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01} How much does it cost to get 20 copies of my DVD portfolio / music sampler CD made?
02} How much does it cost to transfer my video to DVD?
03} What is DVD Authoring?
04} What length of video can fit on a single DVD?
05} I have some changes before it goes onto the disc. So you can edit the video?
06} Can I see the master you have made before the duplication?

07} What’s wrong with stick on labels?
08} What the difference between Duplication and Replication? What do you do?
09} What is a motion menu?

10} How common are DVD players? Will everyone be able to watch my disc?
11} What are the benefits of DVD video over a VHS tape?
12} I have a DVD master already, but it needs some changes made before reproduction, is this possible?
13} People say that DVD’s don’t last as long as tapes?
14} I hear that duplication can cause a loss of quality. Is this true?
15} So what does “DVD” stand for?
16} What is the difference between DVD-Video and a DVD-Rom?
17} Will my video look better after being transferred to DVD?
18} So what is MPEG-2?

01} How much does it cost to get 20 copies of my DVD portfolio / music sampler CD made?

See the prices. These include a full colour direct to disc print, but packaging is additional as of course everyone wants something different. This pricing is from a master disc, that is; you already have a disc authored and just want x amount of copies made. If you have a video that is on tape, see 02.
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02} How much does it cost to transfer my video to DVD?

How long is a piece of string? There are just too many variables to quote a set price for performing this operation. We do a professional job, editing where required and tidying up either end of the footage. We will make any complexity of menu required, from none to fully fledged powerful interactive material.

Please send me an email outlining the details of your idea.

Some of the things to consider, and include in your contact are:

  • How long is the video you have? Is it on one tape or spread across three? Does it need some editing or is it ready to go?
  • Is your disc going to contain a slide show? If so how many images are there? Do they need enhancing, red eye removal, or any other processing that we can perform for you?
  • How many discs do you want it presented on?
  • What sort of packaging do you have in mind?
    Will you design the print on the disc, or will that be something I do for you?
  • Do you need a slick? (Printed case cover). Who will design that?
  • What will the structure of the disc be? Rent a DVD from the local video store and see how creative the menus can be! You might be fluent in Photoshop, and can even design the background yourself! Or will that be something for me to do?
  • Do you have some photos you want to use for the menu or disc print?
  • Have you the music you want to use?
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03} What is DVD Authoring?

Authoring is the process where your finished video, audio, still images, menus and subtitles etc are all brought together and built into a single DVD format interactive composition, and generally includes creating a master disc. It involves building timelines from your video and audio, setting chapter points, making scene selections, menu and motion menu design, button creation, button and remote control routing and navigation, building subtitles or multiple audio tracks, and the list goes on. The DVD video format can perform many functions, from simple playback of a single video clip to an advanced customisable interactive media presentation.
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04} What length of video can fit on a single DVD?

For a single layer disc, I generally recommend one and a half hours. This allows for menus etc, and retains the highest quality video image. You can stretch it out longer, but it inversely impinges upon the quality of the video. There are many other aspects which will also affect the amount of footage to a modest degree, such as quality of the source material, stability of the shots etc, all of which influence the data rate when compressing to mpeg.
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05} I have some changes before it goes onto the disc. So you can edit the video?

Yes, and much more. We not only offer editing, but also compositing and special effects work as necessary, including 3D work and particle effects.
We also do audio repair as necessary, don’t hesitate to ask about an issue!
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06} Can I see the master you have made before the duplication?

Yes absolutely! We generally provide a proof disc for your viewing at no charge after authoring and before duplication. If this is important to you though, please make mention of it on ordering whatever work is performed.
Small changes from the proof are often then made free of further charge, but due to the client not always knowing what is a small change and what is a major rework from the brief, each case needs to be taken independently. A general rule is an hour of time included as post proof work free of charge.
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07} What’s wrong with stick on labels?

There are many reports of DVD discs not playing back correctly with a label, with the possibilities of cause being either extra inertia created by the weight of the label or balance issues of due to off centre assembly. Having performed some testing it does appear to be that the extra weight is actually the issue and is enough to cause read errors. It seems to affect DVD-R more than DVD+R media, yet CD’s don’t seem to suffer any problems possibly due to the less accurate tolerances compared to those inherent in the DVD design.

