Publishing a DVD with CreateSpace and Amazon

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One of my friends asked me about my experience publishing a DVD with CreateSpace and Amazon.

createspace-logo-csp.gifCreateSpace is a company that allows you to publish your own DVDs, CDs, and books. They were bought out by Amazon and so Amazon can also handle the distribution of your materials. The royalty rates are quite generous, especially comparison to mainstream publishing and distribution companies.

I have two films distributed through them: Bethel: Community and Schizoprehnia in Northern Japan and A Japanese Funeral

I personally think that CreateSpace is a harbinger of the future for publishing independent documentary and ethnographic films. It used to be that you needed a publishing house for DVDs because of the complexity of the production process. But now with Apple's Final Cut Studio, it is easy to author a DVD entirely by yourself and produce a master disc suitable for reproduction.

After the jump, I'll go into the steps that I took to master A Japanese Funeral.

The first step is, of course, to produce the final cut of your film in Final Cut Pro. Then, you need to export it to Compressor using the highest quality DVD export settings available. Since my films are short, I use the “DVD: Best Quality 90 minutes.”

This produces two files: the MPEG-2 video file and the Dolby Digital audio file. DVDs do not "mux" the audio with the video, they are separate files on the disk. This is what allows you to switch between different language tracks or switch to a different audio format (AC-3; Dolby 2.0; Dolby 5.1; etc.).

I then go to DVD Studio Pro and create a new project and add the video file and audio file to a new track. I link the track to the play button on the menu in DVD Studio Pro, and try it out.

There are some additional settings that need manipulating. In Final Cut, there are some issues with frame rate and interlacing since I am coming from a high-definition video source. In DVD Studio Pro, I also need to make sure that my frame size is set to 16:9 so that I get the proper widescreen aspect ratio.

Then, I try a sample burn. It's very important to try your DVD–R on as many different DVD players as you can. Especially if you're sending your own DVD–Rs to film festivals, as some brands of DVD–Rs notably finicky about the players that they play in.

Make sure all the many commands work. Make sure that when A video track ends, it is set to loop back to either the main menu or the sub menu where it came from.

Producing the DVD label and the DVD case label are the next steps. CreateSpace provides Adobe Photoshop templates for both of these. You need to use Photoshop because you need to turn on and off the layers that help guide your template design. I suppose you could use any graphic program and just output files with the right dimensions, but it will be much harder to make sure that the text properly aligns with the disc hub or the case creases.

Then, you go to CreateSpace and set up your account in the new film file. Upload the graphics and then get an account number to send your DVD master disc. Unfortunately, the space that not seem to have a way to upload DVD masters as image files, so you have to use good old snail mail.

That's it! After about two weeks, CreateSpace should send you a proof disc. Again, try to play in as many different DVD players as you can. Also, check your disk and case labels to make sure that the CreateSpace barcodes aren't covering any of your text more important graphics.

In CreateSpace, you get to determine your pricing level. They have an online calculator so you can instantly see how much in royalties you'll get with each sale. You also have the option of also enabling online streaming rentals and sales through Amazon.

All in all, pretty easy. Only the most basic Final Cut, DVD Studio, and Photoshop skills are needed.

Hope this helps.

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This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on August 30, 2010 3:23 PM.

Meta: Carpal tunnel syndrome sucks was the previous entry in this blog.

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