Physical Media: “I’m Not Dead Yet”

In July 2018, one year after I released the restoration of When Knighthood Was in Flower on Blu-ray and DVD, I received an email from CreateSpace, Amazon’s manufacture-on-demand outfit for books, DVDs and CDs. Its subject line read “Important announcement regarding CreateSpace and Disc on Demand”.  I thought “Okay, this is the other shoe dropping…they’re finally getting out of the MOD DVD game.”  I was wrong. 

I’d been releasing through CreateSpace since 2013 had been wondering for a couple years if the end of the line was coming for Amazon’s MOD arm. 

The email they’d sent was to inform CreateSpace users that they were changing the company name to Amazon Media-on-Demand. Not only that, they were now offering the capability to do MOD projects in multi-disc sets and — are you sitting down? — in Blu-ray.

Well, in Blu-ray-R, the burn-one-at-a-time-as-needed version of DVD-on-demand.

I’d been aware of the “BD-R” format for some time, but what I’d heard from some of my friends and colleagues was that there were occasional compatibility issues with some players. There were also the question marks about disc lifespan and the same quality differentials between pressed and burned as there were with DVD and DVD-R. For some, Blu-ray is a bit of a prestige format (remember laserdiscs?), and while the duplicated form may have a stigma with some aficionados as opposed to pressed product, it had clearly passed Amazon’s MOD litmus test.

But DVD (and Blu-ray) players had gotten real tolerant about what would and wouldn’t play in them in the previous four or five years. If CreateSpace was upping its game by adding BD-R, clearly things had changed.

I checked in with my contact at the manufacture-on-demand company that I’d signed with earlier in 2018, an MOD company that was now getting all my DVDs onto loads of other web outlets like the TCM shop, DeepDiscount and the overseas Amazons. She confirmed that MOD DVD was not only not going away any time soon but was still going strong. And that their company was working on adding BD-R to their capabilities, but wan’t sure when all their new set-up would be finished with its thorough testing phase and available for new releases. 

Hmm. So much for the death knell for physical media I’d been hearing about.

Over the past 2 years the Blu-ray-R format disc has come into use and acceptance by duplication houses and by some distributors. Flicker Alley has added the format to their MOD catalog. So Has Warner Home Archive. The long-running indie label Grapevine Video has acquired and deployed BD-R duplication equipment for their vast line of titles, even re-issuing some old ones on Blu.

And I’ve just learned that the aforementioned MOD company that myUndercrank Productions releases DVDs through is now (as of November 2020), doing BD-R.

Hmm, again…

Some final thoughts on Blu-ray releasing and on the status of my release of When Knighthood Was In Flower will be in the next post in this series.

Earlier posts in this series:

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George Burnham

Stay out of the sink. Question… will anything you show be available on blu-ray OR dvd? If so, I want it I can order one as I intend to get a seperate blu ray player. If I tried to convert all my present equipment to the way you are talking, it would take too long.

George Burnham

Ok, so I don’t need a blue ray player then. Right?

George Burnham

Ok got it I think. I may get a blue ray player after all. Is there a way I can purchase your products that you could simply stream to me online?