We at Dex understand that our industry is full of technical terms and highly specific knowledge. We expect those new to the industry will need to learn a great deal to have their first order produced. Also, there can be gaps in knowledge for those more experienced. That’s why we created Dexopedia, as an on-line industry resource. We hope that it will be helpful to our industry at all levels - a band putting together their first demo, a business looking for the perfect promotional tool or those within the industry looking for an answer to a question. The entries have (where possible) simple explanations of many of the CD/DVD/Cassette & print industry terms. It’s by no means complete and may always require updating. For this reason, we welcome your questions and requests for new entries. We hope Dexopedia will be a helpful and evolving resource for the disc production community. To contact Dexopedia, go to the Contact Us page.

Dexopedia Topics

Analogue audio or video formats such as tape and records, use a representation of the sound or vision signal that is analogous to the original signal. For example, the shape of grooves on a record, the alignment of magnetic particles in tape or the change in density of an optical soundtrack for film are all forms of analogue reproduction.
Refers to the preparation of a master disc for data (ROM) or DVD video. When referring to data, authoring entails the assembly of data files, programs, images, video clips or any files for use in a computer. For DVD video, it entails assembly of video clips, images, sound files with graphics and menus. A CD or DVD master checked to be free of errors and suitable for disc production, together with a sample disc is generally the result of an authoring session.
An artwork term. This is the area where the background colour or images continue past the print trim line (usually 3mm). Paper parts are cut (trimmed) on a guillotine after printing. Without bleed, a small amount of white will often be seen on the trim line. The bleed prevents this. This only applies to paper parts. Discs have a finite print area and are not trimmed so no bleed is necessary.
A Booklet is the paper part that is inserted into the front of a CD Jewel case, or DVD case. Booklets can have as few as 2 pages/panels (a single sheet printed both sides) or can be multi page stapled or folded down posters. Custom booklets can also be made for different packaging options. The number of pages will depend on the amount of lyrics or information that needs to be included.
A disc provider or bureau that re-sells the services of a disc manufacturer. Usually a disc broker will provide in-house duplication together with other services and will out source replication to a manufacturer. Most often a broker will out source replication to a variety of manufacturers in Asia. Paper parts and/or packaging will be either handled in Asia or Australia depending on the broker’s arrangements with its suppliers. Delivery times will vary depending on whether the broker uses air or sea freight for deliveries from the manufacturer.
CMYK / Process colour printing
This is how full colour photographic images and designs are reproduced in magazines, books and on discs. It blends microscopic dots of the 4 colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black to reproduce full colour images. The most common print method for CMYK is offset printing. Black is referred to by the letter “K” because “B” could be mistaken for blue. Designs with a limited colour palette or large areas of solid colour, fluro or metallic finishes are more suited to Spot colour printing.
Digital, when referring to audio & video is the representation of that signal as a sequence of binary numbers. These numbers are reconstructed into an analogue signal for playback. Binary numbers are comprises of ones and zeros and can be recorded, replayed and manipulated with far less degradation to the original signal than purely analogue systems.
Digital Cassette Duplication
Cassette duplication involves the replay of a master while copying it onto multiple cassette slaves. Traditionally the master is an analogue tape that has its start and end spliced (joined) together in a large loop. The tape is stored in a loop bin so it can run freely. By having the master in a loop the duplication system doesn’t have to wait for the master to rewind before the next playback. Digital cassette duplication replaces the loop bin with a digital playback device. There are no moving parts so it is more reliable and sound quality is improved through digital playback.
A blank CD-R can be recorded in one of two modes, disc-at-once or track-at-once. Disc-at-once means that the entire disc is recorded in the one session, without interrupting the laser. No further writing is possible after this session. This is the correct recording mode to use for preparing a master for CD replication.
DTC Printing (Direct To Cassette)
Direct To Cassette printing whereby the artwork is printed to the cassette shell as opposed to a label. Similar in quality to screen printing, DTC is usually limited to one or two colours.
Copying your Master disc’s content onto blank CD-R or DVD-R discs. This is the most economical way to produce small quantities of discs (under 500). Duplication, or ‘burning’ as it is often referred to can be done on a personal computer fitted with a disc writer or on an automated duplicating system with multiple writers and robotic disc handling to automate the process. It should be noted that some players such as car units do have difficulty playing duplicated discs. Duplication, when referred to tapes means the copying of your master disc’s content onto blank cassette tape.
The invention of the DVD required the involvement of many manufacturers of hardware such as DVD players & recorders, disc drives, cameras and TVs. DVD6C licensing group represents the interests of all these parties. This group ensures that DVDs are compatible with all players. DVD6C, Philips and MPEG LA all have patents on DVDs. DVD6C licenses it’s technology to DVD manufacturers. Many DVD manufacturers don’t have a license with DVD6C. When one of these manufacturers are used, DVD6C is able to claim royalties directly from the customer. All licensed manufacturers are listed on DVD6C’s website. You can check this here:
  1. Select the ‘Licensee List’ tab from the left hand menu
  2. Select ‘Search by Initial’
  3. Select the letter for the alphabetical listing of a manufacturer and scroll down to find them. A manufacturer that is not listed is probably not licensed. Contact with DVD6C will clarify this.
