. Design a customized DVD box and inside packaging, give people some good reason to buy the DVD.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Is replication better than duplication?

This is probably the no. 1 most frequently asked question that I get. Many people think that they are the same and use these 2 words interchangeably. Some people say one but actually mean the other. It creates a lot of confusion because each method has its pros and cons. If you are trying to get a price and time estimate even at the same quantity you might get wildly different answers.

CD/DVD duplication (a.k.a burned CD/DVD) is the process to create the content using CD-R / DVD-R media. In other words, a duplicator is used to create or "burn" the source image to another pre-manufactured CD-R/DVD-R.

CD/DVD replication (a.k.a pressed CD/DVD) creates a glass master from a pre-mastered image. Stampers are subsequently created from glass master. The stampers will then be used to press the discs with injection molding made of raw polycarbonate plastic.

What's the big deal?
Now you might be asking, "So what's the big deal? So they are different process". A big deal if you ask me. Replication is the de facto process for higher quantity manufacturing, say 1000 pieces and up. With replication, there is usually a setup cost because stampers and films that need to be made. A longer production time is also expected, most stampers need the entire day to make. We get a lot of wows when clients hear about how long it takes to replicate discs, the truth is, it is a much more complicated process that requires careful quality control and monitoring. The more you make, the cheaper it is with replication.

Lower quantities (we call it short-runs) are mostly done with duplication. With this method the setup is much quicker, since all we will be using is a duplication tower. It is also more economical because of little to none setup cost. That is why companies are able to have a very low minimum (such as 10 or 50) with duplication. You will get your products much quicker, usually within a few days time, but you do pay a higher per unit price for each disc.

Is duplication lower quality than replication?
The short answer is no. The quality of the products is only as good as the original master. What most people are concerned with is the compatibility of discs with CD/DVD players. It is not the same as quality. Nowadays about 90-95% of players are compatible with CD-R/DVD-R, with the exception of Playstation and X-Box. Just remember, the key is to thoroughly test the original master, otherwise problems will still arise no matter which method you use.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Make a skip-free DVD master

Here's the burning question, how do you ensure the disc you made will not skip or freeze on playback? While there are no guarantees that a duplicated DVD-R will play on EVERY DVD player, here are a few pointers to ensure the highest percentage of compatibility:

1. Keep maximum bit rate under 7. Some older DVD players have troubles playing back DVDs with bit rates that are too high (>8). The average of 6 to 7 is optimal.

2. Do not use uncompressed audio files. Use compression format such as Dolby Digital Audio (AC3).

3. Burn your master at the lowest speed possible. Some DVD authoring program such as DVD Studio Pro does not allow lowering burn speeds. In that case build your project to a video TS folder, and burn it with Toast. The latest version of Toast 6 allows burning of video TS folder to DVD.

4. Use high quality DVD-R media. Taiyo Yuden, Ritek, Mitsui etc. Keep it well protected.

5. Do not use paper labels. If they are not applied properly it causes unbalance while spinning in the DVD player. The heat that is generated from playback might also melt the label, causing problem in the DVD player as well.

Final - most important step

All and all, if you have followed the above steps to create a master DVD, the most important step is to watch it, from start to finish. You will not believe how many clients of mine have missed this step. Do not depend on your replicator or duplicator to do the quality checking for you. After all, you are the creator of the project and no one knows the details better than you. The checks that are performed before duplicating or replicating is for unreadable sectors, incomplete data and physical damage of the disc. It has nothing to do with the quality of the video, audio levels and menu navigation. That is an important concept to keep in mind.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ready for more DVD formats?

Just as we are starting to be comfortable with the current DVD formats, there are more on the way! Here is a brief look at what we can expect next in the realm of DVD formats.


HD DVD (High Density Digital Versatile Disc) is supported by NEC, Toshiba, Sanyo and Microsoft. It is one of the front runners of the race for high-definition DVD.

