CD Manufacturing > Packaging > Fulfillment Services
Compact Discs are no longer just packed in jewel cases and sent to clients for further distribution and sales. fulfillment services are needed for CDs and CD-ROMs, providing a turn-key solution to meet the increasingly demanding requirements of software publishers. These services include:
- Innovative packaging solutions
- Special printing options
- Secure warehousing
- Contract packing
- Logistics management
These services are available through Formats Unlimited, Inc. (800) 645-8461
CD Manufacturing > Packaging > Machine Packing
Discs are packed in standard jewel or slimlines cases with paper parts by automated machines and overwrapped and packed into boxes as required.
- The machine automatically takes each case and opens it ready for the disc to be inserted.
- A robot arm transfers the printed discs from spindles and places them in the opened cases.
- Booklets are fed to the machine by another robot arm and placed in the jewel cases. Some machines are capable of handling two booklets per CD.
- The packaged CD can have stickers automatically added and, optionally, can be over-wrapped.
Machines operate at speeds up to 100 CDs per minute or more. For smooth operation at these speeds it is essential that cases and paper parts adhere to the specified dimensions and other physical properties.
CD Manufacturing > Packaging > CD Packaging
There is a wide range of packaging available for audio CDs and CD-ROMs including the following:
- Jewel case (the most common) comprises a transparent plastic case with hinged lid, a plastic tray, inlay card and booklet.
- Slimline cases, a slimmer version with no tray, but with an inlay card (J-card), for audio singles.
- Card wallets, sleeves and many other options are available. For card sleeves the card itself is printed.
- A range of outer packaging is used particularly for CD-ROM discs eg to hold a printed manual.
All these items available through www.rapidcd.com
CD Manufacturing > Quality Assurance > ISO Accreditation
ISO 9002 Accreditation
Quality Assurance is not just concerned with measuring quality and identifying errors. ISO 9002 covers the processes used in the manufacture of DVD and CD optical discs including premastering, mastering, replication, disc label printing and packaging assembly. This ensures that quality is high and defects are very low or preferably zero.
The objectives of ISO 9002 are:
"To provide a base of reference within which a company satisfying the requirements could be described as being capable of controlling the processes that determine the acceptability of products and services supplied to another company."
CD Manufacturing > Quality Assurance > Mechanicals Tests
Mechanical Tests and measurements include:
- Radial Noise to determine the lateral tracking drift from the center of the pits being scanned.
- Eccentricity calculates the accuracy of the center hole.
- BLER is the Block Error Rate before any error correction take place.
- E22 measures uncorrected errors correctable by error concealment.
- E32 is a measure of uncorrectable errors and should be zero.
- Track Pitch which should be between 1.5 to 1.7 microns.
- Scan velocity which should be between 1.2 and 1.4 m/s.
- BLI (begin of lead-in) should be at a maximum radius of 23 mm.
- BPL (begin of program area), should be at radius 24.8mm to 25mm.
- BLO (begin of lead-out) must not exceed radius 58.
These measurements are made at the same time as the electrical signals are measured.
CD Manufacturing > Quality Assurance > QA Tests and Signals
Quality Assurance Test and Signals
During production runs samples are taken from each press and signals measured:
- Reflectivity relates to the depth of the pits and the ability to read the disc easily.
- Asymmetry checks are needed to find out how central the I3 signal is in relation to the rest of the signal.
- I3 is the signal coming from the shortest pits.
- I11 is the signal coming from the longest pits.
- Push Pull is called the radial tracking signal which allows the laser to seek to a random position on the disc quickly.
- Cross Talk measures the difference between the reflectivity from the pits being scanned and the unwanted signal from the adjacent rows of pits.
- Birefringence within the polycarbonate is a measure of the optical properties of the disc substrate.
Special industry test equipment is used to make these measurements and results are printed out and used to assess the performance of the replication equipment.
CD Manufacturing > Quality Assurance > QA in Replication
Quality Assurance in Replication
To ensure that discs meet the necessary standards, sample CDs are tested at the start of all production runs. Measurements include:
- Analysis of the standard signals while the disc is playing.
- Measurement of physical attributes such as thickness and center hole diameter.
- Frequent full analyzer tests to ensure that all electrical and physical parameters are maintained.
All discs replicated are subject to automatic inspection before and after printing including:
- Evaluation of any visual defect such as pin holes, cold marks, bubbles and dimples.
- Automatic checks during printing to ensure that all discs being printed carry the correct catalogue number.
CD Manufacturing > Quality Assurance > QA in Mastering
Quality Assurance in Mastering
The purpose of mastering is to produce perfect stampers with good pit geometry so that replicated discs meet industry standards. To ensure high quality levels:
- Stampers are played on a disc stamper player.
- The first disc to be pressed is verified against the source to ensure that it has been mastered without errors.
- The pit geometry on a metalised glass master can be inspected using a suitable high power microscope.
- Each maiden stamper production run has a PQ test carried out to ensure that the start and finish times of all tracks correspond to the values in the TOC.
Errors which can occur during mastering include variations in track pitch and linear velocity and pit geometry which can produce high jitter in the moulded discs. In addition poor stamper finishing can result in discs with eccentricity and/or unbalance out of specification.
CD Manufacturing > Replication > Replication Lines
The replication of CDs in the past has been carried out using batch processes where each stage of the process uses a different machine. In the last few years integrated replication lines have become the norm. Examples of such machines are:
A complete replication line comprising moulding machine, metaliser, lacquer unit, printer (normally 3 color) and inspection. Good and bad discs are transferred to different spindles. Finished discs are removed on spindles for packing.
An alternative to this does not include a printer. This allows a new job to continue without being stopped while a new job is being setup on the printer.
A replication line comprising two moulding machines, metaliser, lacquer unit and inspection. This provides a better match between moulding machine and downstream equipment cycle times and is currently the most flexible solution. Each moulding machine can run different titles, the discs being separated after inspection and placed on different spindles. Also called Duoline.
CD Manufacturing > Replication > Metallising
The polycarbonate discs after moulding are transparent. In order that the laser can read the pits they need to be covered by a mirror surface to reflect the laser light.
The next stage is therefore to metallise the active surface of each disc with aluminum by sputtering. Sputtering requires the transparent polycarbonate discs to be transferred to the sputtering chamber which is then quickly evacuated of air and filled with argon gas. The argon ions are attracted to the aluminum target by the use of a high voltage. As the ions strike the target, particles of aluminum are ejected and are deposited onto the CD surface.
Modern metallisers are capable of cycle times of under 2 seconds allowing them to be used in duolines where one metalliser can handle the output from two moulding machines. The fastest metallisers can achieve cycle times of about 1.5 seconds.
CD Manufacturing > Replication > Label Printing
The upper surface of a finished disc is printed with up to six colors by a flat silk screen process. Each color requires a different screen created from label films produced as color separations from the artwork. Each color is printed using a squeegee which pushes the ink through the mesh of the screen on to the disc surface. The inks are then cured using UV light to produce a durable surface.
For picture discs five colors are needed. These are white for the base, plus cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). Very high quality printing can be achieved using modern printing machines, which are capable of speeds of 70 discs per minute or faster. A sixth, spot color can be used where required.
Automatic checks are carried out during this stage to ensure that all discs being printed carry the correct catalogue number which is placed on the disc hub during mastering.
CD Manufacturing > Replication > Lacquering
The aluminum layer is protected by a lacquer which is spread as a liquid evenly across the surface of the disc by spin coating. The centrifugal force created by spinning the disc ensures that the lacquer covers the whole disc in an even layer.
It is important that the lacquer overlaps the aluminum therefore sealing it from the elements. If left exposed, aluminum will start to oxidise within a few days.
The lacquer is cured by ultra-violet (UV) light producing a hard protective surface. The discs are then ready for printing.
Lacquering involves two steps in the spin-coating process, lacquer deposition and spin-off. Cycle times of under 2 seconds are normally achieved by either splitting the two steps into two stations or using two spin coating stations.
