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MPAA Ruins Own Films As Anti-Piracy Measure

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the if-i-can't-have-it-no-one-will dept.

Movies 732

WCityMike writes "Steve Kraus, a Chicago film projectionist, noted in this week's Movie Answer Man column that movie studios are quite purposefully putting 'large reddish brown spots that flash in the middle of the picture, usually placed in a light area' in order to ruin computer-compressed pirated copies of films. Among recent films that feature these spots are 'Ali,' 'Behind Enemy Lines,' '28 Days Later,' 'Freddy vs. Jason' and 'Underworld.' (I guess they had to destroy the movies in order to save them ... )"

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732 comments

someone had to say it... (5, Funny)

Transient0 (175617) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144492)

They've been doing this for years. It's a simple plan: make movies so bad no one will want to copy them.

Re:someone had to say it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144515)

That's bullshit [wabshirts.com]

Re:someone had to say it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144628)

dude, your website is all fsck'ed up... learn some html, it easy.

http://validator.w3.org/

Re:someone had to say it... (5, Funny)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144538)

Hey, it worked for Metallica. How many people do you honestly think kept a copy of St. Anger on their hard drive?

I have 100 gigs of space, and I still wouldn't spare three megs of my valuable diskspace for that piece of crapola....

Re:someone had to say it... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144561)

"It's a simple plan: make movies so bad no one will want to copy them. " ...Or even watch them.

Honestly, I feel some movies are SOOOO bad as to have STOLEN my time. Too bad we can't go after the movie studios for false advertising. I guess if you compress all the good parts of a movie into a 3min "preview", then even the shittiest of movies can look like Oscar nominees.

Re:someone had to say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144569)

Seriously, ever tried to find a copy of Gigli [yahoo.com] on Kazaa or Suprnova? Just not there.

Re:someone had to say it... (2, Interesting)

pVoid (607584) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144669)

Yeah, they even put the crap codes on all the bad films...

Are they aware that I would never consider spending a dime on Freddy Vs. Jason and that the only way I would watch that movie is if I download it?

I mean, a good movie comes out, I go see it in the theatre just for the experience. A shit movie comes out, I don't go see it. It's not called piracy, it's called shit.

Ah who fucking cares (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144497)

They suck anyway.

sp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144500)

Second Post?

I have to wait 20 seconds for some reason.

Hmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144505)

Well, tell that to my DivX copies of The Itallian Job, Freddy vs Jason, and 28 Days Later :)

Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144507)

Finally found a good topic to work on for my Master's thesis in Digital Signal Processing.

Too late (2, Funny)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144509)

Judging from the few movies I've seen this year, I'd say the directors had already ruined them. The brown spot is unnecessary.

Hmmm... I didn't even notice (4, Funny)

reezle (239894) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144510)

I just watched 28 days later the other night (loved it). I didn't even notice that the film was ruined. Just to be sure though, I should probably download a copy and see how much better it could have been w/o the spots?

Re:Hmmm... I didn't even notice (2, Interesting)

Snowdrake (139057) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144659)

One of the things I noticed in the article is that the spots actually vary on a print-by-print basis. So maybe they just release "spotted" prints to houses where they suspect piracy problems.

Best trolls of all time (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144512)

Could you please post a list of links to your favo[u]rite trolls and other well known/legendary trolls?

It would help me a lot in creating new and exciting trolls, nothing like the same old 'YOU FAIL IT' and random sentences where GAY, FAG and NIGGER is thrown in everywhere.

Thanks in advance!

brown spots? (4, Insightful)

blake8087 (688462) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144514)

i don't understand why they don't flash something more useful - like a serial number - so that they can identify where and when the illegal copy was made.

Re:brown spots? (-1, Troll)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144588)

MPAA executives are just experimenting with brown spots in order to make their next devastating move against the rebellion.

That's fine by me, but I don't want to wait for the black spot [goatse.cx] copy protection.

Yes, sir. That's when I'll give up downloading pirated moves. I will!

Re:brown spots? (3, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144640)

The trouble is that you just can't mass produce DVDs and include this sort of serialization... DVDs that you buy in the stores are pressed (instead of burned), so by definition they all end up having the same image.

I would imagine that the next gen of video recording format (whatever replaces DVD) will have built-in rights management a la Windows registration. This might be a Good Thing from a pure "rights" point of view: if you could, say, allow a certain player to play only certain titles (to which it has a license), you'd be able to allow backup copies and even concievably control fair use (albiet in a terrifically annoying Big Brother fashion). That's why they're fighting the DeCSS so hard -- if they lose control of the player, they effectively lose control of the whole ball of wax -- anybody could build a player or player software which disregards the rights management.

