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Macrovision and DVD Creation - What You Need To Know

By Kevin McAuliffe

Awhile back, I was asked by a client to put Macrovision onto their DVD which they were sending out for replication. I didn't know very much (or anything for that matter) on Macrovision or what was required to do it, so I did some research, and I found out some very interesting things.
Before you begin, take this into account. To "legally" do Macrovision, three licenses are required. First, you as the content creator need a license, your client needs a license based on how many discs they are burning, and the replicator needs a license to encrypt the Macrovision copy protection onto the streams of your DVD. If you have never gone through the process before, I would suggest calling around to different replication houses to find out who is authorized to do Macrovision in your area, or, if you don't mind incurring the long distance charges, call Macrovision directly, and they will be able to steer you in the right direction.

Once you have found a couple of replicators, give them a call and inquire as to whether or not they include the Macrovision license fee in the per disc cost of the replication. Most good replicators will do this, as it makes the whole process easier on them, and the client. In reality, you don't really need to do any of this, but at the end of the day, as all of us editors know, it's all about client care and satisfaction, and the more information you can provide to your client, the better. The one aspect of the process that I found to be the most interesting is that we, as users, actually require a license. The license is free for users to have, and I was told by Macrovision that, much like their replicators, the reason for this is that they like to know who is using their product. I guess that makes sense, Big Brother!
Licenses aside, I have created DVDs for replication before. What I mean by replication is that when a disc is sent to a replication house, a glass master is made from it, and true DVDs are pressed. It's important not to confuse duplication and replication. Duplication is when you send your disc off to a duplication house, and they can pull 1000 DVD-Rs in a few hours. As we all know, not all DVD players support the DVD-R format, but virtually all DVD players will play replicated DVDs. When I started sending discs out for replication, I got a bit of a backlash from replicators telling me that they would not accept a DVD-R as a "Master" to have a glass master made from, as they are unreliable, and not as "foolproof" as DLTs. Well, needless to say, after a bit of prodding, they took the DVD-R, and replicated it with no problem. CSS (Content Scramble System) and Macrovision are a different story. In a nutshell, here is how the process works. You as the user, when you are enabling CSS and Macrovision on your disc are essentially putting "flags" onto your streams that, once sent to the replication house, will be read by their machines and then the actual encryption will take place upon replication. Also, just so we can be crystal clear, the difference between Macrovision and CSS, is that Macrovision is to prevent analog duplication, meaning from your DVD player to your VHS machine. CSS is to prevent DVD to DVD duplication.  

The absolute best way to deliver your "Master" for replication is on DLT tape. If you are sending a single layer show to be replicated, you will need one DLT, if your show is dual layer, you will need two DLTs, not to mention the actual DLT drive to do this. Now, I know that I will get a flood of e-mails from people telling me that you can submit your shows on DVD and they can enable the Macrovision from there. Much like I'm sure that it is possible to edit Uncompressed HD on your laptop, let me tell you from personal experience that most replication facilities will NOT accept a DVD-R for Macrovision encryption, as they are extremely unreliable and can have data error issues, and I had nothing but problems trying to get a replication facility's machines to be able to read the Macrovision on a disc that I had put the Macrovision flags on. Here is another thing that can make you think twice about this process. DLT drives and tape stock can be expensive. Most home users cannot afford that cost, or are not willing to spend the money for projects like this that are few and far between.  So here is my suggestion, most replication houses have internal facilities with DLT drives and tapes to take "raw projects" from major DVD creation programs ( i.e. DVD Studio Pro), and burn them to DLT exactly the way they need it, for replication. There may be an additional cost for them to do things this way, and your project may cost a little more in the short run, but in the long run, you save yourself time, money and headaches.
For more information on Macrovision, check out their website at http://macrovision.com .


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at kevinpmcauliffe@gmail.com

Related Keywords:macrovision, copy protection, dvd creation

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