Note: This information is a couple of years old, and may no longer be up to date.
An overview of the types of LaserDiscs and who manufactures them.
Dave Jones Design does not manufacture LaserDiscs. The following information is given as a reference for our customers who need to have LaserDiscs made. We can not guarantee that all of the following is up to date or accurate. For the latest information you should contact the manufacturers listed at the bottom of the page.Types of LaserDiscs
There are basically 3 categories of custom video LaserDiscs. Two of them share a common physical process, but are different because of the price structure and delivery times. The top end is a full production LaserDisc, the next choice is a full production disc with short run pricing, and the low end is a plastic or glass "one-shot" disc.
The top end is the full production disc manufactured by Imation or Pioneer. This is used when you need a large number of high quality discs. Actually the quantity doesn't have to be too high before this becomes a cost effective method. If you need 7 copies, or more, of the same disc, this is probably your best bet. Full production discs are made by first creating a master disc. From this a "stamper" is made which is then used to press out the copies. Discs made this way have the highest quality and consistency. They are also the most expensive in small quantities because they have a fairly high setup fee.
The next type is the same full production type of disc described above, but made in short runs and with special pricing. Pioneer calls these "Omega" and Imation calls them "Alpha". The prices and quality of these two brands are almost identical. These discs are quite cost effective for small quantities. They don't require a high setup fee, and give you 2 discs for a flat fee.
The lower level of custom LaserDiscs are similar in a way to the CD-R writable CD-ROM discs. They use a special type of pre-made recordable disc and a special disc recorder that can quickly create a LaserDisc rather than making a master and pressing the copies. Pioneer has one that they call the "Gold Disc" and several other companies sell one known as "RLV". Pioneer claims that their's is slightly more reliable at a lower cost. The RLV discs come in two types, the "plastic" and the "glass" version. The plastic version is not very good quality and is meant purely as a check disk before making a real disc. The glass RLV is good enough to use in most situations, though it's quality is not as consistent, or as good as the master type discs. We have heard people complain that these types of disc often have static in the audio, especially in the first 10 minutes.
RLV discs are made by a number of companies. Two of them that we know people have used are HBO Films and Magno Video and Sound, though we don't specifically endorse these two over any of the others. Additional companies, including ones in Europe and Asia, can be located through the web site of the company that makes the recorders, Optical Disc Corp.Prices
The prices of these different types of LaserDiscs are not always easy to compare because of the different quantities involved. If you only need one copy of your disc, then the prices are easy to compare, but the cost effectiveness changes quickly once you need 2 or more copies of your disc. In most cases it is probably better to have two copies of your disc anyway, since they can always be damaged by mishandling. Another reason for making more than one disc is that if you are making a multi-channel piece, and the segments are short enough, you can make the discs with more than one channel worth of video on the same disc and then have multiple copies made. This is cheaper than creating several unique discs.
Pioneer and Imation's full production discs have a setup charge and a per-disc charge. The Alpha and Omega discs don't have a setup charge, but you get two discs for a specific amount and then pay a lower amount for additional copies. The RLV and Gold Discs give you a single disc at a fixed price, and additional copies at the same or similar price. From this you can see that the quantity affects the final price.
The following table of prices is based on research conducted in May 1998 and may not still be accurate. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information and it is for purposes of comparison only. You need to contact the manufacturers of these discs to find out the current prices and delivery times. The prices shown are for CAV single sided discs in NTSC format. All of these manufacturers also have faster delivery available for additional charges, and some of them can do PAL discs.
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Magno Sound and Video
Pioneer New Media Technology
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