You have undoubtedly spent many hours on location, in the studio and in the editing suite creating the content for your DVD. Every second has been analysed dozens of times to ensure that the end result is exactly as you intended or as the client required. You now have to convey that level of dedication and attention to detail in the presentation of your disc and its packaging, particularly if it is heading for a retail environment. The last thing you want is to miss out on sales or risk a lack of interest in the end product because of poor quality printing or packaging.
More than likely, you will also have to stick to a project budget and that’s where things get complicated and it’s worth taking a little time to explore the options when selecting a partner for DVD printing and packaging.
How to Select and Source DVD Printing and Packaging Services
One of the major factors when sourcing a printing and packaging service will be the quantity of DVDs required. As with most products, the more you buy, the lower the cost per unit. If you only need a short run of discs then there are options to consider that will keep the cost of the project down, but will still result in a high quality end product. Similarly, if you require a large run there are options to take that will minimize costs which, for higher numbers of discs, can be extensive.
The usual considerations apply when selecting a supplier. Do a little research on the internet and find some customer reviews or ask your contacts for a recommendation. Use a company where you can talk directly to a designer to make sure your requirements are met, ask for a sample and, if possible, arrange a meeting to talk to a designer face to face and see the standard of their previous work. This is particularly important if you’re having a large run of discs, a picture on a website won’t relay the quality feel and finishing of the packaging and the last thing you want to end up with is packaging that you “make do” with because there’s no time left for a re-print. None of the above will be a problem for a reputable, experienced packaging supplier.
DVD Printing Artwork
If you are intending to design the disc and packaging artwork yourself then you will need a set of templates to work with to ensure that your printing provider can use your finished artwork with their printing set up. Discuss your requirements with your provider to make sure that they can be met and they should then be able to provide you with the required artwork templates.
DVD printing service providers will usually have an artwork expert who can design your disc and packaging for you if you’re not going to do it yourself, or you can hire a professional graphic artist with experience in this area, who will be able to advise you as to what type of images print most effectively on DVDs and their related packaging.
Short Run DVD Printing and Packaging
- Digital Printing
If you need less than 100 DVDs, then digital printing may be the way to go for you. The discs are printed using a digital inkjet printer; the discs used need to have an inkjet printable surface and your supplier should be able to offer you reassurance of the disk quality. Using this printing method, it is possible to print extremely high resolution photographic images. The discs will need to be finished properly to ensure a highly professional end product. A layer of clear lacquer should be applied to seal the ink so that it cannot be damaged by moisture and to give it a decent level of impact resistance. Again your supplier should be able to demonstrate that the printed DVDs have been finished correctly.
Digital DVD printing doesn’t require any films, screens or printing plates to be made up as with Silk Screen or Offset (Lithographic) printing, but can be more time consuming. It’s ideal for low print quantities but at the 100 plus disc mark you will need to look at the other printing methods to control costs.
- Screen Printing
Screen printing is ideally suited to the printing of block colours, particularly where specific Pantone colours are required by the design. The Pantone colour system is a coding system which ensures consistent colour shades across branded media where required. A set of numbered swatches are used to identify the exact mix of inks required to produce a specific colour and the ink is mixed using a very accurate set of equipment. Screen printing also allows the use of specialist inks such as metallic effect inks or fluorescent inks.
DVD Screen printing requires a screen to be made for each ink colour used up to a maximum of 6 colours as a white base layer can be applied to the discs if there is any white in the design, beforehand. The remaining 5 colours are then printed onto the white disc. Screen printed colours are bold and eye catching and when used as part of a high end printing process will really make your disc stand out.
If cost control is a consideration, in particular with smaller batches of discs then limiting the amount of colours used in the design will negate some of the fixed sundries costs involved. With larger batches these costs are absorbed and become negligible especially where you’re having upwards of 1000 DVDs printed.
