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DMN Interview: CustomFlix Expands Services

Offers new "Build-Your-Own" DVDs By Charlie White

John Geyer, Vice President of Marketing for CustomFlix, talks to DMN's Charlie White about the company's new service, "Build-Your-Own" DVD, where customers can pick and choose clips and build a DVD custom-tailored to their individual tastes. He also explains how the on-demand DVD service offered by CustomFlix is making life a whole lot easier for producers and filmmakers of all kinds.

DMN: Whats new with CustomFlix? For readers who arent familiar with your service, tell us how it works.

John Geyer, CustomFlix Vice President of Marketing: CustomFlix is a one-stop shop for video producers who want to bring their title out on DVD.  Not only do we offer excellent pricing and quality on traditional DVD duplication, DVD replication, DVD authoring and fulfillment services, we also enable producers to sell titles on-demand. For under fifty bucks, CustomFlix provides an end-to-end, on-demand publishing service that removes all of the barriers that stand between producers and selling their DVDs. Producers wanting to sell copies of their work just send us a DVD or tape.  We digitize it and get it onto our servers. I think most of your readers would send us a DVD thats great. Once graphics are uploaded, we create a feature page an online e-store that includes a 60-second streaming trailer. It can be used stand-alone or be customized and integrated directly into your existing website.   CustomFlix promotes the video on Amazon, Yahoo, Froogle and our Video Shop.  Based on a pay-as-you-go model, when buyers purchase, we produce and ship on-demand.  CustomFlix handles all customer service, 24/7 online reporting, and distributes monthly profits.  We just rolled out a ?Build-Your-Own service that allows audiences to pick-and-choose short form content for custom compilation DVDs.  Our first major partner is AtomFilms who is using this service to make available their award-winning short films on DVD.

DMN: I do want to ask you about your AtomFilms arrangement, which was your big announcement today (Nov. 16, 2004), and well get to that later in the interview. But first tell us how youre a fulfillment house for other Web sites as well.

Geyer: Absolutely.  We are a one-stop-shop for anyone who wants to make, distribute and sell DVDs.  In addition to our on-demand service, CustomFlix also handles traditional replication and fulfillment services. The free online e-store we provide comes in very handy.  Producers that have existing inventory can send it to CustomFlix and use the free e-store we provide to handle sales.   For those producers who use CustomFlix for DVD replication we offer a great discount on fulfillment charges. 

DMN: Because CustomFlix on-demand publishing eliminates inventory producers that who dont use it might make a mistake and have too many or too few?

Geyer: Thats right.  On-demand publishing eliminates all of the costs associated with inventory.  It lets producers test the market and see how sales are going before shelling out their hard-earned cash.  Producers tend to just look at the replication cost and forget about fulfillment charges.  Our on-demand pricing typically works out to be superior to traditional replication and fulfillment. Charlie, you should come to see our warehouse. We have some people who get caught up in making their video and are rightfully very excited. Hey, they think that this is going to be the best video thing ever and make optimistic sales projections.  I sympathize, as Ive been there myself. So people buy a thousand or thousands of DVDs and VHS, because they need to offer both and our warehouses sit full of unsold product that didnt sell as well as predicted.  A one-month on-demand trial would have saved them thousands of dollars. 

DMN: That can be quite costly, including the cost of all those unsold disks, too. Its way more expensive than just having the on-demand service.

Geyer: Yes. The low per-unit cost that producers see when they go the replication route is true only if they sell every copy.  However, sell only 50% of your inventory and bang they are paying double per DVD.  We always advise our customers to go on-demand for the first month or two. If sales go through the roof, switch to traditional replication.  As a one-stop-shop, we can handle getting the DVDs made, warehoused, and shipped.

DMN: You mention traditional replication, thats not a DVD-R? Whats the difference there?

Geyer: When you replicate, youll get a DVD-5, DVD-9 or DVD-10, depending on the application instead of a DVD-R.  

DMN: Whats the difference?

Geyer: A DVD-R is a gold disc that you burn from a computer.  Theres been concern that these can have compatibility issues in some players. A DVD-5, DVD-9, DVD-10 are silver discs.  Theyre the kind you see at Blockbuster.  These offer region coding, copy protection like Macrovision and CSS, have full compatibility and in the case of a DVD-9 or DVD-10, allow you to get roughly twice the amount of video onto one disc.  The downside if youre selling your film is that youll have to buy 1000 DVDs to get into the game which will set you back about $2,000 once you include shipping and other charges.

DMN: Those are more commercial-grade DVDs, that will certainly play on every DVD player, right?

Geyer:  Yes, but I think there are a myriad of ways to create a DVD-R with playback problems.  A label instead of ink directly to the DVD face, wrong bit-rate and cheap media are more of the common problems contributing to playback problems.  At CustomFlix, weve shipped hundreds of thousands of DVDs to paying customers and see well over a 99.5% success rate.  We also guarantee all of the DVDs we make. CustomFlix has tweaked the system to maximize playback compatibility.  After all, our CTO, Darren Giles, was the guy who wrote Media Cleaner Pro.  In conjunction with Jim Taylor, Ralph LaBarge and other top industry gurus, Darren and CustomFlix just released the Top 10 DVD Authoring Nightmares guide.  It is free to readers and available from our site.   

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Related Keywords:John Geyer, CustomFlix, Charlie White, Build-Your-Own DVD, on-demand DVD service, producers, filmmakers


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