Eventually, though, I'm confident they'll work out a way to restrict digital copies well enough that only a very few dedicated people will still be able to produce them, at which point it's not really a problem (from the MPAA/RIAA's standpoint) anymore. This only works when it's easy, after all...

bleh (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144519)

Gimme a flipping break. You don't even see the dots. Also, they aren't visible for the entire film, just a few frames. So bite me.

Re:bleh (2, Interesting)

Dashing Leech (688077) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144572)

Maybe not, but I've been annoyed for years by the big spots they use for scene changes. About 10 seconds before a scene change there is always a huge dot in the upper right corner, then again about 1 second before the change. I never used to notice them until I read about them, now I see them all the time in the theatre and I hate it. Ignorance can be bliss, I guess.

P.S. Yes, I know I may have just ruined it for a bunch of you too, but why should I be the only one to suffer. (=

Re:bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144607)

congratulations on watching fight club like almost everyone else.

Re:bleh (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144645)

It's to indicate a reel change -- so the guys running the projector(s) can switch over. It's usually unecessary now since most theatres splice the individual reels into one long film, on a special spool that can feed multiple projectors...

What's next? (2, Funny)

zapp (201236) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144522)

So we have the cigarette burn marks...what's next?

Pictures of a big, fat, cock spliced into family films? :)

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144568)

they arent cig burns. they're dots aranged in a specific pattern at certain times in the movie.

Re:What's next? (2, Funny)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144586)

I say we skip that and get top the part where we tie a rubber band around Valenti's balls

"We are the people who STILL watch your crappy movies..."

The mods have seen too many red dots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144634)

The post above is not a troll, but a rather apt reference to Fight Club.

Re:What's next? (3, Insightful)

ctxspy (94924) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144670)

I wish i had mod-points....These fucking people are idiots.

FIGHT CLUB.. did anyone see the movie FIGHT CLUB!!

Main character splices bits of raunchy shit into the movies, people get freaked out when they see it, but aren't sure it was really there because it flashes too quickly.

ITS A FRIEKIN REFERENCE TO A MOVIE!

From the industry that brought you Terminator 3 (4, Funny)

weierstrass (669421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144524)

How lucky for them that all compression formats are fixed in stone and can never be changed.

Also that the pirating industry doesn't have any resources it could dedicate to changing said file formats.

As if they weren't bad enough already (4, Funny)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144527)

I mean, how exactly does one RUIN Freddy v Jason? Isn't that kind of like trying to invent whiffle lace?

solution? (5, Funny)

micronix1 (590179) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144528)

they should blast the audience with emp energy. take out cell phones and cameras alike. no cameras = no piracy. maybe they can even make one for loud annoying kids.

Re:solution? (0, Funny)

jmv (93421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144603)

maybe they can even make one for loud annoying kids.

Sssssh. The next thing they'll do is *pay* loud annoying kids as an anti-piracy measure for the soundtrack.

The real solution (0)

Eric Ass Raymond (662593) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144646)

If the copy-protection scheme is to succeed, it must be as undetectable as possible by the end user. I don't mean that he won't realize he's using a copy-protected format, but that his ears won't be able to tell the difference between a copy-protected one and a non-protected one.

VHS macrovision is popular precisely because it's undetectable in how it alters visual quality. You'll hear lots of complaints by people who are unable to copy videos correctly, but you'll never hear a complaint by anyone about how macrovision has degraded their signal -- it hasn't.

We're almost at the stage where digital watermarks are completely seamless. Ten years ago, inititives like this would've been scoffed at. Now, they're becoming reality.

Back at MPAA headquarters.... (4, Funny)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144533)

"Let's see how we can piss off and ailienate our customers some more. Oh I know, let's give them even less of a reason to buy, view or care about movies. That'll teach em."

Why not pink or blue spots? (2, Insightful)

dkoudijs (696167) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144535)

I mean if they keep adding stuff like this, people will start to notice, and not buy moives at all. Which I think is where like 50% of there profit comes from. Sorry guys but I have tons of simpsons episodes on my hardrive, but I still buy the DVD because it looks nicer. Don't mess with the format.

Re:Why not pink or blue spots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144590)

people continue to support movies and music even though they are horrible. When "School of Rock" is supposedly one of the best movies in the past several years you have to wonder why even bother?

