Blu-ray discs have given new life to the realm of optical storage, offering unmatched video quality and a new range of potential features that helped the format become a favorite of major studios and carve out a following among consumers. However, the technology is considerably less friendly to smaller studios, with its high manufacturing costs and formatting demands putting Blu-ray replication out of reach for many small and independent filmmakers.

So far, the most cost effective solution to this mismatch between consumer demand and production cost is to avoid using replication for small orders, and turn to a Blu-ray duplicator instead. Using duplication can help to make short-run Blu-ray productions affordable, putting high definition content within the reach of a wider publishing base.

The difference between the two techniques generally mirrors their counterparts for CD-ROM or DVD technology. Blu-ray replication involves creating a glass master disc, providing a mold that can stamp data into a blank Blu-ray disc as it is being formed from liquid polycarbonate, before a protective lacquer is hard coated onto the new disc. By contrast, a Blu-ray duplicator will use a laser to burn the data directly onto a pre-made, empty Blu-ray disc, bypassing the need for the costly glass master.

And while the Blu-ray replication process follows the same basic principle as that for CDs or DVDs, several extra steps have been built in. All replicated Blu-ray discs must include AACS copy protection, for instance, which can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the initial cost, and the hard coating that protects the disk from damage means an extra expense. Blu-ray discs can also include two data layers, which double their storage capacity but require very precise application.

Thanks to these requirements, the cost of replicating a Blu-ray disc can run two to three times as high as that for a DVD. The difference in price will drop considerably after the first 1,000 units, which allows mass-produced Blu-ray discs to be sold at a price much closer to that for DVDs. But since mass production is obviously not an option for short-run publishers, cost has been the primary obstacle pushing them away from Blu-ray technology entirely.

A Blu-ray duplicator, on the other hand, is a much closer match for the original CD and DVD technique. Automated disc publishing and duplication equipment can allow your business to produce high definition, commercial quality Blu-ray discs as needed, with production runs that can be as small as one single disc. Because replication is still more cost effective for large runs of more than 1,000 discs, even publishers that produce on this scale can improve efficiency by using duplication for smaller runs, or productions where they wish to avoid the high levels of inventory that come with replication.

Blu-ray technology has proven its consumer appeal, offering unmatched data and video quality to keep up with the spread of HD technology throughout the American consumer base. Duplication offers an opportunity to make short run Blu-ray productions a viable option for the first time, especially since Blu-ray duplicators and publishers are becoming steadily more affordable. Duplication brings a valuable level of flexibility to Blu-ray publishing, creating a new range of possibilities for publishers to explore.

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