CD Manufacturing > Replication > Injection Moulding
Optical grade polycarbonate is 'baked' to remove any moisture and is injection moulded in a high pressure moulding machine (press) using the stamper mounted in the mould fixed to the press. This mould is in two parts and provides a cavity which ensures that perfectly moulded discs are produced with the correct dimensions every time. One half of the mould contains the stamper while the other half contains the mirror block to ensure a smooth surface.
The hydraulic press applies a force to the two halves of the mould which are closed. Molten polycarbonate is then injected into the cavity and held in place by the applied pressure while the disc cools and solidifies. Pressed discs, after cooling, are transferred by robot arms for the next stage in the process.
Successful moulding of CDs which meet the CD specification, require stable processes with the machines setup correctly. Moulding parameters which can affect the resultant CD include stamper geometry, mould temperature, polycarbonate temperature, compression force and cycle time.
Cycle times for injection moulding have decreased substantially from over 10 seconds some 10 years ago to under 4 seconds for the latest presses and moulds. Cycle times of under 3 seconds are also becoming possible.
CD Manufacturing > Replication > CD Replication Overview
CD Replication Overview
Compact Discs, whether audio or CD-ROM, are manufactured in the same way using the following processes:
- Injection moulding of the clear polycarbonate discs using a hydraulic moulding machine.
- Metalising to create an aluminum reflective surface.
- Lacquering to protect the reflective surface
- Printing of the disc label on top of the lacquer.
TechNOTE - Buffer Under-run Protection & Its Value in Duplication
What is it?
It is known by many names, "BURN-Proof", "SafeBurn", and "lossless linking" to name but a few. Regardless of the name, they are all buffer under-run prevention strategies. In the dark days of CD-R recording, before we had BURN-Proof and the like, if a drive's on-board buffer became empty, the write would fail leaving an incomplete and unusable disc. The on-board buffer of the drive is analogous to the fuel tank on a military aircraft, which relies on periodic in-flight refuelings. If the jet's fuel runs out, the plane will crash. The host computer, or duplication controller, is the refueling aircraft. If it cannot supply DATA as fast as the drive consumes it, the write process will fail. Essentially, what buffer under-run prevention gives you is a means to pause while the host catches up.
Why do I need it for my PC?
Buffer under-run prevention was really a response from drive manufacturers to overcome limiting factors that were preventing drives from going to higher write speeds. Many PCs were, and still are, simply not up to the task of writing at these higher speeds. The burden of handling so many technical support calls was more than anyone was willing to deal with. The answer was simply to design the drives in a way whereby if the computer could not deliver the data as fast as the CD-R drive required, it would simply pause and wait for the PC to catch up. No coasters, no tech calls.
Why does it not make sense on a high performance duplication system?
A better analogy for CD-R writing when using buffer under-run prevention is that of a car. If a car runs out of fuel, you can simply fill up a gas can, add fuel, and continue on your way. No plane crashes here. Using the car analogy, what would be the down side if your tank was very small and you were embarking on a long drive whereby the distance between gas stations was greater than the fuel capacity allowed? Well, you would run out of gas frequently and find yourself walking along the road to fill your gas can only to walk back to your car, refill, and continue on your way, repeating this step as often as necessary. So in effect, if the host PC or duplication controller cannot provide data as fast as the CD-R drive writes, the drive will pause, wait for the buffer to refill, and then begin the write process again. The downside here is performance. This can take from one to several seconds per actuation of buffer under-run prevention. A one-drive 32x copier from one company might easily out-perform a 52x unit relying on buffer under-run prevention.
The MF Digital difference
MF Digital designs its duplication and publishing systems so that buffer under-run prevention strategies are not needed. This is achieved through MF Digital's own precision duplication controllers and software, and the use of high-speed hard drives, fast processors, and plenty of memory. When using MF Digital's PC based systems such as the Scribe, be sure to adhere to the minimum system requirements.
If you have any questions that might make an interesting TechNOTE or white paper, please do not hesitate to send them in. Please forward your questions or suggestions to John McGrath c/o MF Digital. 121 Carolyn Blvd., Farmingdale, NY. 11735, or email email@example.com, or http://www.mfdigital.com/
CD Manufacturing - Mastering - Stamper Finishing
When the stamper has been electroformed from the mother, it requires finishing before any discs can be replicated from it.
Each stamper is checked visually, the back polished, it is punched to the required outside diameter, a hole accurately punched in the center and finally it is checked on a stamper player before being fitted to the press.
Stamper finishing is an important stage as it will affect the quality of the final disc. The center hole must be accurately cut to avoid eccentricity which could affect the playability of CD-ROMs using modern high speed CD-ROM drives. Also the stamper thickness must be uniform to avoid unbalance problems in the finished discs.
Finished stampers are stored in protective plastic packages ready to be fitted to a moulding machine.
CD Manufacturing - Mastering - Electroforming
Nickel fathers, mothers and stampers are created from the metallisaed glass master by electroforming in a class 1000 clean room environment.
The father is electroformed from the metallised glass master (see diagram) and then the surface containing the 'bumps' is oxidised ready for the next stage. (This allows the mother to be separated from the father).
The mother is then electroformed from the father and is an essential intermediate stage from which the stamper(s) are then electroformed in a similar way.
After the mother has been created, the father can then be used as a stamper. Only mothers are needed for creating subsequent stampers. Additional stampers are created for long runs of CDs.
The photoresist on the glass master is then removed and the glass cleaned ready to be used again.
CD Manufacturing - Mastering - Development and Metallisation
Development and Metallisation
The exposed photoresist surface is developed to remove the photoresist exposed by the laser, creating pits in the surface. These pits should extend right through the photoresist to the glass underneath to achieve good pit geometries as specified in the Red Book. The glass itself is unaffected by this process and acts merely as a carrier for the photoresist.
The active surface (ie containing pits) of the developed glass master is then metallised either with nickel or nickel alloy created by sputtering or with silver by evaporation. If nickel or nickel alloy is used this becomes part of the Father which is created by electroforming so the pit geometry is maintained. If silver is used, the nickel Father is grown on top of the silver resulting in some distortion of the pit shapes, but (for CDs) this is not usually enough seriously to impair the resultant pits.
CD Manufacturing - Mastering - Laser Beam Recording
Laser Beam Recording
A Laser Beam Recorder (LBR) is used to expose the photoresist layer on the glass master where the final pits are required.
This is carried out in a class 100 controlled environment using a high power gas laser from the premastered source audio or CD-ROM data.
The laser can be blue, violet or (for DVD mastering) ultra violet. The laser beam is modulated to expose the photoresist where pits should be while the glass master spins at exactly the correct linear velocity and is moved gradually and smoothly to maintain the correct track pitch and linear velocity.
The LBR is controlled by a PC based system which formats the data from the source CD, U-matic or Exabyte tape with the CIRC error protection and EFM modulation. If an error occurs which cannot be corrected during mastering the controller will abort recording.
Speed of laser beam recording depends on the machine and input media. At one time when every CD was audio, U-matic was the only media used and only allow single speed mastering. Other newer media allow faster mastering up to 4 times, with even faster speeds possible. The following table summarises the mastering speeds for different media.
Input Media Speed Comments
U-matic (1630) 1x Still in use but is gradually being phased out. Audio data is often transferred offline to a faster format before mastering
DAT 1x Not a preferred format for mastering
CD 4x Faster if LBR capable
CD-R 4x Depends on quality of CD-R media used and speed of LBR
8mm Exabyte 8500 2.8x Max speed of Exabyte
8mm Eliant 820 4x Faster if LBR capable
Hard disk 4x Faster if LBR capable
The absolute limit of speed is dictated by the robustness of the glass. For 240 mm glass plates, the practical limit is around 6x for CD mastering.
Network mastering is a new development whereby the data content of Exabytes, CDs etc (containing the audio or othe data) is transferred to a server and mastering carried out from this data (which can be checked prior to mastering) via a high speed network. Several LBRs can be connected to the network and mastering jobs can be scheduled in advance. The result is higher speed, more reliable mastering.
