I still remember the anticipation we felt when we picked up the tape from our videographer, and the excitement as we settled in after our honeymoon to watch the footage.
We pulled it out again on our first anniversary and shared smiles and memories as we ate that year-old wedding-cake top that our grandparents told us to keep in the freezer for that very day. We fast-forwarded through a few parts to get to the "good stuff"—my father-in-law giving away the bride, our vows, that ceremonial kiss—and probably ended up watching about 70% of the tape. (We didn't do nearly so well on the stale cake.)
That was 1995, and we haven't watched it since. Not because we don't want to see it again, but because it just seems like too much effort to put it in the VCR, rewind it, and then scan through for the parts we really want to watch. That's a shame, because we know that it might be just the thing to give us some perspective when the going gets rough.
If only we had it on DVD, with a menu and the ability to get to the good stuff with a single click, I'm sure we'd watch it more often. Today, of course, you'd be hard-pressed to find a newly married couple who get their wedding video on VHS. While the DV format revolutionized event video production, DVD proved just as revolutionary in post-production. It didn't happen overnight, of course; while Daikin introduced its professional DVD authoring system Scenarist in 1996, it wasn't until 1999 that we saw the first authoring software that was accessible enough for most videographers to use.
The availability of usable tools and the emergence of inexpensive DVD recorders added a new step to the videographer's post-production process—DVD authoring—but each generation of software made that step easier to learn and less painful to execute. Today, there are dozens of DVD authoring software tools to choose from, ranging from the very basic to the advanced, and no videographer who hopes to stay competitive can afford not to use at least one of them. Most of them probably can't remember the last time they paid someone else to do their authoring.
But what about the output and distribution? Well, in the last five years, that's come in-house, too, with the advent of reasonably priced, easy-to-use automated disc duplicators and printers. It's been a boon to the duplicator manufacturers; R-Quest VP of sales and marketing Tim Furnas estimates that videographers account for 40% of his company's sales, while Microboards marketing manager Aaron Pratt says the duplication market has quadrupled in the last five years, with videographers being the #2 segment of that market.
"End users are starting to snap this equipment up more and more," says Mark Strobel, VP of sales and marketing for Primera. "We're seeing a notable shift in our customer base to more videographers, recording studios, and amateur musicians and filmmakers. Service bureaus are still buying the big equipment, but if you're doing a small run, why go to a service bureau?"
It's also been a boon to videographers, who can now quickly generate short runs of event or corporate projects without having to outsource duplication. Whether using a tower duplicator that can make multiple copies from a single master at the same time or an autoloading system that provides the ability to generate runs of 100 or more discs, a videographer can satisfy most client requests without taxing too much manpower or time, especially now that DVD duplication has hit 12X speed. And if the duplicator is also a printer, that makes it that much easier.
"Most videographers want to keep duplication and printing in-house, so they can control when, where, and what is produced, without having to commit to numbers they may not need," says Furnas. "Content changes rapidly, and most videographers like the flexibility to burn what they need, when they need it." Here's a look at the latest in DVD duplication and printing technology, as well as the pros and cons of duping it yourself.
The Tape-Disc Business
Doing DVD in-house requires videographers to do more than simply substitute one duplication process for another, and the switch from VHS production to optical disc wasn't necessarily a no-brainer. "VHS or any tape format has always been the simplest to distribute, because there's no additional authoring step between the completion of production and distribution," says Brett Culp, founder and creative director of Creative Video Productions in Land O'Lakes, Florida. He says the interactivity and A/V quality of DVD made the switch worth it, but it didn't come easily. "Rather than being able to run straight to tape, we had to encode, author, and burn. Until we were bright enough to move these tasks to a separate computer workstation, this was very frustrating, as it could add four hours to the production process."