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What is DVD Mastering?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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DVD mastering is a digital optimization process that readies a DVD project for replication or duplication. Commonly packaged with related services such as label and sleeve printing, mastering encompasses both audio and audiovisual work.

A variety of steps might be involved in DVD mastering, depending on the source material and services requested. For audio projects, the customer commonly provides the service with a mixdown of the finished product in two-channel analog or digital tracks. The mastering service enhances sound quality by running the tracks through a mastering studio, where they are balanced and equalized. The result should be a technically superior, completely optimized digital master.

Audiovisual material might be provided in the form of movie files, VHS tape, reel tape, or digital or film photography. Mastering services may include the actual production or compilation of the project from these raw materials, which may include things like personal wedding footage, photos and suggested music or soundtrack material. Graphics, special effect transitions, menus and other enhancements can be part of the process. This is referred to as DVD authoring.

Whether audio or audiovisual, large runs will require DVD replication. In this case, a glass master is made from the digital master. Glass masters or stampers can quickly and flawlessly replicate the original work hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of times.

For personal projects or fewer copies, duplication or burning is used instead. DVD burning is inexpensive because it does not require a glass master. It is not used for large runs, however, because it does not preserve the integrity of the original work throughout large runs, as does the replication process. Replication is also faster than duplication, once glass masters have been made.

As part of the DVD mastering package, the DVDs might be printed with a label. There are several printing techniques to serve every purpose and budget, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. A client can choose anything from one-color text to full color graphics. Artwork is submitted in a form that complies with requirements of the service. Some companies employ graphic artists to provide original artwork upon request at additional cost.

Jewel cases and printed inner sleeves are other options usually available with DVD mastering services. Sleeves can be basic, such as those used for many training DVDs, or full-color with liner notes, lyrics, and matching label graphics.

DVD mastering services can be useful to anyone with an audio or audiovisual project that requires a professional feel and multiple copies. Yoga instructors, software developers, promotional marketers, film school students, and artists of various disciplines benefit from these services. Prices vary widely, depending on services rendered. When shopping for a service, consumers should check for package deals and references from current and past clients. They should be sure the materials that they plan to provide are in formats that are acceptable to the service.

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Discussion Comments
By anon3727 — On Sep 13, 2007

What is meant by mastered in HD for a non HD DVD disc?

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