- Offset or Lithographic Printing
Lithographic printing allows for the printing of very high resolution photographic or complex images onto DVDs. The ink is applied via a printing plate and rubber mat system which is capable of very quickly printing large quantities of discs. The set up costs involved in lithographic printing are extensive but, as with screen printing, become negligible for larger runs of discs, typically over 1000. As with Screen printing, the disc should be finished with a coat of UV lacquer to make the disc moisture resistant and to provide a good level of impact resistance. The lacquer can be gloss or matt depending upon the requirements of the artwork design.
- DVD Packaging
There is a bewildering array of packaging available for you to choose from depending upon your project budget or specific project requirements. Simple plastic wallets or paper wallets are at the very lowest cost end of the range followed by printed card wallets which can really look the part with the right design, through standard cases with printed paper sleeves and up to specialist types of packaging such as jakeboxes or printed metal boxes/tins.
- Plastic Wallets or Paper Wallets
A plastic wallet or paper wallet is ideal if you’re putting the DVD into a package with other promotional items, if you’re giving the discs away at an exhibition or industry show of some kind or if you’re mailing the discs out. They are low cost and light and will provide a degree of protection for the recorded and printed surfaces.
They are also available with 2 or 3 adhesive strips should the wallet need to be fixed into some sort of publication.
- Printed Card Wallets
There are many different types of card wallet such as a simple card sleeve that you slide a single disc into or a package that holds multiple discs in pockets within a booklet arrangement (Lancing Pack). The card wallet can be digitally printed with a high resolution photographic image or a design as simple or as complex as is required. The wallet can then be finished with a gloss or matt lamination to suit your design requirements.
- Clamshell Cases and Slimline Jewel Cases
Clamshell cases offer better protection than plastic wallets, paper wallets or even card wallets and can receive a printed image but you will be restricted to a 3 or 4 block colour print which is fine for a company or band logo. A slimline jewel case will allow for the inclusion of digitally printed paper parts and even an information booklet, if required. Both options are slim and lightweight although the clamshell packaging tends to be made of a more flexible type of plastic than the jewel case; jewel cases are prone to cracking on impact because they are made of a more brittle type of plastic.
- Standard DVD Cases
The standard DVD case which we are all well used to seeing blockbuster movies supplied in, comes in a variety of colours and a range of quality grades measuring about 190 x 135 x 14mm. They usually contain an internal moulded stud which holds the disc or discs in place inside the case but can also contain a swing tray for holding the disc, especially if there are multiple discs to be included inside the case. They are made of a flexible polypropylene plastic with a clear plastic cover which holds a printed paper insert. If there is a booklet to be included in the box, standard cases have moulded clips to hold it in place inside the left-hand panel.
The best priced standard DVD cases are print on demand company available in black or clear plastic as these have the largest demand. Different coloured cases (red, blue, yellow, white etc.) tend to be slightly more expensive as there is usually not such a large demand for them.
This type of case also comes in a slimline format with a spine depth of 9mm or oversize format to accommodate multiple discs with a spine depth of 20mm plus.
- Digipack and Jakebox
These types of packaging are a little more specialist and will add a little more to the project cost but may be just what the project needs to give it an edge.
A Digipack consists of a reinforced card folder with a number of printed panels (usually between 4 and 6) with a plastic tray glued to one of the inside panels to hold the disc. More than one tray can be used for packages with multiple discs but any more than 3 makes the package start to become too weighty and clumsy to open/close. All of the panels can receive a high quality digital print and the card can then be gloss or matt laminated depending upon your requirements, or left with its standard silk finish.
The Jakebox offers a clever way of presenting the DVD when the package is opened. The card mechanism moves the disc forward as the jakebox is opened and the whole thing folds flat when the package is closed. It’s something a bit different to give your offering a WOW factor. The jakebox can be digitally printed with your choice of design but not all packaging manufacturers will offer this so you will need to enquire beforehand and ask for a template to use when designing your packaging.
- Printing and Finishing DVD Packaging
The packaging is usually digitally printed although it can, if required, be screen printed. This means that there shouldn’t be any price difference between printing a basic, “less is more” type of design or printing a full colour all singing and dancing design. Most card stock packaging can be finished with a gloss or matt laminate which is a very thin film of plastic used to create the required finish according to your design.