CD Manufacturing - Mastering - Glass Master Preparation
Glass Master Preparation
Glass Master Preparation of the 240 cm diameter 6mm thick glass master starts by stripping the old photo resist from its surface (since the glass blanks can be recycled). This is followed by cleaning and final washing using de-ionised water. The blank glass master is then dried carefully ready for the next stage.
The surface of the clean glass master is coated with a primer and then a photo resist layer 140 to 150 microns thick by spin coating. The thickness should be matched to the moulding cycle time. Shorter cycle times imply a thicker resist layer to ensure good pit geometry. The uniformity of the layer is measured with an infra red laser.
The photo resist coated glass master is then baked at about 80є C for 30 minutes. This hardens the photo resist layer ready for exposing by laser light.
CD Manufacturing - CD Glass Mastering
CD Glass Mastering
Glass Master Preparation
ready for laser beam recording
Laser Beam Recording
from the source CD or tape
Development & Metalisation
ready for electroforming
making the stampers from the glass master
polishing and punching the stamper
Mastering of CDs and CD-ROMs is a complex process needed to create a stamper (used to mould the CDs) from the premastered data. The processes are carried out in a class 1,000 clean room. Operators wear special clothing including face masks and footwear to minimise any particles.
CD Premastering - Data Description Protocol
Data Description Protocol
The Data Description Protocol (DDP) was defined by DCA in Oklahoma, USA in conjunction with other organisations in the industry. There are three or four DDP (streams) files which accompany and describe premastered audio and CD-ROM data, either on the same media (if Exabyte) or on a separate floppy disk.
DDPID - DDP level identifier, Master ID (catalogue number) and UPC/EAN number. It also serves to locate the DDPMS Map Stream for direct access input media.
DDPMS - Information to locate and process each file of Text, Subcode or Main Channel input data. In most cases it also contains enough information to automatically develop PQ subcode data.
TS (Text) - Optional file contains either Volume/Track/Index titling text or Commentary text or Customer information text
PQ_DESC - Optional file contains a PQ description or fully processed P to W channels of subcode data
In the last two years DCA has released DDP-2 which accommodates other formats such as CD EXTRA, CD TEXT and DVD.
CD Premastering - Input Media
The following input media may be used for premastering and/or mastering:
|U-matic||Audio||Yes if PQ'ed||Yes||can include PQ codes|
|Audio & CD-ROM||Yes||Yes||includes PQ codes|
|Audio & CD-ROM||Yes with DDP||Yes||preferred format for CD audio.|
|DDS DAT||CD-ROM||No||Yes||DDS1, DDS2 & DDS3|
Other formats can be used particularly for CD-ROM premastering.
For example, any SCSI tape or hard disk drive can be physically connected
to a PC or Macintosh equipped with premastering software allowing an ISO
9660 or HFS disc image to be produced and transferred to CD-R or Exabyte
for glass mastering.
CD Premastering - CD-ROM Premastering
CD-ROM Premastering includes the following processes:
Formatting to ISO 9660 for Windows (3.1x, 95, 98) or MS-DOS applications.
Formatting to HFS for Apple Macintosh applications
Formatting to Hybrid format with both ISO 9660 and HFS for PC and Macintosh
Video CD, CD-i & Photo CD formatting which is normally part of the authoring process.
Mixed Mode formatting which requires both audio and CD-ROM tracks (with ISO 9660) on the same disc.
CD EXTRA formatting using the Blue Book multisession format with mode 2 sectors and, optionally, with hybrid format for PC/Macintosh.
CD Graphics and CD TEXT formatting including R to W data.
Duplicating CD-Rs of any format using an automated CD-R duplicator. This is a faster and more cost effective solution than mastering and pressing for small volumes (< 100).
CD Premastering - Audio Premastering
Audio premastering includes the following processes:
PQ encoding which adds the table of contents ie start times of all tracks to audio data from any of the following media:
U-matic tapes, if not already PQ encoded, can have PQ codes written to them.
DATs can include continuous SMPTE or ABS timecode throughout the entire programme.
CDs and CD-Rs already contain PQ codes.
Exabyte tapes. If DDP files are included no PQ encoding is needed.
Digital audio editing, which is made easy with modern PC based editors which allow audio to be input from CD, DAT or U-matic, stored on hard disk, edited and written to Exabyte or CD-R. Editing includes compilations, sample rate conversion, cross fades, equalisation, dynamic range compression etc.
Sample Rate Conversion from 48kHz (eg on some DATs) to the 44.1kHz needed for CD.
CD Manufacturing - Introduction to Premastering
Introduction to Premastering
Premastering of both audio CD and CD-ROM data is often needed to convert the source data to a format suitable for glass mastering.
Audio premastering starts with digital audio (eg on U-matic, DAT or CD-R) and includes:
PQ encoding (Table of Contents)
Editing and Compilation
Sample rate conversion
CD-ROM premastering depends on the final format but can include:
Formatting to ISO 9660 or HFS from individual files on tape or hard disk
Creating a disc image for a CD EXTRA disc from individual audio and data
Recording premastered data to CD-R for testing prior to mastering
Duplicating small runs of discs on CD-R
Over the last 16 years there have been many advances in CD disc manufacturing technology, resulting in lower manufacturing costs, higher yields, faster cycle times, reduced energy, smaller machines and improved services to the customer.
In addition, DVD disc manufacture requires new equipment for nearly all stages of the manufacturing process.
The Red Book describes the physical properties of the compact disc and the digital audio encoding. It comprises:
Audio specification for 16-bit PCM.
Disc specification, including physical parameters.
Optical stylus and parameters.
Deviations and block error rate.
Modulation system and error correction.
Control and display system (ie subcode channels)
An addition to the Red Book describes the CD Graphics option using the subcode channels R to W. This describes the various applications of these subcode channels including graphics and MIDI.
Recently CD Text, which also uses the subcode channels, has been added to provide content related information to audio CDs.
The Yellow Book comprises the CD-ROM specification plus an extension for CD-ROM XA.
The Yellow Book for CD-ROM was written in 1984 to describe the extension of CD to store computer data, ie CD-ROM. This specification comprises the following:
Disc specification which is a copy of part of the Red Book.
Optical stylus parameters (from Red Book)
Modulation and error correction (from Red Book)
Control & display system (from Red Book)
Digital data structure, which describes the sector structure and the ECC and EDC for a CD-ROM disc.
As a separate extension to the Yellow Book, the CD-ROM XA specification ("SYSTEM DESCRIPTION CD-ROM XA") comprises the following:
- Disc format including Q channel and sector structure using Mode 2 sectors.
- Data retrieval structure based on ISO 9660 including file interleaving which is not available for Mode 1 data.
- Audio encoding using ADPCM levels B and C.
- Video image encoding (ie stills)
The only CD-ROM XA formats currently in use are CD-I Bridge formats Photo CD and Video CD, the data session of a CD Extra disc, plus Sony's Playstation.
The Green Book describes the CD-interactive (CD-i) disc, player and operating system and contains the following :
- CD-I disc format (track layout, sector structure).
- Data retrieval structure which is based on ISO 9660.
- Audio data using ADPCM levels A, B and C.
- Real-time still video image coding, decoder and visual effects.
- Compact Disc Real Time Operating System (CD-RTOS).
- Base case (minimum) system specification.
- Full motion extension (the MPEG cartridge and the software).
The Orange Book defines CD-Recordable discs with multisession capability.
Part Format Version Date Comments
I CD-MO - Nov 1990 Magneto Optical re-writable discs
II CD-R 3.1 Dec 1998 was CD-WO - Write Once
III CD-RW 1.95 May 1998 ReWritable
All three parts contain the following sections:
- Disc specification for unrecorded and recorded discs.
- Pre-groove modulation .
- Data organization including linking.
- Multisession and hybrid discs
- Recommendations for measurement of reflectivity, power control etc
The White Book defines the Video CD specification and comprises:
- Disc format including use of tracks, Video CD information area, segment play item area, audio/video tracks and CD-DA tracks.
