Help me find professional looking CD/DVD Duplication @ home.
October 2, 2008 12:02 AM   Subscribe

I need to know some options about pressing my own albums and independent films at home instead of using a duplication company.

I'm starting a Record Label and Film studio. I've decided that instead of risking lots of money and having boxes of cds or dvds that I can't sell because most duplication companies have a minimum of 500 cds or dvds that I would just buy duplication machines and press everything myself. That way I can just do a run of 100 and if they don't sell then I'm not out as much money.

I'm hoping someone who has done this sort of thing can tell me what duplication machines are decent for this. Particularly if the ones that burn and print are good. Or should I buy the machines separate. Is thermal the good looking printing?

Also, the cd jackets are another problem. Is there a home printing machine that will print as good of quality as your professional major label cd jackets? Or do I need to hire out an offset printer or something else entirely?

Can you purchase pre cut paper if there is a home machine that will fit perfectly in jewel cases and dvd cases?

Any input is greatly appreciated.
posted by keepmathy to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
Wait, are you looking to press or to burn your CDs/DVDs? The economics of those are very different.
posted by hattifattener at 1:10 AM on October 2, 2008

I used to do a lot of my own DVD packaging and printing. While you CAN save money by going this route, I'd recommend against it in most situations. Here's a few reasons why:

1. TOTAL COST. When you total up the cost for all the items (i.e. a good quality printer or duplicator, CD/DVD packages, printer templates, ink, etc...) and compare that to the sale price of your item as well as time involved in duplication and packaging, your profit margin begins to look pretty meek if existent at all.

2. TESTING. It normally takes some trial and error to get the packaging and labels just the way you want them, so you're likely to waste X amount of materials in the process of trying to get things done right, thus further lowering your profit margin.

3. INCONSISTENCY. When you use consumer level printers and labels, you risk having an inconsistent look in your final product. You'll inevitably encounter the moment where you print 50 labels only to find out that 20 of them have ink smears or fading due to low ink levels in your printer.

4. QUALITY CONTROL. Mastering and duplicating DVDs/CDs at home can lead to quality control issues. The post-house I used to work for would require us to quality check (i.e. watch) every single DVD we sent out to ensure it was burned without error and I wish I had a dime for every time that saved my ass. Not to say that professional duplicators are without error, but when you do it at home it's your problem and your profit loss.

5. TIME. This is probably the biggest issue of all in my mind. It takes A LOT of time to do home duplication and packaging, and in business time equals money. The time you spend fussing around trying to get a template aligned properly or perforating and stuffing 200 DVD packages is time that you could be promoting your products or conducting other important business matters.

My recommendation to actually save you money is to pre-qualify your product in an effort to gauge interest BEFORE you spend the money to manufacture it. There are tons of ways to do this online through PPC advertising and lead captures on your website. Once you do some initial groundwork to judge the amount of interest in your product, you can then front the money for manufacture with a better idea of how many you're likely to sell.

If you really have the itch to go DIY, then I'd recommend getting a little creative with your packaging. For example, maybe use cheaper generic DVD/CD cardboard packs and use an ink stamp for the art work. Anything to keep it simple/unique and raise your margins up.

Hope that helps!
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 1:15 AM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Short-run DVD duplication services do exist, suitable for 10 to 500 disks.

Many such services will happily send you samples of the different production, printing and packaging methods they support.
posted by Mike1024 at 5:00 AM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: @ Hattifattner I am looking to make these DVDs as professional as possible.

I was looking at a rimage machine where you can load in a stack of DVDs and it will burn and then print on the top with thermal printing.
posted by keepmathy at 6:59 AM on October 2, 2008

I think you are better off with pressing through a proper CD/DVD production house.

You will easily find somewhere that can do 500 Cd, with full colour 4 page booklets, in Jewel cases, even w/ shrinkwrapped for <> total cost say <>
if you go the burner route, the places that usually do burnt Cds will charge about $5+ a unit so for the same price you get what 150CDs?

all the gear you need to buy, the hours spent on it all, nah... its too much trouble.
posted by mary8nne at 8:39 AM on October 2, 2008

If you want them to be "as professional as possible", don't burn them. It looks cheap and a burned DVD/CD doesn't last as long as a properly reproduced one does. DVDs I've bought that were burned ended up being pirated copies. (I didn't find out until I de-shrinkwrapped and opened the case). If I bought a DVD that was burned I would feel ripped off.

Unsolicited business advice:

DVD repro companies exist for a reason, use them! As you said in your original post, you're a "Record Label and Film studio" not a CD/DVD duplicator/replicator. Stay with your core business and hire the rest out. A short run of DVD's should be considered the cost of doing business. If you can't move 200 units, rewrite your business plan. There's a great economy of scale with CD/DVD replication, you can get a few thousand for not much more than a few hundred. (The set-up costs get you.) So get 1-2000, keep some to sell and give the rest away as promo items, reviewer copies, to everyone and their dog and their dogs blog. It's virtually free advertising!

posted by Ookseer at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2008

If you can't move 200 units, rewrite your business plan.

In my post I was initially going to say that if keepmathy doesn't have the money to cover a 500-disk production run he or she probably doesn't have the money to cover a DVD duplication machine. However, askmathy's other ask mefi question is about recording bands in what sound like quite small venues. If askmathy is making recordings of small/local bands the demand for DVDs may be small and/or unpredictable, but the demand could still be there.

My unsolicited business advice is: if you can't sell 200 disks you should make sure your business plan lets you make enough money to cover overheads like editing the video footage.
posted by Mike1024 at 3:29 PM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: A little clarification.

I'm planning on buying professional daisy chain duplicators and thermal printing machines. They look just like the ones on the diskmakers website and catalogs so I'm assuming they would be the same.

I have the money to put up for a run of a thousand dvds or cds, But I want to be able to keep doing this forever and be able to provide a service for smaller bands by being able to press for bands only what they can sell.

Is there any sort of home printing device that can print as well as I need? Or do I need to outsource this?

posted by keepmathy at 5:36 PM on October 2, 2008

Sorry for the snarky business advice, I didn't do my due diligence. Now to actually answer the question:

If you are doing a lot of very small runs and are okay with a certain home-made feel to them, then DIY is probably the way to go. However you're the only one who can answer if it "can print as well as I need." Call up manufactures and ask for samples. I like ISeemToBeAVerb's advice, espcially trying an alternative to printing, such as using a stamp or wrapping them in a foreign newspaper or in pages of old salvaged medical textbooks or something. Color reproduction on a home device is going to be...not great (And will cost you a lot in toner/ink). I'd experiment with black and white printing (or black on colored media) to produce something that is both striking and looks more professional when printed on a home device.

You might look into a print/duplicate on demand service. When you take into account materials (DVD + case + print ink) and labor (quality control, assembly) $5.00 per unit is very reasonable.
posted by Ookseer at 6:24 PM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: Actually, I think outsourcing the printing the way to go. I just to find a cheap printer in Portland or the Mid-Valley in oregon.

DVD duplication is going to be very expensive as we have 5 releases in as many months.
posted by keepmathy at 9:35 PM on October 2, 2008

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