The disc has a single layer capacity of 15 GB and a double layer capacity of 30 GB. One thing to note is the layer of a HD DVD has the same thickness as a conventional DVD, which is 0.6mm. What is the significance you might ask? It allows replication facilities to use some of the existing equipment to manufacture the new discs. HD DVD players will also be able handle both conventional and HD DVD. HD DVD players will also use some of the same technology as existing DVD layers. All of these give HD DVD an edge over competitor Blu-Ray with its significant cost advantage.

Microsoft has announced that XBOX 360 will support HD DVD, but not for the launch for later this year. It will ship with a conventional DVD drive, and when HD DVD format is ready, it will be incorporated in the game console.

Blu-ray DVD

Backed by Sony and Philips, a Blue-ray DVD will fit 25 GB on a single layer, 50 GB on a double layer. It will also include support for multi-layer discs, which allows up to 200 GB of storage in the future. A 25 GB disc will store approximately about 2 hours of high definition video footage.

Blu-ray DVD is so called because it uses a "blue" laser operating at a shorter wavelength than a conventional and a HD DVD. The result is a disc of higher density and thinner layers.

The thinner layers pose both pros and cons to the new format. It requires brand new manufacturing equipment but it allows for its higher capacity of data.

The anticipated Sony Playstation 3 will ship with a read-only Blu-ray disc drive. Both new formats are backed by major film studios. Sony Pictures, MGM, 20th Century Fox and Disney have so announced support for Blu-ray, while HD-DVD has New Line Cinema, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers as backers.


Universal Media Disc (UMD) is a proprietary format developed by Sony for the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP). It is 65 mm in diameter and holds up to 1.8 GB of data. It can store up to 2 hours of DVD quality video. As of this time blank media of this format is not available for piracy reasons. The UMD comes in a protective cartridge and is able to store games, videos and music.

Dual Disc

"DualDisc" is a two sided disc which is a DVD on one side of the disc and non-DVD (which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a CD side) on the other side of the disc. Sounds like a great concept doesn't it? It however has its own shares of troubles. Officials at Philips Intellectual Property & Standards (IP&S) which licenses the Compact Disc or CD format, have refused to license the CD logo to companies making or releasing Dual Disc products on the grounds that they do not meet the Compact specifications. The non-DVD side of the dual disc will hold up to 60 minutes of audio, and the DVD side is a single layer DVD.

Because of this limitation, a few CD players manufacturers have provided some guidance to questions regarding dual discs. Mostly the non-DVD side of dual discs is not guaranteed to play due to the specification issues with Compact Disc.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

DVD disc face design

Offset vs Silkscreen Printing

Offset printing is the industry standard for "full-color" printing. The technique or process prints all 4 colors as miniature dots in precise closeness to each other. The size of each dot and its relation to the other dots is what provides the finished look of colors and tones. Offset printing is usually at 175-200 line per inch, producing detailed "true-to-life" images.

Back in the days all CDs and DVDs were printed with silkscreen technique. The artwork is converted to screens and ink is pressed through the screens onto the CDs and DVDs. The usual resolution of silkscreen printing is at 100 lines per inch.

Spot vs CMYK (process) Printing

In CMYK (Process) printing, colors on a printing press are created using a combination of four ink colors - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (called CMYK). These four inks are called process colors because they are the standard inks used in the four-color printing process. CMYK colors look best on offset printing while on silkscreen it will look grainy.

However if preciseness of colors is important to you finished products, spot color printing is recommended. Spot color is one that is printed in its own ink. It is most commonly specified by the Pantone Matching System (PMS). In this case the cost of producing such films will depend on the number of spot colors used. Therefore, spot color printing is most economical for a small number of colors. Spot colors look balanced and is true to its color throughout the disc face for artwork with mostly solid patterns.

What is white flood?

Also called white base or white mask. A White Flood is the coat of ink that is applied first to a disc face print. This flood-coat is often used with 4-color process printing. A CD/DVD is originally reflective silver in color. The White flood-coat acts as a base-coat or primer for the colors printed on it, recreating the effect of printing on White paper. Without the flood-coat background, colors may not be as bright or vibrant as they would print with the darker Silver background.

