Let this be a lesson that comments can be dangerous. A couple of readers said nice things about my YouTube videos in comments on a post about writing for money last month, and I let it go to my head. After discovering that I still had all the original AVI files from my FlipCam, I decided to try out Amazon's CreateSpace service for publishing movies. Three weeks and quite a bit of fooling around later:
I have to give CreateSpace credit for the basic DVD publishing process. It was pretty painless and flexible. For example, as this experimental movie consists of videos that have already been published on YouTube and are available free to anybody, I wasn't going to charge any more than I had to. But since I'm not making money on the movie, I wasn't going to invest the time and effort in creating artwork for the cover or the DVD itself. CreateSpace has a plain text option where they just label it with the title and stick the catalog description on the back. All you have to do is send them an original with your order number scrawled on it and the packing slip, and you get back the movie:
That's my original to the left in the picture, they added the bar code sticker. They also added a copyright notice to the published movie DVD. CreateSpace advises movie producers to use Dolby audio, rather than MPEG, so the first challenge was finding movie creation software that would do it. I downloaded a few trial versions of software that didn't cut the mustard, and then found that the InterVideo Win DVD Creator which came pre-installed on my Toshiba laptop could do it. Then I experimented with navigation (I hadn't even known that DVD's had navigation) and probably made a bad choice. Another mistake was not using transitions. The software supported a couple dozen transitions (fades, flips, swirls, you name it) that can be inserted with a single click, but I never liked them so I went without. A few test viewers have already commented that they would have liked some sort of transition or title page in between the videos. Another problem with the lack of transition breaks is that if you skip back and forth in the navigation on a computer using the Windows player, it sometimes plays the last fraction of a second of the previous video along with the one to which you're moving.
There's an option to sell your DVD movies through a CreateSpace store to maximize profit, but if I wanted to sell movies outside of the main Amazon store, I'd sell them direct off my own website. For movies produced by CreateSpace and sold through Amazon the economics were pretty simple. They charge $4.95 for each DVD copy, and take 45% of the list price. I priced my DVD at $9.95, which means I should net $0.52 each, and if I should sell 34 copies, I'll make back the cost of the FedX 2nd day I used to send them the original. If any of my readers don't have broadband and have been waiting on tenterhooks for me to publish a movie version on DVD, it's here. I'd also like to point out that if you click on my name when you get there, I'm not actually in the other movie that comes up. Really.
I did record an introduction for the movie, which is embedded below.