LIghtScribe Technology

On Black Friday, I finally had the opportunity to purchase some “LightScribe” discs to use with the burner that came in my new computer. Being that I only had a handful of the discs, I wanted to save them for something special.

Every Christmas, I make a compilation of most of the photographs I’ve taken over the year. I decided that a DVD slideshow of those photographs would be a perfect opportunity to try out my new LightScribe discs.


For those of you that don’t know what LightScribe is, it’s a technology that allows you to burn labels directly onto a disc rather than printing it out and sticking it to the disc. As far as I can tell, LightScribe discs have a thin layer of ink on the front side. When you place the disc in your DVD burner with the ink-side down, the laser from your burner etches the label into the ink.

The technology is quite amazing, and it makes the disc look really nice and professional when you’re finished. It took a little bit of getting used to, as I didn’t quite understand how it worked when I attempted to print the first label. I did only really waste one disc, though.

The labels, since they are actually etched with a laser rather than being printed with any sort of ink, can only be “printed” as halftones. You can’t print color labels on these discs. It turns out that any thing black on the label will be etched fully on the disc, anything white will be ignored and anything in between will be etched in lower contrast.

For those of you that have LightScribe-capable burners but haven’t tried them out yet, I highly recommend it. Remember, though, that any image you use for your label will be printed as a halftone. For those of you that don’t have LightScribe-capable burners, I truly would recommend looking for one when you’re looking to upgrade your box.

In addition, with me finally using my LightScribe labeler, I have now answered a question that’s been rattling around in my brain for about a year. A while ago, I started to wonder why DVD movies seem to feature picture discs less and less (in other words, why the labels had gone away from being very colorful and decorative). I now realize that the commercial DVD production houses must be using either LightScribe technology or something similar. They are apparently no longer silkscreening the DVD labels, rather they are etching them with something like LightScribe.

The one disadvantage to using LightScribe, other than having to be more creative about designing your label, is the fact that (at least with my burner) the process is very slow. It takes about five minutes for me to burn a DVD with my burner, and then it takes about 20 minutes to burn the label onto the disc.

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2 Responses

  • Duke

    Curtiss, LightScribe is old technology guy. Time to graduate to full color disc labels my friend. I use my DiscPainter everyday and it rocks. 20 minutes for a LS disc to label? My DP prints a full color label on a disc in 1 min.

  • Wow. That’s pretty impressive, Duke. I hadn’t even heard of LightScribe before I bought my Pavilion back in February or March.

    I’ve never heard of DiscPainter either, but I’ll definitely look into it.

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