If the design calls for silver background to show through some part of the design, the white flood can be omitted.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Worst woes for a first time producer (part 3): Preparing the art

What is Bleed?
A bleed is the area that will be cut off from the print to prevent the final artwork from having white edges. When scanning images, keep the bleed in mind so you do not have to force a bleed by resizing an image. This will inevitably cause a loss of sharpness and make the pixels more apparent.

What is a White Flood?
Also called white base or white mask. A White Flood is the coat of ink that is applied first to a CD face print. This flood-coat is often used with 4-color process printing on CDs. A CD is reflective Silver in color. The White flood-coat acts as a base-coat or primer for the colors printed on it, recreating the effect of printing on White paper. Without the flood-coat background, colors may not be as bright or vibrant as they would print with the darker Silver background.

What does CMYK mean?
Colors on a printing press are created using a combination of four ink colors - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (called CMYK). These four inks are called process colors because they are the standard inks used in the four-color printing process. Your artwork must be in CMYK format (as opposed to RGB) before submitting.

What is offset printing?
Offset / process printing, sometimes referred to as 4-color process or CMYK printing is the technique of printing with 4 standard colors; CMYK: Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black. This industry standard for "full-color" printing allows for near "true-to-life" color printing. The technique or process prints all 4 colors as miniature dots in precise closeness to each other. The size of each dot and its relation to the other dots is what provides the finished look of colors and tones. Most full-color brochures, magazines, newspapers, and yes, CD packaging and CDs are process printed. When process printing is not required, Pantone colors are specified.

What is silkscreen printing?
Silkscreen printing is a process whereby the artwork is converted to screens and ink is pressed through the screens onto the CD or DVD. The average resolution of silkscreen printing is 85-135 lines per inch (lpi).

Can I change an image from 72 dpi to 300 dpi?

If you are using Photoshop, just keep in mind that it cannot invent detail that isn't there. Example, increasing an image of 5"x5" @ 72 dpi to 300 dpi does not enhance its quality and detail. Photoshop merely scales up the image to 300 dpi, it samples the dots around it and adds the additional pixels as a mix of the colors next to it.

The best way is to create or scan the images @ 300dpi or greater, so you are not depending on Photoshop to re-invent.

Should I submit fonts that are used in artwork?
Artworks files that are being submit must include all fonts used, including any that are embedded in placed EPS files. Or have all text outlined in the EPS files.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Worst woes for a first time producer (part 2): Preparing the master

It might be trivial to write about this. However a master that is poorly prepared and kept is indeed a waste of time and effort! So, we have to at least talk about it once.

How to burn the master?

Use a high quality media. A reputable brand DVD goes a long way. Maxell, TDK, Ritek, Taiyo Yuden and Mitsui, to name a few, are trusted brands that we recommend.

Handle your media carefully, even blank ones. The disc has to be lint, fingerprint free before recorded on.

When burning the master it is best to keep it at low speeds. Even if you are capable of burning 8x, keeping it slow on the master will ensure data accuracy.

Forms of master

There are 2 forms of acceptable master, DVD-R and DLT (Digital Linear Tape). Back in the days DLT was the only acceptable format of master. Nowadays most replicators will take DVD-R as well. There are pros and cons to both formats. DLT tapes are more durable, reliable and therefore considered a low-risk format.

DVD-R in general is more fragile, easy to scratch and not capable of storing CSS, region code, Macrovision and other copy protection data. A common problem with DVD-R is the existence of unreadable sectors. They can be caused by bad media, burner problems and mishandling. DVD-R is increasingly popular because it is widely available, cheaper and can be tested on DVD players.

Testing? What testing?

The DVD has been testing in simulation mode, and a master has been carefully burned. The replicator will do the rest right? Well, before you send it off, it is crucial that you do final testing on the master. Play it on your home/office DVD player, from start to finish. Try all menus and buttons. Make sure navigation, video and sound are what you expect. Play it on your computer DVD player as well if you have one. Replicators do not assume any responsibility if the master sent has defects that are unrelated to mastering and replication process.

If you are unsure how your master will turn out as replicated, ask for a check disc from the replicator. Check discs are usually free. The extra couple of days it takes to create the check disc will give you peace of mind and reduce the risk of spending thousands of dollars on a faulty master.

