All About DVDs

DVD's are not all made the same way...

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DVDs are a wonderful video playback format yet much more complicated to make than one would expect. DVDs are made several different ways. The four primary ways DVD's are made are via the computer, Standalone DVD recorders, Standalone DVD Recorder with built in hard drive, and glass mastering. Each DVD creation method has it advantages and disadvantages depending on your requirements.

Why you choose one DVD mastering method or another is usually related to how much money you want to spend, how many copies you will be making, and how much you understand about making your DVD as useful as possible. Standalone Realtime DVD recordings are the most basic type of DVD reproduction available. The basic disadvantage to standalone DVD reproduction in a standalone machine is that without a hard drive, editing of any type is usually not possible.

Some Standalone DVD recorders come with built in Hard Drives which allow for basic editing, chapter insertions and even a menu page. In many instances, this approach can offer the best bang for the buck for someone needing minimal DVD copies but with some basic but essential features such as a menu page and chapter skips.

Creating a Videotape Edit Master BEFORE one makes a DVD has certain advantages. Videotape masters have not been compressed. There are currently several MPEG compression schemes used for converting video to DVD with more on the way. Once a videotape has been compressed into a file and turned into a DVD, the DVD will look fine but will have the editing flexibility or quality that the tape master has.

It's crazy, isn't it? You want to preserve your allegedly fragile home videos by putting them on DVD, yet the DVD may not last as long as the original video tape, and even if it does, it now has been so compressed that it is a lesser quality if video standard if you ever need to edit from it! It's better to have created a higher quality videotape master that can be remastered to future technologies than incorrectly assuming your DVD is the best way to go. Should a better quality DVD process be invented, one can playback the original videotape master and make a new DVD using the new, higher quality standard.

Betacam SP is an ideal videotape format in terms of quality and archival durability. You won't be able to playback this tape master unless you own a betacam sp machine but any reputable editing facility will have this type of video playback machine for the forseeable future.

DVD Creation Strategies...

All DVD's are not created equal. When deciding you want a DVD, there are a few questions you should ask yourself regarding how much video running time each DVD should contain and what type of DVD you should have made.

If you want a DVD made but don't know a lot about them simply practice using an existing DVD. Practice using the menu page and chapter skips and you will get the gist of how most DVD's basically work. Thumbnails are the still images that appear on the Menu Title Page and represent different segments of the overall video. If you choose to not have chapter skips put on your DVD, you've basically negated the primary reason for using DVD technology versus tape, which is the ability to skip around the entire video very quickly.

Slingshot Productions believes virtually all longer length DVD's should also have chapter skips. The lowest cost method for Chapter skipping is to simply have them automatically put in at certain time increments irrespective of the actual video content, for instance, a chapter skip every 5 or 10 minutes is usually better than no chapters skips at all. However, having chapter skips inserted at the beginning of each scene or location change will enhance your DVD viewing experience even more.

Now we get into the nuts and bolts of how you should want your dvds made. The ideal scenario from a cost and efficiency point of view is to order DVD's that come with STRATEGICALLY PLACED CHAPTER SKIPS. This is where it gets difficult for most people who offer the service of converting videotape to DVD's. Customers want the cheapest price possible, which means at best, automatic chapter skips every so often and a straight real time transfer. Usually, these services can be found for between 15 dollars to 40 dollars a DVD. However, I GUARANTEE you that if you plan on watching your DVD more than once, or showing to friends, you will want chapter skips placed at the places on the DVD that show off the most interesting moments of your video.

How to Edit Your Home Videos Affordably...

Many people have several dozen Home Video tapes and don't know how to edit them affordably. If you had a professional edit a one hour DV tape or VHS tape, you could easily spend between $100 hundred to $300 dollars! On top of that would be the cost of actually making the DVD from the newly edited home video. Slingshot Productions has devised a method in which our customers receive the entertainment value of an edited home video but without all the editing costs.

Slingshot Productions believes that random chapter skips are not a good enough solution for families that actually want to watch and enjoy their family home videos on DVD. Slingshot Productions no longer incorporates random chapter skips when making their DVD's. As a result, we probably charge more than most facilities per DVD. However, we guarantee that you will find playing our DVD's to be not only more enjoyable than the competitions, but you will actually enjoy viewing your DVD's at the pace you desire, and more than once.

If you are in the Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, Ventura County, or Santa Clarita area, West San Fernando Valley, send an email to and lets set up a free appointment.