Thursday, 4 August 2011

Tip #77: Making copies - Duplication versus replication

By Dan Parkes (Director/editor)

Once you have your official DVD master, you will then need to look at how to get copies made. You have three basic options available:

1. Personal or small run copies
As mentioned in the previous blog, rather than burning straight to DVD I recommend burning an image file (.img or .iso) of the disc first. Then you can use free software such as IMGburn (http://www.imgburn.com/) to both burn and verify (check) the disc. The reason for this is that when you need to burn extra copies you simply open IMGburn and burn the image file again, rather than opening your authoring software or having to insert the original disc and make a copy. The verification function ensures you are getting the exact same copy that has been checked for 100 % accuracy.

However this can end up being an expensive and time consuming option, especially if you also need to print out the DVD wrap (printed cover) and you may want to look at either duplication or replication for larger runs.

2. Duplication
For anything up to 500 copies duplication can be a good and cheap option. It is essentially the same as what you likely used to create your home burnt master disc, employing the use of purple dye discs which are "burned" (DVD-Rs). You can easily tell the difference between a duplicated disc and a replicated disc by turning it over and looking at the bottom surface: if it has a dark purple colour the same as the DVD-Rs you burn at home then it has been duplicated (while a replicated disc will be silver). The only difference is that the company the duplicates the disc probably used a duplication tower to do it in bulk. But the end result is the same: a DVD-R. A notable advantage is that quite often the turn around times are much faster than replicated discs.
3. Replication
This is most certainly the best option, especially for quantities above 500, as it creates the proper "stamped" DVD-5 or DVD-9, DVD-10 discs as you would buy commercially (not the purple dye DVD-R discs used for duplication). A “glass master” of your original disc is made which in turn "stamps" the data onto blank media. The disc is then printed and lacquered for protection. DVD-10 can offer a double-sided single layer which can hold up to 9.4GB of media (although in reality this is about 8.75GB) rather than the standard 4.3GB discs. However, due to the necessary glass master this can mean the turn around times are slower, although the per unit costs especially for large quantities is certainly a lot cheaper than replication.

But note that replication factories, due to their large commercial clients, can have various standards that have to be met before a DVD can be processed -which can be a hassle, although it does mean that you can be confident your DVDs are meeting industry standards!

Compatibility
There has been some who say that duplicated DVDs have more compatibility issues than replicated discs. However most modern playback devices now have no trouble with DVD-R discs due to their proliferation, as long as you ensure the DVD-R brand is reliable -I personally recommend Verbatim. Instead, the key issues now come down to PAL, NTSC and DVD region issues... which we will explore in the following blog.

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