Sending the master

Finally you are near the end of the tunnel, the master has been carefully created and tested. Make sure when it is sent out, it is securely protected. Use a paper sleeve, jewel case or amaray box to hold the DVD. A physically damaged or scratched DVD can cause unreadable sectors and you will end up sending in duplicate masters.

If there is more than one master, store them in separate boxes. NEVER send your only copy of the master! Always save a copy for yourself. If the master disc does get damaged during transit, you will not be left with re-creating the master all over again!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Worst woes for a first time DVD producer (part 1): encoding

How much can you fit on a DVD?
DVD video quality is measured in terms of kbit/s. Since there is a finite number of bits you can store on a DVD, if the video is longer, you cannot store as many bits per second. In plain English, when creating DVD, keep in mind that for a DVD-5 will fit up to 90 minutes of DVD quality video. If you have more than 90 minutes of footage, consider doing a double DVD-5, one DVD-9 or editing down to 90 minutes. Otherwise you will be sacrificing the video quality.
To determine the optimal bit rate for the video, try the bit rate calculator at www.videohelp.com/calc.htm.

Bit Rates: is higher the better?
Let's say your video is only 15 minutes long, and you are thinking about encoding it at the maximum bit rate. Should you do it? The answer is NO. The maximum bit rate is not necessarily better. We suggest encoding at no higher than 8 megabits per second. Certain DVD players might not be able to handle videos that are encoded with too high of a bit rate. So higher is certainly not better.

Can encoding improve quality?
You want to make a collage of video clips on DVD from VHS tapes that were created from years ago, now you are onto encoding. Would the encoding improve the quality of the video? NO. Encoding is simply the process to convert the video to digital format. It does not improve the quality. So the fading and flickers that exist on the tapes will still be there on the DVD. The same goes for other formats.

DVD Movies on Mini

If you are somewhat familiar with the different DVD formats, you should have heard about mini DVDs. So why are we taking about it as the new standard? It is because you will (or already have) see them more than ever from now on.

Coming Soon: Movies on mini DVD
As most of you are aware, mini DVDs are often used for promotional materials such as movie trailers, short presentation, personal or company portfolios, marketing packages etc.

Gone are the days when movies are only on 5" regular size DVDs. Several major studios, including Warner Brothers, are releasing feature length videos on mini DVDs. The front runner in this new trend, Warner Brothers has 30 titles since its launch in December 2004, and is expected to have 100 titles on mini DVD by spring 2005.

The Scoop
The question you might have by now is how you would fit a movie on a mini DVD. Well, it will not fit on 1 mini DVD. It will most likely be 2 dual layer mini-DVDs. A mini DVD will fit up to half an hour of DVD quality video, while a dual layer will fit up to 60 mins of video. This is an average figure and the actual amount of content fit depends on the sound, video quality, complexity of menus, subtitles and languages.

As far as the DVD players, a smaller version of portable DVD player is available for mini DVDs. Of course, they can also be played on regular set top players and computers. There are a few mini DVD players out in the market now - Samsung and Cyberhome to name a few. More is sure to come.

Videos on the go
Mini DVD is 3 inches in diameter. It is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, a shirt pocket or purse. The launch of movies on mini DVD will encourage consumers to take their videos on the go. DVDs are no longer only for home or office viewing, they can be taken on the road – a great companion to other portable devices.

As a DVD professional or producer, when it comes to producing new materials on DVD, consider the versatility of mini DVDs. Its lightweight and creative packaging options might give you an edge over your competitors.

Did you know?
The company
LidRock, uses a mini CD/DVD with promotional videos to fit under a soda lid. It brings the latest music, movie and games to stadiums, movie theaters, restaurants etc.

Friday, January 07, 2005

DVD Formats and Standards

In the world of DVDs, there are many coexistent formats and standards. Here we highlight a few of the most frequently asked questions:

What is a DVD-R and DVD+R?
They are two main formats in DVD recordable technology. DVD-R came out first so it would appear that it has a greater compatibility among DVD players. DVD+R is quickly catching up and it has a similar compatibility. There is no main difference between the two formats, and most computer DVD burners are capable of burning both formats.