- Data Retrieval Structure, compatible with ISO 9660.
MPEG audio/video track encoding.
- Segment play item encoding for video sequences, video stills and CD-DA tracks.
- Play sequence descriptors for preprogrammed sequences.
- User data fields for scan data (enabling fast forward/reverse) and closed captions.
- Examples of play sequences and playback control.
The various Video CD formats and enhancements are listed below.
Format Version Date Comments
Karaoke CD 1.0 1993 Original VCD for Karaoke
VCD 2.0 Apr 1995 Current Video CD specification
Internet - Apr 1997 Extension for linking to websites
SuperVCD 0.9 Nov 1998 Higher quality video using MPEG-2. Replaces HQ-VCD.
The Blue Book defines the Enhanced Music CD (also known as CD Extra) specification for multisession pressed disc (ie not recordable) comprising audio and data sessions. These discs are intended to be played on any CD audio player, on PCs and on future custom designed players. The Blue Book comprises:
Disc specification and data format including the two sessions (audio and data).
Directory structure (to ISO 9660) including the directories for CD Extra information, pictures and data. It also defines the format of the CD Plus information files, picture file formats and other codes and file formats.
MPEG still picture data format.
Photo CD has been specified by Kodak and Philips based on the CD-i Bridge specification. It comprises the following:
- General Disc format including example of program area layout, index table, volume descriptor, data area, subcode Q-channel skew, CD-DA clips and microcontroller readable sectors.
- Data retrieval structures including directory structure, the INFO.PCD file and microcontroller readable sectors system
Image data coding including a description of image coding and image packs.
- ADPCM files for simultaneous playback of audio and images by interleaving
- Playback program system including playlist files.
Multisession CD specification for pressed discs is a Philips/Sony standard (actually yellow in color) defining discs which have two or more sessions but are pressed not recordable.
The only pressed multisession disc format currently defined is the Enhanced Music CD, defined in the Blue Book.
The latest version of the Multisession CD book (Version 1.0, December 1995) defines the following:
- Data Format (including Sector Layout, Table of Contents, Program Area of each session and Lead-Out Area of each session)
- Data Retrieval Structure ie the ISO 9660 file system.
What is Photo CD?
Kodak announced Photo CD in 1990 and launched it in the summer of 1992. Photo CD discs contain photographic images in a range of image resolutions to suit a wide variety of applications.
Format Max size (pixels) No images Application
Photo CD Master 2048 x 3072 100 Consumer 35mm films
Pro Photo CD Master 4096 x 6144 25 to 100 Professional
Photo CD Portfolio 512 x 768 or
1024 x 1536 up to 700 Interactive presentations
Photo CD Catalogue 512 x 768 up to 6,000 Catalogues
Print Photo CD 2048 x 3072 100 Printing industry
Photo CD Master
Photo CD discs conform to the CD-ROM XA and CD-i Bridge specifications and are intended to play on CD-i players, Photo CD players and other hardware with suitable software.
One Photo CD Master disc can hold about 100 high-resolution images, or four 24- exposure rolls of 35mm film. These discs can be Orange Book multi-session CD-Rs allowing photos to be recorded to the disc in more than one session.
The discs offer image resolutions from thumbnails (to facilitate selecting the required picture for viewing) up to 2048 x 3072 pixels used for making prints.
Pro Photo CD Master
This is used by professional to store images from the larger film formats including 120, 70 mm, and 4 x 5-inch, as well as 35 mm. Pro Photo CD includes Base*64 (4096 x 6144 pixels) to the resolutions stored on a Photo CD Master disc. Depending on the film format, the discs can hold from 25 to 100 images.
The Pro disc format also offers security features such as ownership and copyright notices.
Photo CD Portfolio
The Portfolio system allows interactive sound-and-picture presentations to be created for playback on TV or computers. Along with traditional CD-ROM publishing applications, the discs are being used for business presentations, informational kiosks, trade show displays and educational programs.
Because the highest resolutions are not required on this format, users have more space available for other content, such as audio and graphics. Up to 700 images can be stored on a Photo CD Portfolio disc depending on how much other material is included and the maximum resolution required.
A Portfolio disc can be played on a Photo CD player, a CD-i player or a computer equipped with a CD ROM drive and suitable Software.
Photo CD Catalogue
This is designed for organisations that want to store large numbers of images on a disc and distribute these images widely, such as mail-order retailers, tourism associations, or art galleries.
As many as 6,000 images can be stored at video resolution on Photo CD Catalogue discs for soft display on TV sets or computer monitors. The images are of lower resolution than standard Photo CD Master discs or Pro Photo CD Master discs and cannot be used to make photo-quality prints.
Print Photo CD
Print Photo CD has been optimised for customers in the printing industry.Print Photo CD discs allow three kinds of image data storage.
16*base Photo CD Image Pac files (see Image Pacs) accessible in the same way as conventional Photo CD images.
Platform-independent CMYK format based on the TIFF/IT file (tag image file format for image technology, a standard defined by the American National Standards Institute) to allow graphics files to be easily shared among systems from different manufacturers
Vendor-specific data to allow Print Photo CD discs to accommodate all the resources necessary for production.
Photo CD Image Pacs
Images are stored using the PhotoYCC encoding format, developed by Kodak, which stores data at up to six levels of resolution in Image Pac files.
Base Hor x Vert Comment
x 64 4096 x 6144 Pro Photo CD only
x 16 2048 x 3072 Print size
x 4 1024 x 1536 HDTV resolution
x 1 512 x 768 TV resolution
/ 4 256 x 384 Thumbnail
/ 16 128 x 192 Thumbnail
What is a Video CD?
Video CDs are defined in the White Book. They contain MPEG-1 audio and video for mainly linear video applications. Video CDs are multi-track, CD-i Bridge discs designed also to play on CD-i players.
The Video CD specification was written by Philips, Sony, Matsushita and JVC. It is a generic format which (like audio CD) is hardware independent. The original version was for Karaoke CD as a replacement for the ageing VHD video disc systems used in many Karaoke bars in Japan.
Special purpose designed Video CD players have been developed in the Far East as enhanced CD players with Video CD capability. Generally they offer a lower cost solution for playing Video CDs, as well as audio CDs, but not other CD-ROM/CD-i discs.
Despite the introduction of DVD-Video, Video CD has been given a new lease of life (particularly in China) with the introduction of newer versions including HQ-VCD.
Please note that Video CD (VCD) and CD Video (CDV) are not the same thing. the latter format is a combination of CD audio and analogue video.
Video CD Features
The main features of the Video CD specification are listed below.
Playing time: 74 minutes
Video: MPEG-1 encoded video
Resolution: 352 x 240 at 30 fps (NTSC) or 352 x 280 at 25 fps (PAL/SECAM)
Audio: MPEG-1 stereo and optional CD audio tracks
Stills: MPEG-1 at up to 720 x 480/576 (can be used for menus)
Interaction: Menus to select entry point
Playlists for predetermined video/still/audio sequences
Fast forward and reverse
Subtitles: Closed captions
Entry points: Up to 98 entry points per track (500 total per disc).
Video CD discs also contain a CD-i program so they will play on CD-i players.
Video CD Tracks
White Book Video CDs are characterised by the use of multiple Tracks.
Track 1 contains the following data:
- CD-i application program.
- Track information for Karaoke or music videos (optional).
- Entry point addresses
- MPEG stills.
Tracks 2 upwards are used for the MPEG video data (optionally followed by audio tracks) files which also can contain the scan table information and closed caption data in the user data area. A Video CD disc must therefore contain at least two tracks.
Video CD Directories and Files
Most files on a Video CD disc have predefined filenames and are located in specific directories as shown below.
