This time of year, our minds begin thinking of boxes with bows and finely wrapped packages. We go out of our way to make sure the gifts we give others look great. Your video productions, the products of many hours of hard work, should merit the same attention to detail when it comes to packaging. Creating tape jackets or DVD jewel case labels for your home movies can be easy and inexpensive. All you really need is a little imagination, a printer and a few accessories to create nice-looking labels that will give your productions a touch of quality. In this column, we will walk you through the step-by-step process for creating simple, but attractive, labels with your computer and a printer.
Before you get started, you’ll need to gather together a few tools. You’ll need a computer, a printer, some bright white paper, a paper cutter, a glue stick, a permanent marker, a pencil and a ruler. You will also need a word processing program such as Microsoft Word and the ability to export a frame from your video production using your editing software.
For straight, clean edges, it is best to use a paper cutter instead of scissors to cut and trim your labels. If you know you will be making a number of labels, a paper cutter will be a valuable and relatively inexpensive investment. If you don’t have one, you can get by with a razor blade and a steel ruler.
Label Design 101
Whether you are creating labels for a DVD or VHS videocassette, the first thing you need to do is design your label and prepare the artwork. You may want to include a piece of clipart or a frame grab from your tape.
With today’s editing software, exporting a still shot from your video is a fairly simple process. In Adobe Premiere, simply position the play head to choose the frame you want to use for your label, then choose file/export/timeline/frame. Save the frame and it’s ready to use. Once you open the image in Word, you can resize it and position it to your liking.
Choose a shot that best represents your video. If the case is for a wedding video, for example, you might select a shot of the couple kissing or a close – up of the bouquet.
VHS Tape Jackets
We will use a wedding production as our example for this slip-in style VHS tape jacket.
Step 1) Open and format a blank document. Under Page Setup in the File menu, choose a Landscape paper orientation, then change the margins for your page so that they are: Top .5 inches, Right .5 inches, Left 3.1 inches. Click OK. Note: It is important to orient the page to landscape before adjusting the margins.
Step 2) Create the spine label. Choose an attractive font, then type the couple’s names (or the title of the video) at the top center of the page. The spine text must fit in a one-inch space, so it should be no larger than 11-point type. Position the text in the area between the 4 1/2- and 5 1/2-inch markers on the rule at the top of the page (see Figure 1).
Step 3) Create the cover text. Press Enter three times to move the cursor down the page, and justify your text to the right. Type the title of your video in larger text (36-50 point, depending on the length of your title). Your cover text needs to fit in the 4-inch area between the 5 1/2- and 9 1/2-inch markers on the guide (see Figure 2).
Step 4) Add artwork. In Word, select Insert/Picture/From File, and browse to the picture that you’d like to use as your cover art. Size and position the image by clicking on its corner. Match the width of your image to the cover text, staying between the 5 1/2- and 9 1/2-inch markers on the guide (see Figure 3). To resize the image without changing its shape, you can hold the shift key as you click and drag the corner of the image.
Step 5) Add additional text. If you like, include the location and date of the event, or a subtitle below the image. Simply reduce the size of the font and center the text below the image and cover text.
Step 6) Create the back cover. Using a plain font, type your name and contact info on the lower left of the page (the back of the tape jacket), centering your text in the 4-inch area between the 1/2-inch and 4 1/2-inch markers (see Figure 4).
Step 7) Print and trim the paper. By setting your margins before you do your layout, you should only have to cut the paper along the left and bottom sides. Measure in one inch from the bottom and 1/2 inch from the left side, then mark and trim your paper.
Video Tape Labels
Videotapes have two places that need labels, the top and the spine. The top VHS label is 1 7/8 by 3 1/8 inches. A standard piece of printer paper is 8 1/2 by 11 inches. By carefully spacing the labels on the paper, you should be able to get ten top labels out of one sheet of paper.
Step 1) Open a blank Word document in standard Portrait layout.
Step 2) Type the couples’ names and the location or date of the wedding on both the left and right sides. Space the information out so that it looks clean and neat. Use the same font as the cover for consistency. A 24 point font should do for the title; use a smaller font for additional information.
Step 3) Print, trim and fit to the top of the tape.
Step 4) Apply glue stick to the back of the trimmed label and affix to the tape.
The VHS spine label is 3/4 by 5 3/4 inches. This is an important label because it is the one you see when you place the tape in the VCR. For this label, the information is more spread out. If properly spaced, you should be able to get 10 spine labels per sheet of paper.
Step 1) Open a blank Word document. With the page in Portrait orientation, set the margins for 1 inch on the right and left sides and .5 inches for the top and bottom.
Step 2) Type the couple’s names and the title on one line using a 20 point font and the location and/or date on the next line in a smaller font. Center-justify the text for consistency.
Step 3) Print, trim and fit to the spine of the tape.
Step 4) Apply glue stick to the back of the trimmed label and affix to the tape. Smooth out any bubbles.
Jewel Cases and Disc labels
If you have the ability to burn DVDs, you probably have a jewel case designer program. If so, use it to design your labels. If you don’t have a jewel case designer, you’ll need to spend a little more time creating your labels using Word.
A DVD jewel case has two labels: the front label which is quite simple to produce and the back label which gets a bit more complicated and is really beyond the basic level of expertise this column is focusing on, therefore, we will concentrate on the front label. The front label is 4 3/4 square. With this in mind, use the following steps to create your jewel case label.
Step 1) Open a new blank document in Word. Set the margins to .5 inch Top, 1 inch Bottom, .5 Left and 3.75 Right.
Step 2) Type the couple’s names, then the location and/or date on the next line in a smaller font. Text that you’d like to appear inside the cover needs to be on the left side of the page so that it lines up properly when folded.
Step 3) Print on bright white heavy stock paper, trim and fit to the front cover of the jewel case.
Remember, you should never glue a label to the DVD itself. This can hamper proper playback. Instead, use a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie, to neatly label the disc.
Wrapping it Up
How you present your products says a lot about the care you take in producing your projects. Clean, attractive-looking labels will make your projects stand out.
[Sidebar: Paper Choice]
The type of paper you use is very important. For the videotape labels, you will need a bright white medium weight paper. If the paper is too heavy, the label will be too bulky to glue properly. For jewel cases and tape jackets, you will want to use bright white heavy paper because your labels will be inserted into the front cover of the case and if the paper is too thin, they will slip out. The brightness of the paper is noted as a number. Standard paper is around 85 in brightness. Paper that has a brightness of 90 and up works well for making labels.