Is it true that a recordable DVD must be all region?
Yes. A DVD made with a computer DVD burner or a home recording device will be played in all DVD players all over the world. If region code is a must for your project, DLT tapes should be submitted as replication masters.

The video on DVD discs is formatted for one of the two mutually incompatible television systems, NTSC or PAL. NTSC is primarily used in United States, Mexico, Canada and Japan. PAL format is used in Europe and the rest of Asia. Most NTSC players do not play PAL discs. However, almost all DVD players in PAL countries will play both formats. If you have a project that will be distributed globally, make sure to consider these different formats.

One thing to note is that a computer DVD player will both NTSC and PAL formats.
If the budget allows, the optimal solution of course is to produce both NTSC and PAL versions. However, if one has to choose between the two formats, NTSC is probably the winning choice because of its wider acceptance among DVD players globally.

For those who prefer to have both NTSC and PAL versions of the video, there are two options: create 2 single layered discs or create 1 dual-sided disc. It is not possible to have both NTSC and PAL on the same disc because the DVD-Video specification disallow it.

DVD recordables vs Replicated DVD
The main difference between the two types of DVDs is the methods behind. DVD recordables are copied with lasers on DVD burners. Replicated discs are made with glass master and molded. For more information see our previous article on

DVD recordables work best for projects that require lower quantity, i.e., below 1000 pieces. It takes less time to finish however the cost per disc is significantly higher than replication. Replication is cost effective for a larger quantity, i.e., 1000 and up. The process is more reliable and controlled for higher quantity. Production time takes longer but cost per disc is much lower and printing quality surpasses DVD recordables.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Barcode, soundscan and videoscan

So now that you have received the free barcode from Hellman Production, how does it translate into tracking your CD or DVD sales?

UPC Barcode

A UPC barcode (Universal Product Code) is a unique 12-digit number that identifies your product, in this case it is a CD or DVD. The vertical lines on the barcode can be scanned through POS (point of sales) systems in most retailers out there today.


Nielson Soundscan (http://www.soundscan.com) is an information system that tracks the sales of music and music video products (Music DVDs included). Sales data is received from more than 17,000 retail, mass merchant and non-traditional (online, venues) outlets. Sales information is collected and compiled weekly and is available every Wednesday for subscribers.

Billboard magazine charts have been constructed directly from soundscan data. Soundscan data subscribes include almost EVERYONE in the industry, including record labels, magazines, newspapers, distribution companies, etc.


Nielson Videoscan (
http://www.videoscan.com) collects sales data weekly from traditional channels of video distribution including mass merchants, audio/video and video specialty retailers, electronics outlets, grocery stores, drug stores, and some Internet sites. Nielsen VideoScan maintains this weekly POS data in one of the largest databases of VHS and DVD products in the country.

Nielsen VideoScan's VHS and DVD sales charts are currently published in Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Store Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and others.


To register your title with soundscan/videoscan, simply fill out the title addition form on the soundscan website (
http://www.soundscan.com/register.html). It can be submitted by email to dbase@soundscan.com or faxed to (914) 684-5606. If you have received the barcode from Hellman Production, put us down as the parent label. Hellman Production does not get any money from the sales of your CD or DVD. It simply indicates where you got the label from. In the sub-label field, fill in your label name if you have one.

It will take about 10-15 business days for it to be processed, and that is all you need to do! Registering with soundscan and videoscan is FREE.

Tracking the sales

In order to review sales reports on your registered titles, you need to subscribe to the service. Nielson soundscan and videoscan provide different packages for their subscribers. The limited access package for smaller labels gives access to up to 20 titles. Full access lets subscribers see all title information in the database, as well as more types of reports.

Did you know?

- Soundscan now tracks permanent downloads such as iTunes, Listen.com, musicnet

Monday, November 01, 2004

DVD Video Copy Protection

Many now consider copy protecting their DVDs a crucial part of the project. It is equally important to understand how it works and the different options for the money to be well spent. So what is copy protection? How does it avoid piracy?