Directory Files Comments
LOT.VCD Album and disc identification
Entry point list for up to 500 entries
Optional Play Sequence Descriptor
Optional List ID Offset file
MPEGAV AVSEQnn.DAT MPEG files (one per track)
CDDA AUDIOnn.DAT CD Audio files (one per track)
SEGMENT ITEMnnn.DAT Segment play items (one per segment)
KARAOKE KARINFO.xxx Optional Karaoke information files
CAPTnn.DAT Optional extended version of PSD.VCD
Optional extended version of LOT.VCD
Optional list of I-frame addresses
Optional Closed Caption data (one per track)
CDI (undefined) CD-i program and data files
Super Video CD (SVCD)
Philips has recently released the tentative specifications for this new version of Video CD called SVCD. This format includes many of the features of DVD-Video but without the long playing time. The following table compares SVCD with Video CD ver 2.0.
Video CD v 2.0 SVCD
Playing time: 74 minutes 35 to 70 mins+
Data rate: 150 kBps 300 kBps
1.15 Mbps CBR MPEG-2
2.6 Mbps average VBR
Resolution: 352 x 240 (NTSC)
352 x 280 (PAL/SECAM) 480 x 480 (NTSC)
480 x 576 (PAL/SECAM)
Audio: MPEG-1 stereo CBR
optional CD audio tracks 2 streams MPEG-1 stereo VBR
optional 5.1 channel
Stills: MPEG-1 MPEG-2
Interaction: Menus, Playlists,
Fast forward/reverse More interactivity
Subtitles: Closed captions Overlay graphics
(4 selectable channels)
Entry points: Up to 98 per track
(500 total per disc).
Super VCD allows a full length movie to be stored on two or three discs. Multi-disc players can give near-seamless, uninterrupted playback of movies using this format. The use of MPEG-2 VBR (variable bit rate) video encoding, as used for DVD-Video, gives improved quality without an unacceptable reduction in playing time.
Compact Disc Interactive
Introduction to CD-i
Compact Disc-interactive (CD-i) was developed by Philips and Sony during the mid to late 1980s as a multimedia system for the home, education and training. The CD-i specification was originally launched in 1986, then updated but players did not appear until around 1990. A few years later Philips pulled out of the consumer market, after several hundred thousand had been sold world-wide, but now CD-i is finding success in training and other professional applications, particularly in the USA.
CD-i was developed as a more friendly version of a home computer, with excellent multimedia capabilities. Full screen motion video was not included in the original specification but was added later. As it uses MPEG-1 CD-i players make excellent Video CD players. CD-i players are much simpler than today's PCs and are still easier to use and much quicker to boot up from cold. With their TV video output they are more at home in the living room than PCs.
The CD-i specification (the Green Book) is still the largest and most comprehensive of all the CD specifications. This is because it defines not just the disc format and on-disc data coding, but also the player hardware and software operating system.
CD-i Disc Formats
Unlike CD-ROM, which was conceived as a general purpose data storage medium, CD-i discs were designed at the outset for multimedia, ie the presentation of audio, video, graphics and text data together.
Therefore CD-i discs comprise, like CD-ROM XA, mode 2 form 1 and 2 sectors. Each sector contains data of only one type: audio, video (still or motion) or other data. The multimedia data on a CD-i disc is therefore interleaved sector by sector and can be readily de-interleaved in the player.
Each sector contains a subheader used to describe the contents of that sector. The submode byte in the subheader defines the data type (audio, video or other) and other information to facilitate de-interleaving the data. The audio and video data must conform to one of a number of formats defined in the CD-i specification..
CD-i data can comprise one or more 'streams' of audio data, one for each language, for example, together with motion video, still images and/or graphics data. The subheader in each sector can also contain trigger bits which create events which the software can respond to.
Audio data comprises three quality levels of ADPCM (from voice to hifi) plus CD-DA. ADPCM (Adaptive Delta Pulse Code Modulation) compresses the PCM data by allocating 4 or 8 bits per sample and using a range parameter (per group of samples) to, in effect, define the volume for that group. The three audio levels have the following parameters (all levels can be stereo or mono):
Level | Sample rate | Bits/sample | % sectors used | Quality
A | 37.8 kb/s | 8 | 50% | Hifi
B | 18.9 kb/s | 8 | 25% | FM radio
C | 18.9 kb/s | 4 | 12.5% | Voice
The sectors used column assumes stereo. Level C mono can be used for up to 16 voice channels, eg in different languages. The sector structure facilitates switching between languages on the fly, as the sectors are interleaved on the disc.
CD-i provides two image planes which can be combined using mixing, transparency and other effects. Image resolutions are normally 384 x 240 (NTSC) and 384 x 280. Double resolution images are 768 pixels wide.
Motion video is available as an option using MPEG-1, by adding a plug-in video decoder. CD-i players were the first to make use of MPEG-1 video and can be used to play Video CDs.
CD-i offers a range of image sizes within the MPEG-1 constrained parameter system, which defines the maximum number of macroblocks (each 16 x 16 pixels) as 396. This allows image sizes of up to 352 x 288 which is very close to the CD-i PAL screen size of 384 x 280. All but the earliest video decoders expand the video image from 352 to 384 pixels to maintain the aspect ratio of the original video image.
The MPEG decoder provides a third plane underneath the two still image planes offering a wide range of visual effects combining still images, animated cartoons and full screen motion video.
CD-i players are based on the Motorola 68000 processor with 1MB memory (increased to 1.5MB if the MPEG decoder is used), two-plane video decoder (plus optional MPEG) with visual effects, audio processor, single speed CD-ROM drive, non-volatile memory and user interface (normally a remote handset with pointer device).
CD-i players are available from Philips, although these have now been withdrawn from consumer outlets. The CD-i player is now finding success in professional, training and educational applications and, now that stocks of consumer players have dried up, Philips is apparently having to increase production to fulfill the demand particularly in the USA.
The MPEG-1 video decoder was not included in the base case CD-i player, but is an add-in module necessary for many applications. It also makes the CD-i player and excellent Video CD version 2.0 player.
CDRTOS CDRTOS is the real-time operating system designed for CD-i. It allows multi-tasking and facilitates event-driven programming. In many ways CD-RTOS is superior to Windows 3.1 in its multimedia facilities, which only Windows 95 can provide in a comparable way.
CDRTOS was developed by Microware and is based on OS9, an industrial real-time multi-tasking operating system. It comprises a kernel with managers for CD file access, user interface, non-volatile RAM (NVRAM) and audio and video decoding plus a video driver.
The hardware features of CD-i , including the 2-plane video decoder, MPEG decoder, user interface and NVRAM are fully supported by CDRTOS.
CD-I Bridge is a Philips/Sony specification, for discs intended to play on CD-i players and other platforms such as the PC. It comprises:
- Disc format defining CD-I Bridge discs as conforming to the CD-ROM XA specification.
- Data retrieval structure as per ISO 9660. A CD-i application program is mandatory and stored in the CDI directory.
- Audio data coding which includes ADPCM and MPEG.
- Video data coding for compatibility with CD-i and CD-ROM XA.
- Multisession disc structure including sector addressing and volume space.
- CD-i related data since all CD-i players must be able to read CD-i Bridge data
CD-ROM XA Format
CD-ROM XA (for eXtended Architecture) discs contain Mode 2 sectors and were designed to allow audio and other data to be interleaved and read simultanously. This avoids the need to load images first and then play CD audio tracks.
The CD-ROM XA specification also defines certain image and audio formats to use:
- The graphics formats include 256 color modes which are compatible with PC formats and CD-i.
- The audio used is ADPCM (Adaptive Delta Pulse Code Modulation) which is also defined for CD-i.
This CD-ROM XA format has not been successful in itself but there are three important formats based on it: Photo CD, Video CD and CD EXTRA. CD-i also uses mode 2 sectors and shares some commonality with CD-ROM XA for example both use ADPCM audio.
In addition to the main data channel (which contains audio or other data) there are 8 subcode channels labelled P to W interleaved with the main channel on the disc and available for use by CD audio and CD-ROM players.
- P-channel indicates the start and end of each track and was intended for simple audio players which did not have full Q-channel decoding
- Q-channel contains the timecodes (minutes, seconds and frames), the TOC (in the lead-in), track type and catalogue number.
