Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 11/02/04 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Pre-Packaged Recordable DVDs

DVD packaging service is a worksaver for busy videographers By Charlie White

In our recent report about the business of wedding videography, a common thread throughout was the near-universal acceptance of the DVD as a distribution format. But videographers have enough to do, with the shooting, editing and general coddling of their clients. What about the DVD packaging? Wont it take a lot of time to put together the cover art, the printed DVDs, and the insert material? We found a company in Chicago that takes care of all sorts of DVD packaging needs, and all you have to do is burn the DVD and hand it off to your client.

Chicago Digital Post is offering a new service it calls Pre-Packaged DVDs, or PPDVDs where you send the company the information youd like printed on the DVDs, along with up to seven photos or video grabs, and for $15 they print all the packaging, including the sleeve and on the DVD itself, and send it all back to you, ready to go. But thats just for the first copy its $9 for each additional package. Of course, if you order in bulk, the price is lower. For example, if you order 200 packages the price is $5 apiece. The twist here is that the printed DVD is a blank DVD-R disk (or DVD+R if you prefer), and you burn your video material onto it. The idea is, youve saved the time and effort of designing and packaging the DVD and all you do is burn the DVD and hand it over to the client.

On the companys Web site, you choose from a number of pre-designed graphic themes, and then your photos and text are added to the pre-designed backgrounds for a custom look. The graphics are laser-printed on semi-gloss inkjet paper, eliminating the possibility of the ink smearing. The DVDs are printed edge-to-edge using a thermal printing process, which approximates the silk-screen printing found on commercial DVDs. Chicago Digital Post sent us a box full of the various packages, and the quality of them is high enough for customers to believe they were commercially produced. But their quality isnt knock-your-socks-off fantastic, but variable, with some looking very good but others appearing to be decidedly pedestrian. We showed the packaging to other graphic designers who agreed that many of the packages giving a less-than-professional impression. However, the quality of the final product depends greatly on the caliber of photographs you present for inclusion on the DVD packaging a few of the examples we saw had too-dark photos or screen grabs that looked less than sharp or were poorly composed, so those problems diminished the overall quality of the graphics. You also need to be a stickler for spelling, because the people at Chicago Digital Post may not catch your errors. In the samples the company sent us, we found typographical errors, with the date on a DVD not matching the one on the cover, and misspellings (San Antonio was spelled ?San Anotnio on a DVD) in one place but not another. If this happens in the demo package sent to reviewers, which we think must have represented the closest of attention on the part of the company, that raises a red flag for everyday customers. 

In the choices of template topics, weddings are top of the list (see one of them in teh graphic below), with nine choices of backgrounds for your photos and text. In addition to weddings, there are a variety of types of event video supported by the choices on the Web site, including baseball and football games, graduations, religious events and others. The company sends you a digital version of the background you chose on your DVD packaging for your own use in authoring the menus on the DVD as well, a nice touch. And, if you make a mistake and burn a ?coaster the company will send you a replacement pre-printed DVD for $5. If you dont see anything you like in the templates offered, the company will custom-design your DVD packaging, charging an hourly rate.

Inside the DVD boxes we received were slips of paper warning customers that DVD-Rs (DVD+R are also available) may not play back in every DVD player, but as most wedding videographers know, this is the cost of doing business when youre producing DVD-Rs. When 88% of DVD players will play DVD-Rs, your odds are good that the finished product will play for your customers.

Summing up, this service, although overpriced, is a convenience for harried wedding videographers, and for others who have neither the time nor inclination to produce polished packaging themselves. Its quite an improvement over printing the name of the bride and groom on a stick-on label and handing it over to a nonplussed client. At $15 a pop, plus $9 for additional copies, videographers can pass that cost along to customers and avoid the time-consuming task of creating and assembling pro-level DVD packaging. For low-volume DVD production where its not necessary to have the very best, Id say it might be worth your while. If you have higher-volume duplication, fulfillment, or sophisticated graphics needs, go with a company such as CustomFlix that will also stamp out guaranteed-to-play DVDs and even ship them for you.

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Related Keywords:Chicago Digital Post, wedding videography, DVD, distribution format, videographers, shooting, editing, clients, DVD packaging, Pre-packaged recordable DVDs, review, Charlie White

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