This is the layout template used for printing paper parts. Imposed artwork has all panels or pages of the artwork on one layout page, placed in a specific order. For example, a head to head imposition is where artwork panels are placed one above the other, with the tops of each panel facing each other. Each type of paper part will have its own imposition template. It’s advisable to get the imposition template from the disc facility prior to delivering finished artwork.
License Status Confirmation Document. This is a document that Philips can provide to confirm that a DVD order is licensed. The LSCD states the quantity and description of the DVDs that have been reported by the manufacturer to Philips. A customer can request an LSCD from any disc supplier at the time of placing an order to verify the license status of the DVDs that they receive. Philips provide LSCD’s within 24 hours to all licensed manufacturers in good standing that are listed in its database.
Master Analysis
Testing of two aspects of a master prior to disc production. Firstly that it conforms to the disc standard for the type of discs being ordered, and secondly that all the data on the disc can be read successfully. The most common causes of issues at this stage are scratches or smudges on the disc’s playing surface, an unsuccessful burn or that it has been prepared with software that has not formatted the content correctly. Master analysis does not test whether the master’s content is suitable for its intended purpose, only that it can be reproduced successfully in disc production.
Refers to the preparation of a master disc for CD-Audio production. Mastering entails the assembly of all recorded components (songs, effects, narration etc.). Adjustment to the sound character is usually also undertaken to enhance, balance or repair the components. A CD master checked to be free of errors and suitable for disc production, together with a sample disc is generally the result of a mastering session.
Refers to a process in CD & DVD production. When discs are produced, they are first injection moulded. A clear substrate is removed from the moulding machine and next, a fine coating of reflective metal is applied to one side of the substrate, so the disc is metalized. This occurs in a vacuum chamber through a process known as sputtering. The metal applied varies but for CD it is usually aluminum and for DVD, a combination of aluminum, silver or silicone is used.
Motion Picture Experts Group. This is a video coding technology for digital video delivery and reproduction that we all use every day. It was originally developed as a standard for playback of video from compact discs, MPEG-1. To capture the benefits of DVD, the technology was upgraded to MPEG-2 and its now wide-spread use allows high quality video reproduction from DVDs, players and recorders, cameras, digital TVs, personal computers and many other devices.
The development of MPEG coding technology requires the involvement of many parties, each owning technologies that are essential for the MPEG standard. MPEG LA represents the interests of all these parties. The successful standardization of this technology ensures that all MPEG video files, whether they are on DVD or the internet are compatible with any player. MPEG LA, Philips and DVD6C each have patents that apply to DVDs. This technology is licensed to disc manufacturers who must pay royalties. Many DVD manufacturers are not licensed with MPEG LA. The risk in using an unlicensed manufacturer is that MPEG LA can make a claim for royalties on the customer. To confirm a manufacturer is licensed with MPEG LA, check on their website:
  1. Select the ‘Current Pools’ button and from the pop up list, choose MPEG-2.
  2. Select the ‘Licensees’ tab from just below MPEG-2 Introduction.
  3. This page lists all manufacturers, world wide that are licensed with MPEG LA If a manufacturer isn’t listed, it’s probably not licensed. Contact with MPEG LA will confirm this.
Offset Printing
A printing process whereby the image to be printed is contained on metal plates and offset from the disc or paper to be printed by a series of ink rollers. This process offers the highest resolution and is used for CMYK (full colour).
Optical Media
CD, DVD & Blue Ray are common types of optical media. Optical, refers to the laser-light system used to read and/or write to a disc. Unlike analogue formats such as tapes and records that use a magnetic or physical representation of sound waves, optical discs use digital data to represent sound or video. This digital data is a series of microscopic depressions on the surface of the disc. The laser-light system in the player reads these depressions as digital data.

Types of Optical Media:
CD Audio
Digital Audio Disc, the common music CD. Capacity: 80mins of audio.
Can contain data files or programs. Capacity: 700mb
Video CD format using MPEG compressed video. Capacity: 60mins approx. Popular in Asia where it was used for movie distribution instead of VHS video tapes. VCDs can be played on DVD players.
Enhanced CD (Audio & Data)
A digital audio disc that also contains a separate CD-ROM component. Capacity: Can hold audio, video clips and data for a total of 700mb.
Writable CD format to be used in a CD burner. Capacity: 80mins audio or 700mb data.
80mm CD
Can be formatted in any of the above CD formats. Capacity: up to 24mins of audio or 210mb.
Single active layer DVD used for DVD video or DVD-ROM. Capacity: 90mins of full quality video or 4.7gb of data.
Dual active layer DVD used for DVD video or DVD-ROM. Capacity 160mins of full quality video or 8.5gb of data.
