Archive for February, 2008

Defeat Macrovision DVD piracy protection in 3 seconds!

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Macrovision is a piracy protection system that darkens the video image if it is copied from a standard DVD player.

First off, this is NOT a subversive message to coax anyone to break the law. However, there are plenty of times when it is vital to a project to use “copyrighted” material ripped from a commercially sold DVD. Some examples of when this is important are:

1)    You acted or were crew in a particular film and wish to present a clip of your scene in a montage of  your demo reel.

2)    You are making a “rip-o-matic.”  That’s when, as a filmmaker, you create a fictitious preview trailer using clips and footage from a variety of different movies, since your film is not shot yet. This is useful to use as presentation tool to potential investors. Of course you can never broadcast, sell, or otherwise exploit the original material. The rip-o-matic is also useful for creating a living storyboard from which you can plan shots for your own movie in the style of the original.

3)    You want to use footage in a montage at a wedding or other family occasion. For example, you may want to have famous love scenes (Casablanca, etc.) edited together with your own voices dubbed in for a spoof at your wedding reception.

4)    You may want to digitize the footage into your own edit system so you can practice graphics and editing.

There are probably hundreds of other non-commercial uses where you may need to rip a commercial DVD. Of course, I’m not a lawyer and do not advocate breaking any laws whatsoever, but if you really want that footage without the Macrovision (and if it is legal), all ya gotta do is run it through a time-base corrector. Don’t have one? Many professional video decks have built-in TBCs. Just play your DVD and run the signal through a pro deck or TBC and you’re off to the races.


AAKK!!! The large mac files on my hard drive don’t show up on a PC!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Yeah, this is something that comes up once in a while with us. Producers or editors send us a hard drive to which we are to transfer their master videotapes as Quicktime movies.

But when we ship back the drive with the new Quicktimes (.MOV files), they can’t open it on their PC. Then the dialogue goes like this:




But you told us you wanted to use the files on a mac for Final Cut Pro?



Right, but we also need the files to work on a PC so our client can use them.



Oh, in that case… You’re screwed sucka! Just kiddin’ ya. Let’s say you have a 25 GB file that you want to put on a hard drive for cross-platform viewing.  There is no easy and free way to do that unless you by software called MacDrive to install on your PC.



But…. But… But…



No buts. Let me break it down for you:

Hard drives need to be formatted as either Mac OS Extended, FAT32, or NTFS.

OS Extended holds unlimited file sizes on Mac, so that’s cool if you want to use the files on an Apple machine.

FAT32 works on both platforms perfectly. But guess what? FAT32 has a file size limit of 4 GBs!  Jeeze. That’s not even big enough to hold an hour of video. Ridiculous!! Further more, FAT32 has a maximum partition size of 32 GBs.



What??!! Are you kidding me?!



Yeah, that’s pretty damn lame, considering your iPod can hold more than that! 32 GBs is so 1994!

NTFS formatted discs, on the other hand, are capable of holding terabytes of info in one folder. But watch out, that format only works for PCs.



So what am I supposed to do with big files that need to play on both PC and MAC?



Okay. Here are the solutions to choose from:]

1)    Break your files into small junks of only 4 GBs or less and use the FAT32 format.


2) Buy software such as MacDrive for your PC


3) Transfer your large files onto one disc formatted with MAC OS Extended, and another disc formatted with NTFS.


4) Scrap the whole idea and go surfing here.


– Kirk


Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Okay, so you spend three months onlining and color correcting your film. It looks stunning and projects like a Technicolor masterpiece.  Excited to show your friends and reach a wider audience, you decide to stick the project or its trailer on Youtube. And of course, it instantly looks like dog meat: blocky, faded, desaturated and worst of all, it actually skips frames and looks out of sync. Dang it! 


So you in the Youtube film requirements. But when you upload it again, it still looks barfy.


And it will always look barfy because Youtube RECOMPRESSES every single film using very loose setting for Flash video. It needs to make it look cruddy because they need small files that take up small bandwidth since so many people upload shots of their cat looking out the window.


Bottom line: If your content ROCKS, then it will be giant on Youtube. If your content is dependent on pristine color correction and the ideal image, then I’m afraid your film is going to look like dog meat and nothing more.


Shoot for content and story and the world is your oyster.


– kirk