Duplicating Blu-rays and DVDs is an important part of a successful video business. This story should help you choose the publisher best suited for your needs.
In order to have a successful event video business it is important to focus not only on weddings, but also on other events such as dance recitals, concerts, plays, graduations, birthdays and even funerals. People are willing to pay for a professional DVD copy of those events. Therefore, it is essential that we are able to make DVD copies quickly and efficiently. We'll explore the ways to duplicate your work and make it a consistent source of income.
Choices, Choices, Choices
When it comes to making disc copies you have three basic choices: one-at-a-time dubbing, hiring the duplication service out, or purchasing a good duplicator so you can copy many discs at a time.
Unless your disc burning tasks are done on rare occasion and the copying duties are small, we don't often recommend that you make dubs one by one, since it is quite time consuming.
Outsourcing dubbing tasks to a company that specializes in duplication is an option, but I don't do it because it takes too much time and eats away at our profits. However, if you have a reliable duplicator, it is wise to let the duplication companies in your area know about your availability to do small jobs. They might contact you occasionally to use you for outsourced jobs they don't want to handle.
If you make a lot of copies at one time, or are making a lot of copies over time, then you should invest in the right equipment that will allow you to do your own duplication. This is the best choice for most event videographers. Not only can you make DVDs of your own work, but you can also offer Blu-ray and DVD duplication as one of the services your business provides.
Types of Duplicators
Fortunately, prices have come down significantly for most standard duplicators, or disc publishers, so that most videographers can now afford to invest in good quality duplication equipment. However, it's important to determine what your needs are before investing in any equipment.
There are two basic types of duplicators: tower duplicators and automatic duplicators that can print information on the disc. The price of tower duplicators tends to be less than that of automatic duplicators - but don't let that be your only guide. It is important to have a good-looking product, and automatic duplicators, which are often called robotic, do a wonderful job and save you the extra step of having to print the disc from a different device.
If you regularly require a large number of discs to be duplicated at one sitting, you can get an automatic duplicator that can duplicate 100 or more at one time - without you having to feed it. If speed is important, then look into purchasing a tower duplicator. Many tower duplicators can work independently, which frees up your computer for other work while copies are being made. The additional space they require is easily justified with the separate tasks you'll get done. Another distinction when it comes to duplicators is whether it is external or internal - requiring a USB or other such cable makes a duplicator external. It's all about your needs.
If speed is not an issue, than consider equipment that automatically prints on the disc as well as duplicates the video. The Primera Bravo SE Disc Publisher (BD/DVD/CD-$2,500, DVD/CD-$1,500) takes longer to get multiple copies out because it only duplicates one disc at a time, but it also prints high quality graphics on the disc with an inkjet printer. This is important, because if you use labels on a disc, they can tear or jam up, causing the disc not to play properly and possibly damage the player - we never recommend you using paper stick-on labels. Ever. If you're using a tower, you can get a standalone printer that prints on discs. Some office printers also have adapters to print directly on discs.
There are a few other considerations to keep in mind when choosing a duplicator. First, is it Blu-ray compatible? Even though standard DVDs are still the norm, as early as tomorrow, people may be asking for Blu-ray discs. Check to see if the duplicator you are considering to purchase can be upgraded to Blu-ray. If not, you might want to choose one that can.
The Primera Bravo 4102 XRP Publisher is Blu-ray compatible (BD/DVD/CD $5,500.) It adds an extra cost to the purchase price of the duplicator, but it is still cheaper than having to purchase a new unit in the future.
Once you get into Blu-ray duping, the cost is going to jump - and it's not just the cost of the discs. The Vinpower Aero VI ($6,750) duplicator doesn't require a computer to operate, but for and extra $600 you can get an optional USB 3.0 with Multi-File CopyConnect & Copy Protection software. With CopyConnect you can connect to a computer via USB cable and with 3.0, again, future-proofing, you're going to get some faster work humming away.
If you're looking for the Lamborghini of duplicators, Rimage has one that can get your heart beating for around $12,430. The 5400N is a thermal disc reprinter which means no ink to fade or smear. This is a pro-level disc publisher that can be networked to many users, not just one computer, and like the pro discs you buy at your favorite movies store, the printed labels are permanently fused. The 5400N offers two front-swappable recorders and an embedded control center.
NOT a Flash in the Pan!
Looking further into the future - not all duplicated copies are on discs nowadays. Individual USB flash drives are pretty cheap and if you have a client who wants to make 100 flash copies of a promotional campaign to give out to potential clients, where do they turn? Depending on size, for about $1,150 (CFD-USB-07) to around $1,300 (CFD-USB-15) Microboards might just have the ticket. While they've been in the duplicator business for a long, long time, Microboard's latest devices don't call for any discs - they're flash-drive USB duplicators. They come in 7, 11, and 15 slot setups for multiple duplication and you can remove or insert drives during the process.
Like everything in technology lately, the changes are moving fast - and to stay in business, you have to move with the times. However, you will find that by adding a duplicator to your business, you will most likely multiply your potential income - it's well worth the investment.
Sidebar: A Tip from a Pro
When you need to have a fast turn-around time, you can print the graphics beforehand on blank DVDs; then, after being duplicated, they are ready for immediate distribution. This works well especially at events where you need to have discs available for people to purchase and take home immediately. You will sell more when you can make DVDs available within a short amount of time following an event. People are often impatient and don't want to go to the trouble of ordering and then waiting to receive their DVD. I have discovered that if they don't purchase at the time of the event, chances are they won't order later on. - A.N.
Sidebar: Protect Yourself!
Will you need copy protection for your DVDs? Many video producers make a good amount of their income by selling copies of DVDs to the parents or participants of events the videographer is covering. Making one copy and selling it to one parent who will then turn around and duplicate it for the entire soccer team takes a big bite out of your profit. PTProtect is a software program licensed by Primera that imbeds copy protection into the disc. It adds about a dollar to each disc, but we believe it is well worth the investment if you plan to earn income on duplicating discs.
Click here to download a PDF of Videomaker's Disc Publishers Buyer's Guide
Alan Naumann is a videographer specializing in funeral videography and video biographies. Jennifer O'Rourke is Videomaker's managing editor.