Three tips to help get your project done on time and on budget:
Anyone can make a CD or DVD, but a seasoned project manager understands the planning and steps involved to ensure their discs get completed and delivered on time, on budget, and in the right packaging for the job. While each project is custom and unique, there are some universal guidelines you can follow to ensure that your project flows through the manufacturing process smoothly and efficiently.
1. Define what the goals are for your project
The first thing you should ask yourself when planning a CD/DVD project is “What am I planning to do with the finished piece?” Is it a training manual to be handed out to new employees? An exercise video you plan to sell in a retail location? A handout for a trade show? Answering these questions is critical, and will help define which aspects of the project are the priorities.
If the pieces are for trade show handouts or as part of a mailing campaign, you may want to choose a package that’s straightforward and practical, such as discs in jackets, which require less design and production time than most other packages while still providing a full front and back panel of available design space for images, logos, and explanatory copy.
If you plan to sell your product in physical or online shops, your discs will require a UPC bar code and retail-ready packaging such as DVD cases, jewel cases, or DVDigipaks. Retail packaging will also require more focus on the look and feel of the piece, and you may need to allocate more of your time and resources to the design process. Bear in mind – the more detailed and intensive the packaging, the more complex the design. That, coupled with the fact that more people may be involved with the proofing and approval processes, means there could be multiple rounds of design proofs. That means you will need to plan for extra time to complete this part of the process.
Maybe you are printing a training manual or a marketing presentation to be distributed throughout your organization. This may require specialty packaging, and include a supplementary printed piece. Perhaps a presentation folder would suit your needs in this case, as it can accommodate a disc and additional handouts/printouts attractively and effectively.
Is your goal to mail your finished product directly to potential prospects and customers? If so, choosing a package that complies with the strict regulations imposed by the post office, such as self-mailer eco-wallets, will save you both time (the piece is compatible with the post office’s automated system) and money (no extra postage or processing fees).
There are plenty of variations with these packages – including booklets, board sleeves, and spine labels – so a call to a product specialist in the earliest stages of the production process can help you determine the optimal package for your needs.
2. Set your budget
Once you’ve determined the objective and due date of your project, it’s time to figure out just how you’ll be allocating your budget. Get a quote early – before you start the design and pre-production processes. Getting a quote on manufacturing will help you determine how much of your budget will need to go to physical production of your discs and how to manage your additional resources accordingly.
Unless you are a designer, or have design services at your disposal, you will most likely be commissioning someone to do your graphic design. Choosing a professional with experience designing and prepping files for print (such as Disc Makers Design Studio) will not only produce a stellar finished product, it will help save time and money as your project moves to the production stages.
Your project may require additional production services – that take up both financial resources and time – including DVD authoring (which can include menu design and post-production services such as color correction and sound editing) and Direct Mail. Determining if you’ll need to outsource these processes will help you budget the time and money required for these services.
3. Plot out your timeline, including milestones for getting content and art
Once you’ve determined your packaging, established your budget, and set a due date for your project, the next step is to work backward from your due date to create a timeline, assigning duties to those folks who will be taking part in making your project a success.
You’re going to need content (video and/or audio) and art for your disc project. Once you’ve developed a timeline with milestones, make sure you have a project team in place to generate this content. Work with your team to ensure you get everything you need with plenty of cushion time planned in for unforeseen delays and necessary edits. You should also be sure as to the format you’ll need to provide the replicator, so ensure your production team knows precisely what they need to provide you with.
Good design takes time, and you’ll need to articulate your “vision” to the designer. Some elements of the design can take place as the filming or production is taking place. Other elements of the design may require screen shots or images from the finished piece, and therefore will require additional time to complete after the production is wrapped up – so plan accordingly. And remember, design is very subjective, and often takes a few rounds of proofs in order to achieve what you envision, so you’ll want to account for this when putting together your timeline.
If you’re planning on incorporating additional printed pieces such as a booklet or folder, you will need to allow additional time for the content creation and printing.
You may need to schedule a video shoot or recording session, which will require the cooperation and coordination of various people, locations, and equipment. Consider what needs to take place in order to have your content completed and ready to be mass-produced and distributed.
As always, padding your timeline with additional days is important. Expect the unexpected – cameras break, employees call in sick – things can and will happen, but if you prepare for them accordingly, you are one step ahead in the game.