Thomas (boggyb) wrote,

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How hard can it be to print a CD label?

You would have thought putting together an audio CD complete with labels and tray inserts would be an easy job, no?

Pitfalls so far:

The CD labels from Staples have the wrong dimensions on the guide sheet. And for added laughs, the sheet is ever so slightly not symmetric (the labels are offset 16mm from one end but 15.5mm from the other).

Nero CoverDesigner doesn't have any native support for printing CD booklets/inlay inserts with double-sided printing. That's annoying but can be worked around with carefully crafted paper stock definitions (and whatever other failings it has, it allows very precise positioning of the separate elements). Except...

Some interaction between Nero and Canon's printer driver is screwing with the co-ordinates when printing. It appears to have applied a rotation to the co-ordinates, but not to the images on the actual page, so a template intended to print in the top-left corner as [P1|P2] actually prints in the bottom-right corner as [P2|P1]. I'm fairly sure this is Canon's fault as using a PDF "printer" doesn't show this problem - though it may also be because I've crafted a paper stock with landscape-orientated but portrait-fed A4 to get the correct layout for a 4-page booklet. Still, that can be worked around with increasingly insane paper stock templates.

Oh, and Nero sometimes doesn't quite get the concept of print bleed area right and seems to not bother with any bleed area for the CD booklet. Instead it looks like it scales the label which is not helpful. It also prints circle crop marks on the CD labels which is pointless as those are printed on precut label paper.

And that's all before I try to actually add the images to the labels, and discover such fun things as whoever put the artwork together has added random amounts of padding on the images (especially annoying for CD labels as that means I can't just centre the image on the template), used the wrong aspect ratio for booklet and inlay inserts, and created two-page spreads that need to be carefully carved up into a front and a back image (after removing padding, cropping to the correct size, and adjusting for the now asymmetric bleed offset).

Then comes the fun of burning the CD. There's surprisingly little in the way of CD-burning software that still works in Windows 7 - Nero used to be the CD-burning package, but the version I've got merely implodes half-way through setting up the project. PlexTools fares a bit better but is full of annoyances, like drag'n'drop not working, and inserting tracks in reverse order when selecting multiple files. And then when it comes to actually burning the disc it just spat the blank back out and sat there at 5% forever (apparently because when it claims to support FLAC files what it really means is it only supports 16-bit sample depth. Because of course ejecting the CD means "File format not supported", nevermind that it does show a sensible error when faced with a 24-bit WAV file...).

I swear, this all used to be easier to do even back in the terrible Windows 95 days of ASPI layers and EasyCD.

Then again I suppose we have made some progress - these days, when PlexTools finally decides that yes, it will deign to burn a disc, it can do so at 20x while decompressing a FLAC source on-the-fly and without having to worry about buffer underruns. That's something you couldn't do in the Windows 95 days.
Tags: computing, fail, rant

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