I don't tend to goto too many movies because of cost alone... Bad movies, high costs, and offering little better than what I get sitting on my couch watching for free via DiVX?

I have seen several movies this year in the theatre and was pretty disappointed (LOTR, Matrix Reloaded, Harry Potter, and Gangs of NY). I paid $9 to watch the film in an uncomfortable chair (watching from my couch is far better) in a theatre that was either too hot or too cold (I am much happier in my own preferred climate), and I had to listen to idiots talking, answering their ringing cell phones, and sticking their two-sense in where it didn't belong.

Just keep releasing those DVDs fast and I am more likely not to download a DiVX copy.

Re:Why not pink or blue spots? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144650)

Not to mention the kids (including adults who act like kids in 18+ movies) who are bored (because the movie sucks) and decide to throw their popcorn or other such items at random people in the cinema, plus the occasional fight when one of the said kids throw something at the wrong person

Re:Why not pink or blue spots? (2, Informative)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144625)

I have the Simpsons Season One on DVD and it most certainly does NOT look good. They compressed the hell out of it just to save pressing a couple more DVDs and do it properly.

edit the frames? (4, Insightful)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144536)

I'm sure it couldn't be that hard to edit the "ruined" frames, no? Final Cut Pro anyone?

Re:edit the frames? (0)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144633)

The compression is non-linear delta based. Although it's easy enough (with the right hardware) to decode to your screen for viewing, you can't just edit a single frame. You would need to decode teh DIV/mpeg/etc to a raw frame-by-frame format (a few hundred gigs for the average movie), then edit the individual frames, then recompress.

That's going to result in a lower quality movie overall from the dual compression.

Neo Ranga... (3, Insightful)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144541)

The anime series Neo Ranga was converted from a low quality analog format to make the DVDs, and they have so many artifacts that when encoded in DivX, DivX ;), 3ivX or XviD, many large brown spots arise which completely ruin the rips. Better copy-protection than anything I've ever seen...

repeat (1)

poison_reverse (647609) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144545)

didnt they do this to music too?- by adding jitters and damage to the tracks that were to subtle to be heard but very picked up by sensitive burning software. This may only affect those pirates that copy movies right of the screens but not the pirated screeners and leaked movies that come out of the studio...

Celluloid Crap (5, Funny)

hirschma (187820) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144548)

I've been saying for years that the big studios are just flinging shit onto film. Now we have more direct evidence :)

Didn't see it (2, Informative)

ajs (35943) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144549)

I've seen a couple of these films, and I did not see this. I'm wondering if it's just a single frame (BTW that makes it illegal in the US) or if it's only in certain theaters....

Re:Didn't see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144600)

> (BTW that makes it illegal in the US)

care to elaborate?

Re:Didn't see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144614)

that makes it illegal in the US

How's that? I don't remember hearing about any laws that limit how the movie studios edit their films. Can't they argue that a large brown dot is simply a special-effect?

Re:Didn't see it (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144671)

Because when I see that large brown spot?
I want to go out and buy a can of brown spray paint and paint the whole city in large, round brown spots!

That is how its illegal. Injecting thoughts into my mind so I go out and buy stuff. Also, I will be defacing the city..

Officer I didn't do it! The MPAA made me do it!
If you watched the movie, you would want to buy a can of spray paint too!

-Grump

Re:Didn't see it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144657)

I'm wondering if it's just a single frame (BTW that makes it illegal in the US)


Care to cite us to a particular law that "makes it illegal in the US," Clarence Darrow, Jr.? "I'm pretty sure it qualifies as subliminal advertising" doesn't cut it in the specificity department, as "pretty sure" isn't really verifiable, and it's hard to see how a simple red dot constitutes "advertising". And in any event, there are no federal or state laws governing subliminal advertising, since the whole idea is a pile of monkey stool.

Please keep your uninformed legal opinions to your own hygenically-challeneged self.

Re:Didn't see it (1)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144662)

I noticed the spots several times in Underworld, and it was actually pretty annoying. I didn't realize what they were tho, I thought perhaps they were some version of the dots movies always had when reels were aligned. Guess now I know.

On the upside, I guess I shouldn't worry too much about them, that movie isn't worth paying for a DVD version. ;-)

[in case anyone's wondering, *no*, that doesn't mean I'll pirate it - just that i'll not watch it again]

reminds me of fight club (1)

civilengineer (669209) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144554)

are they also inserting some frames from other movies along with these 'cigarette spots'

Re:reminds me of fight club (1)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144605)

ya know whats funny, i never really noticed those before i saw fight club, but now i cant help but see them in EVERY movie i watch in theatres.