Double sided dual active layer DVD. Capacity: 180mins of video or 9.4gb of data over the 2 sides. These discs are played on one side and then must be flipped over (like an old record) to play the second side.
Writable DVD format available with either single or dual active layer. Written in a DVD burner, the burner must have dual layer capability to use dual layer discs.
Pantone colour / Spot colour printing
This is for designs with a limited palette or designs that use large areas of solid colour. Known as the Pantone Matching System (PMS), each Pantone colour has a unique code number which can be reproduced by mixing primary inks to a recipe. The PMS system also allows for special effects such as flouro colours and metallic finishes such as gold and silver. Clear finishes with different sheens are also possible. The print method used for PMS printing on discs is silkscreen printing.
Paper Parts
The printed paper components that accompany discs. They can be booklets, inserts or slicks, cardboard wallets, leaflets or flexipaks. Or any other paper component that will be packed with or will have a disc packed in it.
Philips are the company that in conjunction with Sony, invented the CD. Philips also played a major role in the invention of the DVD. The CD revolutionized the way we buy and store music, computer games and other data. The DVD revolutionized how we watch movies. In order to have products that become this successful, standards are necessary. They ensure that CDs or DVDs, wherever they are made are compatible with disc players the world over. They can also make products easier to understand and let manufacturers realize economies of scale. Moreover, they can lead to cheaper, more reliable products. Philips, MPEG LA and DVD6C each have patents that apply to DVDs. These companies license the DVD technology to disc manufacturers and in exchange, manufacturers must pay a royalty to these patent holders. Some DVD manufacturers however are not licensed with Philips. There is a risk in using an unlicensed manufacturer as Philips is able to make a claim for unpaid royalties on the customer. To be certain a manufacturer is licensed with Philips, you can check on their website:
  1. Choose the ‘Licensee Database’ tab from the left hand menu and select ‘Optical Licensing’.
  2. Type the name of the manufacturer in the company field and click search.
  3. The search result will display the licenses held by the manufacturer. If the search result is ‘0’ then the manufacturer is probably not licensed and contact with Philips will confirm this. Philips will provide an LSCD to confirm that an order is licensed.
Production Master (for replication)
The Production Master is the disc or tape you supply to have discs or tapes produced from. When you prepare a production master it must be prepared on good quality blank media and be free from defects such as smudges or scratches. Placing it in a good quality case will ensure that it does not get damaged through transit. Your production master will normally be tested by the disc production facility to ensure it can be read successfully prior to production of your order. This does not mean that the master’s content will be tested for suitability, only that it can be read successfully.
Registration Marks
These are marks on the artwork imposition outside the print area. They are printed along with the artwork and are used to align or register each separation during printing. The registration marks are removed when the printed parts are trimmed.
The manufacture of CD or DVD discs that contain your Master disc’s content. The discs are injection moulded with the master’s content physically embedded. This is the most economical way to produce large quantities of discs 500 to 1 million+. Replicated discs are made on large injection moulding lines in a manufacturing plant. They also provide the best compatibility with all players and is the method used for all movie and album releases.
Screen Printing
As the name implies, ink is passed through a screen of finely woven screen material onto the disc surface to be printed. The ink is restricted to only pass through the screen where the artwork warrants. This process is mainly used for Spot Colour Printing however it can also be used for CMYK. This is the same process that is commonly used for t-shirt printing.
When artwork is printed, it is first separated into its primary colours. These separations are used to make printing plates or screens. CMYK printing requires 4 separations. PMS artwork is separated into each Pantone colour.
Used in replication, it is a metal disc which has a physical copy of the master content on its surface. It is inserted into the injection moulding machine so that each replica disc is physically embedded with the master’s content. The stamper is generally stored by the production facility after the order is finished so that it can be reused for reruns. The stamper is sometimes referred to as a glass master however the glass master is only the first step in creating a stamper.
Thermal Image Transfer
A print process that is used for small volume disc duplication. The image to be printed is created on an ink ribbon using laser print technology and then transferred to the disc surface with heat. Unlike inkjet disc printing which smudges easily or early thermal printing that used wax, thermal image transfer provides photo quality reproduction on the disc surface together with an extremely durable finish.
A blank CD-R can be recorded in one of two modes, track-at-once or disc-at-once. Track-at-once allows additional tracks to be added at any time until the disc is finalized. The laser is turned on and off for each track as it is written, even if you are recording several tracks in a single operation. When preparing a master for CD replication, this interruption of the laser does not conform to the CD Master standards.
Trim/Fold Marks
These are the blue lines on an artwork imposition that Indicate where the printed paper parts are to be cut, perforated or folded. The trim/fold marks are not printed but artwork for paper parts must have them to ensure that printed parts are finished exactly as expected.
Turn-Around Time
The production time for a disc order. This is how long it will take to produce discs & packaging from when a master disc and artwork that both meet specifications are received by the production facility.
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