Long Live the Blu-ray Disc … well sort of

The much predicted death of the HD DVD format, while in a way cause for celebration as a consumer, does little for us as content producers and here is why…

If you are a content producer (like my company Stonehenge) Blu-ray disc production is now the only way to left to distribute High Definition product reliably and easily for any number of uses, eg retail, sales, corporate display, games, etc etc. HD DVD were very similar to regular DVDs in terms of workflow…however with Blu-ray it’s not quite so simple..at least for the time being.

But if you haven’t created a Blu-ray disc for replication as of yet (we have done a few Blu-rays so far) you are in for a bit of a nasty shock, as I was …govern yourself accordingly! You need to remember that the creation of Blu-ray discs was not just about quality (quality is, of course, fantastic), it was also about finding better ways to enforce copyright protection. For Sony as a content creator, this was a rather big issue and a real priority. So what it means for us as Producers / Publishers is be prepared to go through a series of additional challenges and costs that will add much time and money to your project’s replication process. It is also very frustrating to say the least.

Get a Licence

1. You will need to acquire a Master AASC Licence to be able to get a key # to produce any kind of Blu-ray title (it will take months to get this Master Licence) and you will have to be approved to get it too; there are a lot of forms to fill out. Costs vary depending on use of the disc, ie. games, movies, etc., and will go from $5,000 to $15,500 USD (est)!!.

Get A Key

2. You will then need to get a Key once you have your Master License. This key is a special code number which is required by the replicator before you can even begin the replication process. The keys cost around $500 USD. Note: many authoring studios require this key even to try and produce your preliminary test disc.

Get an ISAN number (whatever the hell that is)

3. You will also need to get a special ISAN #, which is like an official catalogue number so that your project can be tracked. This also takes time and costs about $100.

Prove you own it !!

4. Before you can duplicate your disc, your replication studio (eg CINRAM or SONY) will require some hard copy proof of ownership of all copywritten materials …including soundtrack agreements, talent agreements, etc., with full details. BTW, some of these folks have rather sophisticated electronic ways of checking your project to see if you have purchased rights.

And finally after all that, be prepared to wait 2 extra months to get your disc made because the big studios have all the priority in the replication houses, which for the next two years will still be well under capacity!! Let’s hope they find ways to make this process a wee bit easier next time I make a disc.

No kidding… I am still very much hurting from the experience of trying to make these first Blu-ray projects happen.


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