This was never the intention at all (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144558)

It's actually based on a simply principle that people expect to see typical amounts of red, green and blue in the world. Over time, if the balance in a certain area is offset, the subconcious realises and looks for a pattern in the ionformation.

The Kodak system simply spreads a subliminal message across the length of the film, to convince you that you have enjoyed it. Simple psychology.

Filter it out (5, Insightful)

Roger_Wilco (138600) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144562)

Unless these spots are particularly difficult to identify, someone need only write a filter to detect them and fill in the offending space, possibly with the average of the previous and next frame.

good job! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144564)

Piracy is out of control in today's world. I am very excited about this new feature of brown spots on my screen. There is nothing like watching ashley judd when a brown spot is displayed between her legs. Does she have diarrhea? Or is that a dried blood stain on her leg from her period a week ago?

The problem with these tactics are that they dont work when they want to work because when they do work they work only as a work around for the working tactics already in place.

I watched the DL'ed version of one of these and... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144566)

Did not notice anything wrong with it at all. My guess is that the compression actully filtered the spot rather than enhanced it.

It's not anti-piracy... (5, Funny)

The_Rippa (181699) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144567)

It's just Tyler Durden messing around again. Look closely and you'll find it's a penis.

Okay, so now they know. Now what? (5, Interesting)

preric (689159) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144570)

Let's pretend I sneak a video camera (yes, I know it's more technical, trying to make a point) in my local theater and record the film, then run home, encode it and upload it to the world.

The movie company then downloads the film, see's the spots and tracks it to my theater. Now what? Are they going to shake down the theater owners, untill they install security and metal detectors?

How does this really prevent anything, aside from viewers like me having just ANOTHER excuse to wait until the DVD comes ou and rent that, rather then deal with tampered film (among the other lame problems of theater viewing, like ticket prices, travel, lines, food, seating, etc)?

if its in the movie (1)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144573)

how exactly does this ruin a compressed version? messing up the difference values? wouldnt it just wash on the next frame?

and then, isnt this noticeable to people who are watching the DVD anyway?

Copy release tracking? (2, Interesting)

grondak (80002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144575)

I saw the dots on Underworld--don't judge me by my taste in movies, please! I thought the dots might be some form of coded serial number to track the relationship between theaters and films. If someone were stupid enough to send out the film over the Internet with the dots on it, the MPAA movie police might have a better chance to catch the person-- especially if the film gets out before any embargo dates.

Quick, patent this!

A much easier way... (1)

zerosignal (222614) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144578)

28 Days Later has been available on Region 2 DVD since 19 May, so it's a waste of time 'protecting' it, now that DVD ripping is so easy.

The solution to everything (5, Funny)

zaphod.nu (100500) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144579)

And in other news the MPAA will require people to duct tape their eyelids closed before entering the cinema. A MPAA spokesperson was quoted saying:
- "In order to produce decent movies we have to make sure noone sees them".

Hidden Persuaders (2, Insightful)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144580)

that movie studios are quite purposefully putting 'large reddish brown spots that flash in the middle of the picture, usually placed in a light area' in order to ruin computer-compressed pirated copies of films

Next step: replace the 'large reddish brown spots' with large reddish brown ads for Coca-Cola ....

Other stupid antipiracy measures (0, Redundant)

Kujah (630784) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144585)

The MPAA has also elected (I think) to stop sending out dvd screeners to academy members - giving smaller films less of a chance at an oscar - just to prevent piracy.

Re:Other stupid antipiracy measures (1)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144666)

...giving smaller films less of a chance at an oscar - just to prevent piracy.
I think you have the effect and the side-effect confused here. Piracy is a nic eexcuse that allows them to screw over small studios. Just like RIAA uses porn [slashdot.org] as an excuse to crack down on us, MPAA uses us as an excuse to crack down on them.

Accursed Dots! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144589)

Bet the MPAA comes back in a week singing another tune:

Those stupid dots ruined Gigli!

Just Remove the Frame? (5, Interesting)

goofy183 (451746) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144593)

Um ... so I think I'm missing somthing. Whats stopping someone from using a diagnostic tool (since DivX is multipass now) from finding points where the compression goes to crap and just cutting out the bad frame? Yeah it's a LITTLE more work but as most compressing jobs take on the order of several hours I don't see why the pirating groups wouldn't do it to save the output quality.