In any case, there is the danger that labels can lose their stickiness over time and through sunlight damage, and peel off in players causing untold damage.
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08} What the difference between Duplication and Replication? What do you do?

When it comes to the English language, not too much. But there is a growing DVD terminology that differentiates the two in the multiplication process. Duplication, which is the service we perform, uses a laser to burn the data onto the disc using multiple DVD writers. In our case we use a robot that distributes the discs to the drives, moves them to the printer, then outputs them ready to be packaged. It is generally suited for runs up to a few thousand. The benefits include very fast turn around and a lot less initial financial outlay. Replication on the other hand uses a process of glass mastering and pressing, and is how the Hollywood discs are produced. The quantities these production houses require are substantially more, and often require a run of 1000 as a bare minimum, and the benefits of this process are dwindling rapidly. They were once regarded as being more compatible than duplicated discs, but technology has won and now this is just becoming an old wives tale. You will be struggling now to find a DVD player around that cannot play back a correctly authored DVD-R disc.
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09} What is a motion menu?

A motion menu is one where the menu background is not static, i.e. it is generally a short video clip that will loop. This is usually tailored to suit the style and function of each disc, and although it does add a little in cost to design, it is a most value enhancing feature on any disc. They commonly will also contain looping audio, though this can be used on a static menu as well. Try renting some movies from the local video store for ideas and to see how it can be done.
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10} How common are DVD players? Will everyone be able to watch my disc?

The popularity of DVD set top players is gaining at a phenomenal rate. Research in 2004 from AC Nielsen indicated that 35% of New Zealanders owned a DVD player. Spread that around in one per household, and account for those that can also watch it on their PC at home or work, and the figure of able viewers mushrooms. You can now easily buy a DVD player far cheaper than a VCR, and in Britain Dixons said its sales of DVD players outnumbered VCRs by a ratio of 40 to 1! The US National Association of Recording Merchandisers stated that DVD disc sales surpassed those of VHS tapes back in 2000, and since then DVD sales have grown 300%, while VHS sales declined 21%.
Watch out for the most current figures. The VHS error (sic) is at last being put to rest, and fast.
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11} What are the benefits of DVD video over a VHS tape?

Many! Here is a list of some of them:

  • DVD contains high quality digital video, and in image superiority can beat the long outdated poor performer of the old analogue VHS any day.
  • The audio can also be of hugely superior quality, even better than CD, and can also include a multiple channel soundtrack.
  • Performance of the DVD does do not diminish with use, like a VHS tape does. There is no physical contact in the reading of the disc, and so nothing to wear out. The only way to damage the disc is through actual mistreatment through handling.
  • No fast forwarding or rewinding of the tape! When you have finished, pop the disc out or restart immediately from the beginning.
  • Compact size; ease of packaging and distribution, storage, etc.
  • Super clean pause and fast forwarding through the video content!
  • Powerful interactive structure, with the viewer choosing their path through the content.
  • Scene selection, for instantly jumping to a set point in the video.
  • Chapter points, for example skipping to every 10 minutes through the content.
  • Subtitles that can be turned on or off.
  • Multiple language options for delivery to diverse dialect recipients.
  • Optional commentaries that can be listened to.
  • Still image slide shows that can be sped up or watched at leisure.
  • Widescreen or standard ratio versions on the same disc.
  • The players are cheaper than VCR’s.
  • It can be played on a computer.
  • Not susceptible to magnetic deterioration or mould.
  • They are just simply cooler! Think about it, everyone would rather receive a DVD than a Videotape!
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12} I have a DVD master already, but it needs some changes made before reproduction, is this possible?

Well yes, it is possible. But certainly not advisable. It is a lengthy process, as involved as authoring the disc from scratch such as creating menus and routing etc, but the main issue is in the format used for the video compression.
DVD content is made up of MPEG-2, and though this is a great final delivery format, it is not a suitable format for editing. Therefore it needs to be converted to a format suitable for editing, such as DV, and subsequent to editing then recompressed to mpeg again. This series of recompression is not kind to the quality of your video. Compression is in effect deciding just how much of the information in the content can be thrown away to make it small enough to fit on a disc, while keeping it nice enough to still be watch-able. It is a complex process and not quickly explained here, but needless to say the process of throwing little bits of the information in your video way repeatedly will eventually lead to poor quality.

