Over the past several years streaming video has swept across the landscape like a relentless zombie horde. Left in its wake are the artifacts of old: DVD players and burners, jewel cases and shiny discs of plastic. The unstoppable deluge of mobile devices marches on, trampling all technology in its path. If this sounds like a work of fiction, it’s because it is. The media is filled with stories forecasting the demise of optical media such as DVD and Blu-ray. Don’t believe the rumors, they’re not true, online streaming is not the bearer of an optical storage apocalypse. DVD and Blu-ray are alive and well. Optical media is a great solution for distributing content and it still holds value for a variety of uses. It’s a thriving means of delivery that is accessible to almost every home. Authoring services are still in business, looking at ongoing work and will be for some time. Here are five ways that optical storage fights off the mythical catastrophe of an online onslaught.
1. First Line of Defense: Copy Protection
A concern of many producers is protecting their work. Lots of effort and expense goes into making a video. When that video is the intellectual property of a company, they want to make sure they reap the benefits of its distribution. Many producers have concerns about putting their videos on the Internet. They fear the videos will be copied and shared without their permission. It’s a legitimate concern but the use of optical media can decrease that risk.
Event videographers make a fair amount of their profits by selling copies of their videos to customers. Online streaming grants a wider accessibility to their videos and cuts into the profits when that video is shared without a sale taking place. Physical distribution through optical media allows the event videographer to remain profitable because only those in possession of a disc can view it. Of course there is always the risk of someone copying a disc they purchased. They end up sharing the copies with other potential customers and it cuts into sales. That’s why intellectual property rights owners should be concerned with Digital Rights Management. There are effective methods of DRM for optical media and with a little research, producers can find solutions that work best for them. If authoring a disc with DRM seems tricky, there are authoring services that are able to provide the highest quality encryption available. With a well-thought-out plan, producers can control the distribution of their content and maximize their profits.
It’s true that online streaming has brought down the number of video rental stores, but it hasn’t decimated consumers’ desire for physical products. In fact, retailers are able to charge a higher price for physical copies of a product that is also delivered as a digital product. This is reflected in the sales of published books by online retailers such as Amazon. The majority of the physical books in their inventory carry a higher price than the ebook versions. A portion of this is due to the materials and inventory storage of the physical product, but there are overhead expenses that coincide with digital products as well. Consumers’ perception places a higher value on physical products.
The truth is, packaging matters. There are many consumers (read current and potential customers) who simply prefer to purchase a physical product. These consumers want more than the content they are purchasing, they enjoy owning the packaging that goes along with a physical product. A physical product, including its packaging, allows for collateral material such as printed inserts. This adds to the perception of it being a higher value product.
For anyone selling videos at an event, it is much more enticing to have a physical product on hand. The physical product allows for a more thorough visual presentation, it becomes it's own advertisement. A packaged DVD or Blu-ray disc lets the customer know immediately what they’re getting and gives them a tangible product for their purchase.
3. Quality Stands Out From the Crowd
Optical media gives producers an opportunity to present video that is of a higher quality and less compressed than a streaming video file. The reason being, Blu-ray is able deliver a higher bitrate than online streaming. There are a number of factors that affect each means of delivery, resulting in a variable bitrate, but across the board Blu-ray is still much faster. This means that video delivered on disc doesn’t require as much compression and presents a better quality image, one with less artifacts. This goes without saying streaming data rates run the risk of being impeded by multiple factors such as the user’s Internet connection and network activity. If it becomes too laborious of a chore, there is help available to demystify the compression process. Authoring services are able to balance the quality of a video with its file size, delivering a good looking image in a small package.
Although the Internet feels pervasive in close to every facet of life, there are still places and individuals who don’t have access to it. Some people just prefer the use of a Blu-ray or DVD player, it’s easy to use. Web delivery can introduce a variety of variables including streaming data rates, Web code, embedding, and browser plug-ins, all to make sure the video is playable on different consumer devices. These variables increase the chance for error in creating and playing back a video. A producer doesn’t need to worry about multiple versions to deliver on disc, it becomes the lowest common denominator. One file at one size is all that's needed to author a disc. Playing the video becomes a two-button process for the customer.
5. The Last Line of Defense: Backup
Mention a corrupt hard drive to a video producer and they will cringe in agony. It's one of the great fears of many content creators. Data loss due to faulty hardware can be devastating. Lost projects and lost content is a crippling loss that can bankrupt a small business. That’s why backing up content is of great importance. Optical storage options, such as Blu-ray discs, are capable of storing up to 25GB of data on a single layer disc, while dual-layer discs are capable of storing up to 50GB of data. The advantages of archiving data to Blu-ray discs are numerous. It’s inexpensive, all that’s required is a Blu-ray burner and the Blu-ray disc media. The shelf life of a Blu-ray disc is longer than that of a hard drive. Manufacturers estimate the lifespan of a Blu-ray disc to be more than 100 years, far exceeding the likely relevance of the technology. Optical media does not take up much physical space, making it easy to store or transport. The best backups are redundant, meaning even the backup has a backup. The low cost and simple duplication process of Blu-ray makes it a simple solution for redundant data storage. It may not be an enterprise solution for a large facility, but for the individual producer it's more than reasonable.
Optical storage is alive and well. It’s a simple and convenient solution for producers who find themselves on a tight budget. They are able to create and deliver the best product possible.
As online streaming continues its consuming growth, it will continue to be ubiquitous in all aspects of video production. Although online streaming video has become a must for producers, it hasn’t brought about the end of Blu-ray and DVD yet. There’s a reason optical storage is still around and should be for quite some time.
Chris “Ace” Gates is an Emmy Award winning writer and editor.
SIDEBAR: 5 Tips to Deliver a Quality Product on Disc
1. Create both a DVD and a Blu-ray disc to be packaged and delivered together. The cost of discs is inexpensive and the payoff is worth it. This should give your audience a chance to view your video on disc, regardless of what type of disc player they have.
2. Add bonus content, whether it’s an outtake reel or a "making of" short, additional content adds value. It’s possible to deliver digital files as well. Major movie studios are doing this, their lead is an example of how to bring exceptional value to the customer.
3. Design the package. Be intentional about the graphic design of the case; presentation matters. An attractive box will add sales and increase the perceived value of the product. Even if you’re not a graphic designer, there are plenty of resources available online to help you make attractive print content.
4. While you’re at it, design the disc face to complement the packaging. Again it increases the value of your overall product.
5. Include information on the disc and on the packaging that helps the customer find your website. The packaging of your products helps you to build your brand. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-promotion. It’s a way to grow future sales and to get connected to your customer base.