In my opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144596)

this is the right tactic, but bad execution. I think that tagging every movie so that it's unique is one of the better ways to combat piracy. Certainly better than not send out any screeners at all and much much better than suing everyone in sight.

But, there are so many other ways they can do this without ruining film quality. How many scenes are there where you fade to black, or the camera lingers around somewhere before changing scenes. On one movie, make that fade to black last half a second longer but cut down the place where that camera lingers for a little.

I imagine there are probably hundreds of such spots in the movie where you could extend or cut short the shot by half a second or a full second. So, just come up with unique combinations of those and you've got a unique id.

Any problems with this? Seems a lot less intrusive than a big red dot and a lot more stealthy too. People might not have even noticed this happening.

Eh? (5, Insightful)

MarvinIsANerd (447357) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144598)


in order to ruin computer-compressed pirated copies of films

WTF? These supersized cap codes have nothing to do with *ruining* copies of the film. Rather they are used to *identify* the person responsible for leaking the film. These films go to the projection houses long before their release dates and are often seen on the internet often before opening day. So obviously some houses have evil employees capturing the movie into computer video formats and leaking them via P2P networks. All the MPAA has to do is download and look at a pirated movie and look for the cap codes and bam, they have ID'ed the projection house responsible for leaking the film. These cap codes have been in film forever - but only recently have they been enlarged enough so that they show up in low resolution computer encoded video.

This is a Chinese Invention.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144601)

It was invented by a Chinese film technician named Hoo Flung Poo.

Aaachachacha...

Seems easy to remove (3, Insightful)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144602)


How hard would it be to have software process the film, look for large swaths of colours approximately matching the splotches, and remove them? Seems almost trivial image processing to me, although there is a lot of data to crank through.

Re:Seems easy to remove (1)

grondu (239962) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144652)

How hard would it be to have software process the film, look for large swaths of colours approximately matching the splotches, and remove them?

And replace them with what?

Who cares ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144606)

Why don't we try to live without Hollywood films? After all, there wouldn't be no need to copy those films any more (Yes, this is a provocation).

And: do they plan to do this only for movies which they have to sell (because they were so bad in the theaters) or with every single movie?

this actual kind of clever (1)

h0mee (106847) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144609)

I'm surprised the RIAA didn't think of this earlier. An effective anti pirating technique, rather than pay 10s of millions to lawyers... Develop a "background inaudible noise" algorithm on CDs/wavs that would throw off mp3 compression making music file trading just too bandwidth costly. Kind of like a watermark, but far more annoying.

They were obvious in Underworld (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144623)

I remember seeing the dots in Underworld, but didn't know what they were for until now.

They were noticable because they were out of place and seems to serve no purpose... but they didn't detract from movie at all because it was so horrible.

Thank Jebus, I am not crazy (4, Informative)

IronChef (164482) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144624)

I SAW the dots in Underworld. They drove me NUTS. I thought it was some kind of problem with the film copy or... I dunno what.

I did not see this on 28 Days Later. Maybe I just missed it, or maybe it was only in the re-release with the new ending.

They are doing this on PURPOSE? Madness. Will these be on DVDs too?

Anti-piracy? I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144626)

As far as I know these "brown spots" appear on all films that are produced on multiple reels, its the visual cue for the projectionist to switch reels and can be found on pretty much every film shown at non-digital cinemas (i.e. the vast majority).

conspiracy theories, gotta luv 'em!

Add value... (4, Insightful)

bpd1069 (57573) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144630)

What the movie industry SHOULD be doing, instead of pissing in the wind, is add value to the movie experience. I personally don't go see a movie in the theatre unless it is a 'Spectacular' movie. One where the experience of seeing it on a Big screen cannot be duplicated by any other means and actually plays and integral part of the film.

They should invest, partner, encourage more theatres like the IMAX franchise. As I understand the Matrix has done very well in those venues and cannot be duplicated in any other environment.

Give the movie goer a REASON to see the movie in a theatre, make us CHOOSE the theatre instead of our living room/computer monitor/etc.

There will always be individuals who would not pay to see a particular movie in a theatre, this is something that cannot be changed (and should not show up on any studio's bottom line). These are the same people who would rather pirate them to just be up on the popular culture of the day.

Make Better Movies, make us WANT to go to the theatre, make us excited enough to go, otherwise they will destroy themselves fighting a trend that will never cease to move forward.