- Channels R to W are for subcode graphics (known as CD-G) and
CD Text which accompany the main audio data.
When the CD was first developed, the subcode was included as a means of placing control data on the disc. The main channel was intended entirely for audio not any other form of data. Since then the main channel has been used for other types of data and the new DVD specification omits the subcode channels used for CDs.
Data Modulation & Error Correction
It is not possible to manufacture CDs where every pit is intact. Small defects in manufacture are permissible and even minor scratches which can occur with use do not usually affect the disc's playability. Therefore the CD specification includes two levels of error correction to compensate for these defects. These are CIRC error correction and EFM modulation.
CIRC - A CIRC (Cross Interleaved Read-Solomon Code) encoder adds two dimensional parity information, to correct errors, and also interleaves the data on the disc to protect from burst errors. CIRC corrects error bursts up to 3,500 bits (2.4 mm in length) and compensates for error bursts up to 12,000 bits (8.5 mm) such as caused by minor scratches.
EFM Modulation - The EFM (Eight to Fourteen) modulation scheme encodes each 8-bit symbol as 14 bits plus 3 merging bits. The EFM data is then used to define the pits on the disc. The merging bits ensure that pit & land lengths are not less than 3 and no more than 11 channel bits. This reduces the effect of jitter and other distortions on the error rate.
CD-ROM discs generally include a third level of protection.
Lead-in/out and Program Area
The area of the disc which contains data is divided into three areas:
- Lead-in which contains digital silence in the main channel plus the Table of Contents in the subcode Q-channel. It also allows the laser pickup head to follow the pits and synchronise to the audio or computer data before the start of the program area. The length of the lead-in is determined by the need to store the Table of Contents for up to 99 tracks.
- Program area which contains up to about 76 minutes of data divided into 99 tracks maximum.
- Lead-out which contains digital silence or zero data. This defines the end of the CD program area.
This structure is identical for all types of CD whether for audio or computer data, although the data itself will vary.
This structure is identical for all types of CD whether for audio or computer data, although the data itself will vary.
The layout of the CD is shown in the diagram, including the Lead-in, Program & Lead-out areas with their start and end radii and other dimensions.
CDs measure 12cm in diameter with a 15mm diameter center hole. The audio or computer data is stored from radius 25mm (after the lead-in) to radius 58mm maximum where the lead-out starts.
All audio CDs are played at a constant linear velocity (CLV) of 1.3 m/s. The angular velocity (rpm) will reduce from the lead-in to the lead-out by a factor of 58/23 = 2.52.
This means that pits retain the same geometry wherever they are on the disc and there will be no change in performance across the disc.
The compact disc comprises a sandwich. A 1.2 mm thick polycarbonate substrate containing pits moulded into the upper surface is coated with aluminum which is then protected by a lacquer on which the disc label is printed.
An infra red laser beam is focused on the pits through the clear optical grade polycarbonate plastic. Pits are embossed into the polycarbonate surface by an injection moulding process.
The aluminum layer provides a reflective surface which is protected from corrosion and damage by a lacquer on which a disc label can be printed.
Compact Disc Parameters
The main Compact Disc parameters are below.
Data includes -Parameter: Value, and Comments.
Diameter: 12 (or 8) cm, 8 cm CDs have not been successful
Thickness: 1.2 mm, Tolerance of +0.3, -0.1 mm
Width of pits: 0.5 microns
Length of pits: 0.8 to 3 microns, Depends on data stored
Depth of pits: 0.15 microns
Scan velocity: 1.3 m/s, Tolerance +/- 0.1 m/s
Track pitch: 1.6 microns, Tolerance +/- 0.1 microns
Laser wavelength: 770 to 830 nm, Typically 780 nm
Playing time: 74 mins 44 secs, Playing times can be longer
Number of tracks: 99 max, Can use indexes to subdivide tracks
Modulation: EFM, 8 to 14 bits plus 3 merging bits
Channel bit rate: 4.3218 Mb/s, Actual raw data rate
Compact Discs are 12 cm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick. The pits containing the audio or other data are about 0.15 microns deep and 0.8 to 3 microns in length depending on the data stored. This raw data is read at 4.32 Mb/s, but after demodulation (17 bits become 8) and error correction the data rate is 1.4 Mb/s. The total length of the helical 'track' of pits is about 5,800 m.
Compact Disc Introduction
The Compact Disc was originally developed from the larger Laser disc for music recordings and uses a similar 'pit' structure. The main difference (apart from the size of disc) is that the CD uses a digital technique where the pits indicate whether a data bit is '0' or '1'.
Whereas Laserdiscs can be either CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) or CLV (Constant Linear Velocity), all CDs use CLV. This means that the pit sizes do not vary from inside to outside of the disc but the angular velocity does vary.
The read head is a small laser diode emitting infra red 'light' which is focused to a beam small enough to read the sub-micron pits. The laser diode is mounted on a swivel arm which can be moved radially to follow the pits up and down to keep them in focus.
A semi-reflective mirror allows the reflected light to pass back to a photo detector. When the laser beam falls on a pit very little is reflected. The changing light pattern detected is then converted into a series of zeros and ones which are then decoded into the original audio or computer data signal.
The word LASER stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers generate coherent light, ie light comprising photons with the same wavelength and in-phase. This allows the light beam to be focused to a very small spot size similar to the actual wavelength of the light itself. The advent of lasers and in particular low cost laser emitting diodes has allowed the compact disc technology to become one of the most successful consumer electronic technologies of all time.
In the late 60s, Philips developed the laser video disc, the first such application of the laser for a consumer electronics product. The 30cm disc was capable of storing up to 60mins of analogue video per side. A low power laser was used to read the video information stored in pits in the disc surface. The video and audio signals were represented in analogue form by these pits which were arranged in a spiral pattern, like vinyl records.
A Brief History of the Compact Disc
The Compact Disc was launched in 1982 for high quality digital audio and has become one of the most successful examples of consumer electronics technology.
In 1984 the CD audio specification was extended to CD-ROM for computer applications and was subsequently extended to CD-interactive (CD-I), Photo CD, Video CD, CD Extra and other formats all based on the audio compact disc format.
Despite the introduction of DVD, the CD is likely to remain the dominant format for music for some time to come.
CD-R and DVD-R Industry View from 2001
1. Industry Background
CD-R Duplication Defined
First and foremost, let's define "CD-R Duplication." In the simplest of terms, CD Duplication refers to the making of one or more copies of a disc by "burning" the content onto a CD-R using one or more recorders. For the purpose of this study, we will only focus on the professional CD Duplication business.
CD-R Duplication is a relatively new phenomena in the field of optical media manufacturing, being born from the process of duplicating floppy diskettes (in fact, most CD-R Duplication equipment suppliers originally made floppy diskette duplication equipment). The Compact Disc (CD) itself has only been around since the early 1980s. Recordable CDs (CD-R) have been available since the early 1990s, and even then, it was initially a very expensive product (the first CD-R "burner" cost approximately $40,000 each, and blank CD-R media was priced at more than $50 a piece).
There are two ways to make a CD with content on it. CD-R duplication -- again, using a CD-R drive to "burn" the information onto a CD-R -- is one way. The other way, and the way the vast majority of CDs are made, is to "replicate" a CD. CD replication is the process of creating a stamper disc with the content on it, and pressing discs from the stamper using an injection molding process. Once the stamper is made and the machine is set up, a disc can be produced in a matter of seconds. The advantage of CD replication is that it is much less expensive to make a disc in large quantities than CD-R duplication, particularly for more than 1,000 discs. Every time an injection molding machine is stopped in the replication process, materials and time are lost. Manufacturers obviously prefer to do large runs, so the unit cost for small runs will be higher. Some replicators will contract for a small number of discs, but actually charge for a minimum number and throw away the excess. However, when large numbers of discs are required, replication is certainly the most cost-effective solution, with unit costs as low as $0.40 (including mastering) for large quantities.
