Dealing with Mass Replicators

Burning multiple DVDs of the same project, one at a time, is tedious. Mass replication may be an appealing alternative.

These days working with a replicator is not all that difficult. Your finished project recorded to a DVD-R and some liner and/or DVD disc artwork is about all you need.


Creating DVDs takes more steps and is more complicated than creating CDs. Here's a barebones explanation:

The process involves coating a DVD-sized glass disc with light-sensitive material and then converting the data into laser pulses that create tiny scorch marks on the disc along a spiral track. Using several chemical and electrolyte baths, those tiny pockmarks are converted to a thin layer that when viewed through a microscope appears to be a bumpy wafer. It's placed in a very high-pressure molding machine that's injected with molten polycarbonate to create the DVD layers (two such layers for each DVD). A thin layer of reflective metal, such as aluminum, is added to each molded surface, and the plastic/metal sandwich is bonded and covered with a protective lacquer finish.

To ensure a smooth DVD replication process, here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Start by visiting the DVD Association Web site at It has a list of member replication firms. Many of these companies are mass replicators, meaning they deal with film studios and publishers, handling multiple orders annually for millions of copies. Few will touch an order of fewer than 1,000 discs. Don't let that discourage you. Contact a replicator from the list and ask whom they recommend for smaller orders.

  • If you want to make a single-side, single-layer DVD-5 disc, all you need is a DVD-R (or a DLT) to serve as a master.

  • For a double-sided, single-layer DVD-10, you'll need two DVD-R discs.

  • DVD-9 (single sided, double layer) and DVDs encrypted with the CSS copy- protection scheme need DLT masters.

  • Make sure you've tested your DVD-R master on a set-top DVD player. Click every menu and press all the remote buttons to make sure your DVD does what it's supposed to do before you send it off for duplication.

  • Your most difficult hurdle may be artwork. Most DVD replicators will give you artwork templates to use in various graphics programs to create your liner and DVD label art.

  • Make sure you proofread everything. And check your colors. Your labels may look dramatically different from one replicator to another.

  • Allow enough time for your project. From delivery of your master along with label artwork, expect to wait two weeks for completion of your order.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video