Suffice to say, it is strongly advisable to archive your original footage in an editable state if you think there is a possibility of the need to do so again.
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13} People say that DVD’s don’t last as long as tapes?

Well, who knows? They simply haven’t been around long enough for anyone to know. There have definitely been reports of bad batches of optical media flaking and failing, but these cases seem to be somewhat isolated, and are not evidence enough to abandon the format. Most manufacturers now claim at least 50 to 100 years. We use high quality Verbatim media which should insure you get the best life span available. Analogue video tape (e.g. VHS) has many shortfalls itself, such as mould and magnetic deterioration, and the format is soon to be lost to the swift march of technology.

My advice for long term archiving is simply this: Keep the original source, but transfer it to the current media of today. So by all means keep the original VHS tape, but also get a transfer done onto DVD which should still last long enough to make it to the next technological advancement in video storage. Don’t forget to keep the method of playback however! Many people have old slides in the attic, but no longer have any way of viewing them! So will go the way of the VHS.
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14} I hear that duplication can cause a loss of quality. Is this true?

Certainly it can be a problem in analogue to analogue reproduction, such as a VHS to VHS copying, but generally with a good quality source such as a high bit rate DVD or digital video tape like a miniDV or digital 8, there is very little to worry about due to reproduction alone. There are typically more factors to consider with quality concerns, such as compression, recompression, quality of the original source etc. As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.

Take good quality footage; say a MiniDV tape, shot with plenty of light and smooth camera work, and it will look fantastic on DVD.

Just because your footage might be an old VHS tape that has been in the attic for years shouldn’t stop you making the transfer now however. As I said before, making more copies to VHS will only degrade the image quality further, so putting it once and for all to a digital format will at least retain its present state.
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15} So what does “DVD” stand for?

There are two main titles that it once used to be an acronym for. “Digital Video Disc” and “Digital Versatile Disc”.
There are many arguments voicing one or the other, but actually now the DVD Forum finally said in 1999 that to dismiss it once and for all, it now officially stands for nothing. Just “DVD”.
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16} What is the difference between DVD-Video and a DVD-Rom?

A DVD-Video is a DVD movie, such as one that you might hire from the local video store. It is played back on either a set top player like the one under you telly, or can be played back from your computer if it has a DVD drive and the software installed. Nearly all moderately spec’d new PC’s now come with DVD drives, and therefore generally will also have the software loaded and ready to go.
DVD-Rom is computer only content. That is, it might be such as what comes with large software requirements such as big computer games, or a for lot of content like those that come with some newer PC magazines.
The way to think about it might be this; DVD-Video is like the video equivalent of CD Audio, like your favourite Crowded House CD. DVD-Rom is more like a CD-Rom, with software or content that is for the PC alone.
At StarBeam Studios we can duplicate all DVD’s and CD’s, irrespective of their format.
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17} Will my video look better after being transferred to DVD?

DVD is a great format, with picture quality superior to all common consumer formats today. Authored properly it can produce stunning results; however it is only as good as the source material. We can correct some problems with original footage, and we also perform editing, so feel free to ask about what might be possible if you have some video that is in some way below par. Audio can be given attention as well.
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18} So what is MPEG-2?

MPEG is an acronym for “Motion Picture Experts Group”, the team that designed the compression system.
DVD Video format uses MPEG-2, which is highly compressed when compared with its original state. When played back most DVD videos still look great however, and this is due to the work that has gone into how the MPEG-2 algorithm functions. It’s a bit complex for the sake of the purpose of this information, but when compressed correctly at a high bit rate from a good source it can look fantastic. Bit rate is the rate at which how much data describes each chunk of video calculated against time, and is measured in megabits per second.
DVD’s have only so much space to store a set amount of data. It could be very simply likened to how many fish you could fit inside your fish tank. If they were big healthy fish, you could only fit a few. (High bit rate, good quality video, but a limited runtime). If you got a lot smaller fish, you could fit more of them in the tank. (Lower bit rate, lower quality video, but loner run time). You could keep getting scrawnier fish, but as the fish got unhealthier so does the quality of your video. See here for how much I recommend on a single standard disc.
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