CHART 1 - Differences Between CD Replication and CD-R Duplication
Process pressing discs from a stamper burning (copying) info on a CD / DVD
Cost to Client* about 40-50 cents/disc in quantity about $2.00-$3.00/disc
Time to Produce typically 7-10 days typically 24 - 48 hours
*does not include packaging and distribution
Until the late 1990s, replication was virtually the only way discs with content on them would be made. Burning a CD-R was a method only used when just a handful of discs were needed because the price of a CD-R burner and CD-R media was so prohibitive.
The price of CD-R media began to plummet around 1997 due to an over capacity of CD media manufacturing capacity (see Chart 2). As prices declined, blank CD-Rs could be purchased by consumers for as low as $0.80 per disc, and less than $0.60 per disc in bulk, depending on the quality of the media.
The opportunity for duplicating CD-Rs rather than replicating CDs has exploded. The primary advantage of CD-R duplication over traditional replication is that it takes much less time to copy content onto a CD-R rather than replicating a disc, and in some cases, it can also be more cost-effective. CD-R duplication can normally be done in a day, while many replicators will quote periods of a couple weeks, if not more, for a replication run.
CHART 2 - Consumer CD-R Media Trade Pricing - U.S.(per blank CD-R disc)
How CD-R Duplication Systems Work
In the simplest of terms, CD-R duplication is essentially CD photocopying, much like "Xeroxing" a page from a book. The more detailed explanation is that CD-R duplicators usually require a separate premastering station to create the source file, which can be a CD, CD-R, a tape (DAT or U-matic, depending upon the system's configuration), or an image file transferred directly to the duplicator's hard disk drive. The image file is generally stored on an internal hard disk, and the system's dedicated CPU and proprietary software sends the image across a SCSI bus or multiplexor board to an array of recorders, which will then make simultaneous copies.
Types Of CD-R Duplication Equipment
The CD-R duplication equipment field is becoming crowded, particularly at the lower end of the business, where every manufacturer has something slightly, or even radically different to offer. There are three basic classes of equipment:
The most economical way to create one or more copies of a disc is to use a system with a reader and a writer (or even use the writer as a reader, and copy the disc first to another storage device such as an integrated hard disk). These may be configured either as a computer peripheral, requiring an external processor, or as a stand-alone device that operates at the push of a button.
Copiers are primarily used by consumers. Many PCs come with CD-R drives these days, to copy a single disc, such as a compilation of songs. As it is primarily a consumer function, we will not address CD-R copiers.
We are defining "towers" as systems which have multiple recorders in one enclosure that must be hand-loaded rather than using a robot to move the discs from a spindle ( towers are sometimes referred to as "manual" systems). These may include a processor for creating a new disc, or they may simply be used to make multiple copies of a disc that has already been encoded.
Towers were the first true professional CD-R duplication systems, preceding autoloaders. Towers would typically be used for companies:
• requiring a small quantity of CD-Rs;
• that have access to an inexpensive labor force to change CDs; and
• looking for a less-expensive entry into CD-R duplication (tower systems typically cost in the $5,000-range). Towers have a good throughput-to-cost ratio.
Using an automated system for moving blank and recorded media for unattended duplication (and possibly labeling or testing) doesn't really affect the recording process. There are enough machines available that do include robotics, referred to as autoloaders. Automation and robotics have always been important in the CD manufacturing process, and now they have moved into the recording arena as well. Most CD-R duplication autoloaders have a way to add a disc printer of some kind to the system, for true hands-off publishing.
Autoloaders are more expensive than Towers. Autoloaders are typically used for companies:
• that want to cut down on potential human error; and
• that want to duplicate a large number of CD-Rs without attending to the system (i.e. an Autoloader system could be run overnight).
Stand-alone Vs. Networkable
Aside from the three categories of CD-R duplication equipment, either a stand-alone or networkable system can be chosen (i.e. you can have a stand-alone tower or autoloader, just as you could have a networkable tower or autoloader). Networkable systems allow many people to send jobs to a single CD-R duplication system. Work sent through a networked system can allow for multiple jobs to be sent at once, and those jobs can be prioritized (i.e. if the President of the company sent a job, it would have priority).
Networked systems are seen as one of CD-R duplication's primary growth areas (see Chart 3). Applications include a telephone company that is sending bills to customers on CD, a retail music kiosk, or one of the many Internet music companies sprouting up that send compilation discs to customers -- typically, applications where every CD-R is different, or customized.
CHART 3 - Networkable Industry Percentage/Revenue
Printing CD-RsTypically, the duplicated CD-R would then be printed, particularly in the case of commercial titles. Just as the art of CD-R duplication has come a long way in the last few years, so too has CD printing. For a few thousand dollars, there is printing equipment available that can make discs that are virtually indistinguishable from replicated CDs.
Who Is Using CD-R Duplication?
The commercial applications for which CD-R duplication is being used is growing at a fast rate. We estimate that more than 60 million CD-Rs were professionally duplicated in 1999, and that number will grow to about 100 million in 2000. In general, anyone who needs to store computer or audio data, for whatever reason, is potentially a CD-R duplication customer. Customers range from the likes of Microsoft, IBM or Dell, to smaller companies that perhaps want to put a sales presentation on physical media for its salesmen to use, or simply need to store data. In some cases, consumer discs (i.e. CD audio titles or computer software) are being created using CD duplication. As an example of the many applications for CD duplication, one industry executive even noted that a funeral home customer bought a CD-R duplication system so he could create CDs for family members/friends of the deceased at funerals -- he copied the funeral music, homily and other related things onto CD-Rs.
There's even more potential for CD-R duplication, particularly with the imminent arrival of DVD-R duplication. The much greater capacity of a DVD-R (more than 7-times the capacity of a CD-R) allows for applications such as duplicating video-oriented discs.
There are also a variety of companies purchasing CD-R duplication equipment. Many CD-R duplication service bureaus have appeared in the last few years. In some cases, these were companies that were doing the same thing with floppy diskettes. Many traditional CD replicators are also offering CD-R duplication for their customers -- it keeps them from going elsewhere for smaller runs, and the profit margin on CD-R duplication is usually much higher than it is for CD replication. In some cases, chain stores such as Kinko's are starting to offer CD-R duplication services. Additionally, equipment prices have come down enough that some content owners with a lot of material to duplicate are cutting out the service provider and doing CD-R duplication in-house.
For users requiring frequent small runs of CDs, especially with quick turn-arounds, CD-R duplication offers many benefits. Cost savings is one, but not the only reason for choosing duplication. It is possible to produce hundreds of discs in a single day with low labor costs using an in-house duplication system, and by keeping the entire process under one roof. Tighter security can then be maintained as well for sensitive material. For those with smaller quantity requirements or fewer time constraints, the automated single recorder market has expanded to include several new machines for unattended production. Still, replication remains the most viable and cost effective method for creating large quantities of the same disc. Each application should be evaluated on its own merits, and an appropriate solution chosen based on the full range of criteria, not solely on price.
The professional CD-R duplication industry has enjoyed tremendous growth over the last few years for a number of reasons, including:
• declining CD-R media prices, as indicated in Chart 2 -- it is now more affordable to duplicate larger quantities of CDs as opposed to replication;
• improving equipment -- the introduction of automated, high-speed duplication equipment has both attracted new customers as well as driven existing customers to replace older equipment; and
• the continued increase in the number of CD drives/players capable of reading duplicated CD-R media.
North America is by far the largest market for CD-R duplication equipment sales, with more than half (55 percent) of overall sales taking place in this region of the world. Europe represents 25 percent of the total industry, and is currently considered the fastest growing market. Asia comes in with 9 percent, South America 6 percent, and other regions of the world combined for an additional 5 percent.
DVD duplication equipment is just now beginning to enter the picture. While it's doubtful it will have much of an impact this year, and probably a limited impact in 2002 as well, any money generated from DVD-R duplication equipment would be a bonus to equipment providers. Additionally, DVD duplication equipment will carry an expensive price tag.