Content Scrambling System (CSS)

In this copy protection method, audio and video data on the DVD discs are encrypted with a specific key that can only be decrypted by DVD players authorized by the DVD CCA (DVD Copy Control Association http://www.dvdcca.org). Each title will have its unique encryption key. Most DVD players sold in the US are equipped with the ability to decrypt scrambled data.

CSS is carried out in the glass mastering stage of replication. During authoring, the CSS flag needs to be checked. For this reason, a DLT master should be submitted.

Macrovision Analog Copy Protection (ACP)

Perhaps the most effective means of copy protection, patented and developed by Macrovision, it boosts the ability to protect DVDs against being copied to VCR and DVD recorder. It causes recorders to make distorted copies, with no entertainment value. DVD CCA requires that all DVD playback and recorder devices sold in the US recognize ACP technology.

Clients needing Macrovision's ACP technology need to request it at the time of authoring. The ACP flag will then be added to the DLT master. The copy protected master will be replicated at the manufacturing facility. The clients will also be charged at a per disc basis, reportable to Macrovision.

The latest copy protection technology from Macrovision is RipGuard. According to Macrovision, it plugs the digital hole, which reduces ripping of DVD. This technology is fairly new, and right now it is unclear how many DVDs released have employed it.


CGMS is another copy control system. There are 3 copy states in this system: copy enable, copy once only and copy never. The states can be added during authoring. Currently this technology is not commercially patented and not enforced by DVD CCA. Few DVD players in the market have the technology to read these flags. It is somewhat ineffective because many playback and recorder device is not equipped to decode. Even if the DVD is flagged with 'Never Copy', it can still be copied.

Region Coding

DVDs can be region coded so that a US made DVD cannot be played in Asia, Europe etc. There are currently 6 regions, such codes are established to allow titles to be distributed in different parts of the world at different times.

The region codes are:
1: U.S., Canada, U.S. Territories

2: Japan, Europe, South Africa, and Middle East (including Egypt)
3: Southeast Asia and East Asia (including Hong Kong)
4: Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean
5: Eastern Europe (Former Soviet Union), Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea, and Mongolia
6: China

Each DVD player is given a region code and will only play discs that are coded with the same region. Discs can also be all-region; which means they will play in any DVD players around the world. Region coding does not apply to recordable DVDs. Therefore, DVD burned on a PC will be region-free.

Region code is not an encryption system, however it still needs to be set during authoring.


When deciding which copy protection to employ, consider the following:

- the DVD player standards where the DVDs will be distributed
- budget for copy protection; applying copy protection often times require paying an additional fee for replication, authoring and licensing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

What is Replication?

Replication is the process that transfers the data from the source master to CD or DVD discs. It's often talked about with 'Duplication', and it is a common misconception that they are the same. Here we'll try to reveal the mystery behind replication.

Pre-replication step

After the source master is submitted to the manufacturing plant, it is first checked for unreadable sectors. It could be the result of an incomplete DVD-R or CD-R. Without this verification steps you might end up with many faulty discs at the end.

Glass Mastering

When we talk about 'pressing' discs, the first step is to transfer data from the master onto a 'master mold'. In this case it is called a glass master. Laser beam is used to create pits or grooves onto a glass master. The spacing and length of the grooves are determined by data on the master.


You must heard of it before, but what is a stamper anyway? The glass master is used to create a stamper - the mold for the CD/DVD discs. Remember the grooves that are created in the glass mastering process? They are pressed against a nickel layer to become a stamper. The grooves are transferred onto the stamper which will eventually form part of a CD/DVD disc.

Molding the discs

With the stampers that are created, we're ready to mold the discs. Polycarbonate materials are molded with the grooves on the stampers to become a disc. DVDs require 2 layers of the polycarbonate discs, which is then bonded together. For CDs, a layer of lacquer is put onto the discs for protection.

Did you know?
- We create 10% more discs (overruns) in order to replace the ones that fail our quality assurance tests. That's why our customers will always receive 100% working CDs and DVDs.