AtomFilms And CustomFlix: DVD compilation service

When I first used CDuctive in 1998, I was hugely excited. Using a Web browser, you could preview and select music tracks from different artists, pick the order of the tracks, pay for it and have it posted to you. The disks would arrive a short while later with a professionally printed cover, listing the selected tracks. I was so impressed with the idea, I thought the service was worth investing in.

These days the idea doesn’t seem that revolutionary. Indeed it appears a little old-fashioned, having been outdated by music downloads.

Today, AtomFilms and CustomFlix are announcing that they’ve got together to offer the video equivalent – DVD compilations of short films. Using CustomFlix’s Build-Your-Own DVD™ service (isn’t it amazing what you can trade mark these days), purchasers are able to choose up to 10 pieces, initially from a selection of 125 of AtomFilms’ shorts. There are a couple of limits – there cannot be more than a total of 90 minutes of footage onto one DVD and each video clip can be up to a maximum of 30 minutes long. In the same way that CDuctive worked, the disc’s content and packaging reflects the selected films. The disc then arrives in the post.

It’s a good idea, a DVD duplication service combined with a content company, opening the market to those who don’t have sufficient bandwidth to view films online. Posting DVD’s is a very efficient method of bandwidth delivery. 4.7Gb of data transfer costs a lot more than the price of an envelope and a stamp.

They label it a “major step forward in the distribution of on-demand”, which is stretching the concept of on-demand a little – with that logic anything you buy or rent is now on-demand.

After a quick look, it is encouraging to see that it looks like the service is deliverable outside the US. An advantage, I assume, of the contracts signed by AtomFilms for the original material being delivered via the Internet – by definition they are likely to have global distribution rights.

What is not clear is why there are only 125 films initially offered. Is it that Atom doesn’t have rights to physically distribute the other material or perhaps the material isn’t held, or even available in DVD quality?

It’s hardly worth mentioning because it’s too obvious, but clearly when broad-broadband is universal, online distribution will significantly reduce the demand for services like this. We’re not there yet, and clearly many parts of the world are far from close to that, so this service does have the ability to last a while.

There are advantages of buying it on DVD, over the future online delivery methods. The purchaser will own the DVDs content, free to play it on the device of their choosing and it will be DVD resolution, not a version compressed for download. If you go looking for CDuctive, I’m sad to see that it looks like it faded away – but that was six years ago.