Spots or Streaks? (2, Funny)

bughunter (10093) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144631)

Very large reddish brown spots that flash in the middle of the picture, usually placed in a light area. They flash in various patterns throughout a given reel while other reels of the same film may have none at all.

If they were handling these reels appropriately, according to their cinematic quality, then they would be wadded up and covered in brown streaks.

Ostrich, hanging dwarf... (1)

rinoid (451982) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144636)

I always see the ostrich milling about the set in the Wizard of Oz and there is some story about a dwarf who hung his self...

Is this what you mean?

It's a tracking measure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144644)

The blobs are actually a unique per "print" (i.e. physical copy at 1 theater) serial number. If someone takes a camcorder copy and makes DVD's of it - then the serial number will be embossed on the video on the DVD's so the movie company can then say -

"This DVD was made from print #1323 - that means this copy must have come from the Downtown cineplex screen #2 in Washington"

The serial number is probably well encoded enough to survive the frames being removed (i.e. the missing frame numbers also encode the print number) - so unless you go through and photoshop each frame, it's going to be obvious where the copy came from.

But of course, you could always write a www.virtualdub.org filter to automatically remove it......

megapixie

not exactly (1)

Dan Nordquist (214523) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144648)

Let's see if I can be the first to point out that they aren't trying to foil compression, but to identify a certain print should it be leaked. Only one print will have red blotch at 0:32:11 and two white dots at 1:03:05. Slightly distracting for viewers, but uniquely identifying.

I don't care (4, Interesting)

EvilStein (414640) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144651)

If I ever download a movie, it's so I can watch some of it and decide if it's worth shelling out the $30 to go see. It's about $30 because:$9 for me, $9 for my g/f, and the rest for popcorn/etc.
Can't bring in outside food or drink anymore. Can't even bring in a backpack, either - post 9/11 fears and "anti-piracy measures" gone too far.

I don't care if the movie looks like crap on my computer. I'm not interested in keeping most movies anyway. If I like it, I'll go see it in the theatre or wait for the DVD.

This really isn't a bad thing. Heck, since the MPAA is purposely altering movies, maybe they should go ahead and let us download stuff and leave p2p alone. If the stuff on p2p is of such low-quality, what is the big problem?

Oh, the problem is that we'll watch it and realize that the movie sucks and we won't shell out $$ to go see it.
I wish I could have my money back from John Carpenter's "Vampires" - aside from 1 hot nude chick, that movie was a total waste of time and money.

I watched... er... uh (1)

Froze (398171) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144653)

I mean *a friend* of mine watched a couple of these movies DL'ed from the web, and I uh... *he* didn't see any artifacts at all. My guess is that they were either edited out by the ripper, or that the compression did not enhance them the way that the studios might have hoped.

I, for one,... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7144656)

I, for one, welcome our new Red-Dot overlords!

See an independent film today (3, Insightful)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144658)

Goodness, just stop putting with with the bad plots, where the story is second to the selection of actors. Stop putting up with canned endings, and weak story lines, where you know the entire plot by watching a 30 second ad.

Go to something like the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse [picturehou...emas.co.uk] or the Acadia Cinema Cooperative [acadiacinemacoop.ca], or one of the many in London [rj93.com].

You like Linux or *BSD, because the other OSes aren't good enough for you, why not demand high quality cinema?

Messed up compression? Not really. (5, Informative)

dbavirt (543160) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144677)

The article does not say the blotches are used to screw up compression to ruin the film for pirates, as the slashdot summary suggests. Rather, it is just 20-year old "cap code" technology enlarged to be more easily visible in high-compressed pirated copies.

Cap code was "designed to uniquely mark film prints so that pirated copies could be traced to the source." Originially the dots were small enough that compression obscured them out of usability.

I've seen some pirated movies, and in my opinion, a few splotches on a few frames isn't going to screw them up a whole lot. They already tend to look and sound bad.

Interesting (3, Interesting)

TygerFish (176957) | more than 10 years ago | (#7144681)

Interesting, so they are so desparate to do things against piracy that they are willing to lower the quality of their films, not to stop it, mind you, but just to make an act of piracy to some measure less attractive?

This amazes me considering that DVD movie technology, and by extension, digital movie files, naturally involve a measureable loss of detail and quality over, say, watching it in a theater.

It almost sounds like a desparate measure; as if someone out there threw the idea out without taking into consideration how little quality matters when it comes to satisfying the average DVD consumer.

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