Caring for Burnt DVDs - Tips on Extending the Life of Your Authored DVDs
written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/7/2010
Here is an easy set of tips and tricks for extending the life of burned DVDs that you have authored.
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Burning DVDs are a regular part of home digital video production for almost every demographic. The home centered video workflow usually includes DVD authoring software like DVD Studio Pro and it is now both easier and cheaper to get your videos onto a burnable DVD than a VHS tape. Until the days when we shift from physical DVD authoring to only digital copies we will see a growing library of home burned DVDs. Unlike most professional DVDs that come from large scale DVD authoring companies we often do not have either the quality in the DVD or the protective elements in the labels or case for the DVDs you create yourself. Since we want our DVDs to actually last more than a few weeks, especially if we are using them for data back up or the only copy of a certain video project, there are certain things we have to observe to extend their lives.
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In most ink you will find a generally acidic quality that can eventually harm the delicate balance that makes authored DVDs work. Most people tend to burn a DVD and then write on it with a Sharpie or other felt pen. This should be avoided as it will maintain a corrosive quality on the disc and eventually compromise its integrity. To avoid this you can include a complete labeling system, which is often supported by professional DVD authoring software. Here you can design and print your own DVD label and apply it to your burned DVD, therefore allowing you to label it without using ink on the disk and apply another protective label from damage.
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Burned DVDs tend to be a little more vulnerable to scratches and skipping, which is often hard to go back from once it occurs. This means that these burned DVDs must be protected from small debris even more than standard DVDs. Instead of allowing the DVD to sit in open air for any amount of time it must have an assigned case that it is placed in right from the start. Usually a label can be created for that DVD case at the same time you are doing it for the disc. If create a specific case label and assign the case you will ensure that it has a better chance of making it into the case every time, which will also lower the risk of getting caught.
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Expect ahead of time that your burned DVD is not going have the shelf life you will want. The best counterpunch to this is to simply return to the digital copy, which is where you should be focused from the start. Do not just save your base digital editing file, but save absolutely every single element of the post-production workflow. Save your compressed files and save the DVD authoring files completely intact. What this will do is give you all the elements to simply re-burn your DVD once it loses its life.