Multiple Form Access for CDs & DVDs

Written by Donald R.J. White
May 15, 2008

Multiple Form Access, MFA, is a present rage in CD enhancements (at least in the eyes of the CD manufactures that are offereing it) - additives made to duplicated discs to greatly increase their perceived or actual value. As of April 2008, MFA is utilized primarily by the music industry to stimulate more user interest, generate more sales, and permit interaction and feedback among end user, distributer and duplicators.

In reality, the average music CD uses about 77% (60 minutes) of its potential 670 MB content (78 minutes), leaving about 23% (130 MB) of available space wasted - or what can otherwise be used or reused now for CD enhancements. Examples include, adding MP3s, videos, photo libraries, ringtones, wallpapers, tour dates, etc.

When the same CD is placed into a computer, the MFA concept permits the user to get much more out of the CD than from a music player. The CD duplication client is charged more for this enhancement process in producing the master content; the end user gets more value added; and (theoretically), the manufacturer gets more repeat orders and even user feedback information.

More examples of CD Enhancement
CD enhancement uses a wide variety of materials added to the audio CD that significantly enrich the value of the originator's project. When placed in a CD player the CD functions normally, playing the audio. However, when placed in a computer, either Mac or PC, the bonus value-additives become available to the user.

Almost any kind of video can be added to the CD, from a short music video to a complete documentary. Other types of materials may be added as well. Examples include photo galleries, scrapbooks with lyrics, credits, stories and comments.

Regardless of the content the developer decides to place on his enhanced CD, CD and DVD duplication companies can also design and develop an interface that suits particular needs and budget. For example: produce a simple, traditional folder which contains the materials to be viewed, or an interactive, multimedia extravaganza that will dazzle and excite the viewers and their friends or affiliates.

The CD Enhancement Production Process
Many of the enhancement materials are encoded in "self-contained" files which do not require the end users to have any particular programs installed on their computers. Other items (such as photos and video) are encoded in formats that are widely supported and common on most computers, such as JPEG, Quicktime, and Adobe Reader PDF files. Interactive programs, such as those written in Visual Basic, C++ or JAVA, are compiled and can be used by all end users since the application or executable programs are contained therein. Either way, nearly all users will be able to view materials quickly and easily without having to install any new software programs on their computers.

What the Future of MFA CDs and DVD's Portend

While much of the above CD Enhancement is not peculiar to the music use of CDs, expect the MFA process to show up in DVD movie and other applications. Examples include video use, data applications, and the business world of catalogs, slide shows like Power Point presentations, and interactive dialogues to further explain a working process, educational material, instruction manuals, and the like. It should be expected that the MFA process will expand in some areas so rapidly, that they no longer will simply piggy-back on music, video and data discs. Rather, they will become the primary, if not all the information on many dedicated discs. Time will tell...