2001 and Beyond
We are predicting that the CD-R duplication industry will grow to $185 million in sales in 2001, and $225 million in 2002. Industry revenues for 2001 and 2002 will depend on a number of factors, including:
• the impact of DVD-R duplication, which will probably start to have a significant effect on industry revenues in 2002.
• CD-R blank media pricing, which is forecast to continue to fall, although at a much smaller rate than in the last few years;
• continued advances in CD-R duplication technology, such as the growth of networked CD-R duplication equipment and faster systems, which help drive replacement system sales; and
• the development of new businesses, including CD-R business cards, and the trend toward customized consumer titles (Internet music sites have begun to place large orders for CD-R duplication equipment in the last year).
Considering that the floppy diskette duplication equipment business was a $100+ million industry in its prime, and that floppy diskettes could only be used to store data, it is very likely that in time, the CD-R duplication equipment industry could be a $500 million or more business, considering the CD (and eventually DVD) allows for applications beyond data, including audio, storage and video.
If history has taught us anything, the CD-R duplication business is probably still early on in both its life cycle and growth. Formats such as CD-Audio, the floppy disk and the VCR have all been around for more than 20 years, and only in the last few years are achieving their respective sales peaks. They have succeeded through continued technological advancements and falling prices. Formats such as CD-Audio, CD-ROM and CD-R have bright futures because the next step in technology, DVD, is backwards compatible with these formats (i.e. all DVD drives/players can play existing CD media).
One can get a feel for the potential continued growth of the CD-R duplication business based on projected CD media demand in the International Recording Media Association's (IRMA) Worldwide Optical Media Market Intelligence Report (see Chart 4).
CHART 4 - CD Media Unit Demand - Worldwide, By Region
(millions of units)
REGION '99 '00 Growth '01 Growth '02 Growth '03 Growth CAGR
North America 440 710 61.3% 945 33.1% 1,230 30.2% 1,490 22.1% 35.7%
Europe 540 935 73.1% 1,250 33.7% 1,495 19.6% 1,745 16.7% 34.1%
Japan 100 175 75.0% 320 82.9% 400 25.0% 580 45.0% 55.2%
China 45 120 166.7% 200 66.7% 360 80.0% 450 25.0% 77.8%
Rest of the World 145 230 58.6% 380 27.6% 485 27.6% 580 19.6% 41.4%
TOTAL 1,270 2,059 62.1% 3,095 50.3% 3,970 28.3% 4,845 22.0% 39.8%
Among the reasons IRMA cites for CD media's success include:
• The dramatic increase in CD-R drives as average retail prices fall below $200 (Note: CD+RW drives average under $300).
• The low cost of CD-R Media, which ranges from $0.80 to $1.50 at retail depending on quality levels and rebates.
• The increasing use of CD-R duplication by organizations to duplicate under 1,000 CD-ROMs. The use by CD replicators who focus on large volumes (i.e., 2,500 to 100,000 copies of CD-R duplication equipment) is time consuming (often larger replication orders take priority over duplication orders, hence smaller runs must "wait" in line). In addition, small runs are charged at a premium rate and are usually not sufficiently protected from unauthorized access. As a result, many organizations have set up their own "in-house" CD-R duplication centers (costing less than $10,000 for equipment). In addition, replicators and video duplicators have installed CD duplication equipment to satisfy client's low volume, high speed turn-around requirements.
The diverse product offerings in the CD /DVD Duplication Industry include:
-stand-alone towers -automated print systems
-automated duplication systems -automated copy and printing
-networked based systems
Piracy has become an unfortunate beneficiary of CD-R duplication's success because it is now so easy and inexpensive to copy CDs. It is a major issue among CD-R duplication equipment and services providers, as trade association's such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Business Software Alliance (BSA) have targeted the CD-R duplication industry in an effort to protect their members' intellectual property. A look at the RIAA's mid-year 1999 Anti-Piracy statistics (the latest statistics available) shows the concern over CD-R duplication piracy (see Chart 5)
CHART 5 - 1999 Mid-Year RIAA Anti-Piracy Statistics
Category 1998 1999 % Change
Counterfeit/Pirate Cassettes 249,865 61,420 -75.4%
Counterfeit/Pirate CDs 133,215 70,734 -46.9%
Counterfeit/Pirate CD-Rs 23,858 155,496 551.8%
While organizations such as the RIAA and BSA typically go after the CD-R duplication service provider, CD-R duplication equipment companies who implement anti-piracy measures in their equipment can win the support of content owners, such as Microsoft, IBM and Dell.
4. Technologically Speaking
One thing is for certain, technology improvements will continue to be a critical factor in the future of the CD duplication industry. Continued improvements in automation and copying speed are a given, as is the move to DVD duplication.
CD-R Duplication Advancements
In terms of increased automation and copying speed, there are not a lot of opportunities going forward for CD-R duplication equipment suppliers to one-up the competition technology-wise, according to industry executives. For the most part, all the companies will have access to this technology at relatively the same time. The opportunities that exist will be based on innovation.
There is a growing concern among content owners over how easy it is to duplicate CD-Rs, and there will likely be more legal action as time goes on. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade association comprised of the major music labels, has come down very hard on replicators making unauthorized CDs (collecting more than $30 million in settlements in the last two-plus years), and has let it be known that its next target is unauthorized CD-R duplication.
DVD-R Duplication: The Logical Next Step
DVD-R Duplication is the logical next step for the CD-R duplication market to take, as DVD-R is the high density equivalent of CD-R. The primary advantage of DVD duplication over its CD-R counterpart is that DVD-Rs have a much greater storage capacity -- seven-times that of a CD-R -- and allows for additional applications, such as high-quality video on a disc (see Chart 6). Whereas the primary application for CD duplication include audio and ROM, DVD-R duplication would allow for movies to be copied, too.
CHART 6 - Comparing CD And DVD Capacities
Format Capacity Typical Applications
CD-R 650 MB CD-Audio, games, software programs
DVD-R *4.7 GB Movies, better-than-CD-quality audio, data storage
*Future versions of DVD-R are also in development that would allow for even greater storage capacity.
But while DVD-R duplication has become a hot topic in the last year, it is not likely to have much of an impact on the CD-R duplication equipment industry for the next two years, until prices of DVD media and drives come down.
We spoke with an executive from Pioneer New Media Technologies, which developed the first DVD burner (and still the only DVD-R burner available on the market). He believes DVD-R duplication will not significantly impact CD duplication within the next couple years for the following reasons:
• the installed base of DVD readers (i.e. DVD-ROM drives and DVD-Video players) has to increase substantially -- for example, there are currently about 15 million DVD-Video players and DVD-ROM drives combined in the U.S., compared to more than 100 million CD-ROM drives and CD-Audio players combined;
• a significant reduction in the price of writers and media is necessary (DVD burners and media typically sell for about $6,000 and $35/disc, respectively, compared to CD burners and media, which sell for about $300 and less than $1/disc, respectively; and
• a widespread need for DVD-R's full 4.7 GB capacity must develop, as most of today's data storage applications are satisfied by CD-R's 650 MB capacity.
The number of DVD-R duplication units that will be actually sold over the next year-and-a-half will depend primarily on the prices of DVD burners (currently selling for about $6,000) and DVD-R media (currently selling for about $35 a disc). The equation is simple -- the faster these prices come down, the more systems that will be sold). The "magic" price points (i.e. where they begin to be attractive to the mass market of CD duplication customers) for DVD-R duplication would be $1,000 or less for a DVD-R drive, and $5 or less for a DVD-R disc. These price points will probably not be hit until mid-2001, if not even a little later for the media.
We predict DVD duplication equipment and media prices will have come down enough that starting in 2002, there will begin to be a significant demand for DVD-R duplication equipment for high-capacity applications. Some CD-R duplication equipment companies will start to help their customers make the transition to DVD-R by introducing "combination" systems, including both CD and DVD-R drives. While DVD-R duplication equipment unit sales will probably take over the market share lead from CD duplication equipment around 2005, there will always be applications that do not require DVD's higher capacity, and it will be more cost-effective to choose CD-R duplication for these applications because the CD-R equipment and media will be less expensive.