Category Archives: Movies

Apple TV hacks

What else to do when jet lagged than to unpack my brand new Apple TV?

Apple TV box

I wonder if the Apple TV is powered by a nuclear reactor because it runs fracking hot!
Has anyone determined which photo they’re referring to?

My unmodified Apple TV running vanilla MacOS X off a USB harddrive:

Apple TV running vanilla MacOS X

I enabled SSH and then installed Perian + ATVFiles. Now my Apple TV is able to play video formats that don’t fit into Steve’s master plan ;)

Check AwkwardTV for a list of hacks.

EMI goes DRM-free at higher pricepoint

EMI has been rumored for months to start licensing DRM-free tracks at a higher pricepoint. From today’s press release:

London, 2 April 2007 — EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

Apple’s iTunes Store (www.itunes.com) is the first online music store to receive EMI’s new premium downloads. Apple has announced that iTunes will make individual AAC format tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29/€1.29/£0.99. iTunes wil continue to offer consumers the ability to pay $0.99/€0.99/£0.79 for standard sound quality tracks with DRM still applied. Complete albums from EMI Music artists purchased on the iTunes Store will automatically be sold at the higher sound quality and DRM-free, with no change in the price. Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track. All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.

When people a while ago requested that Apple start selling DRM-free content from independent labels, some Apple fans argued that Apple couldn’t do this because it would break consistency in iTunes and create consumer confusion. Now Apple is going to be selling some DRM-free music at a higher price point. So much for the consistency and confusion argument! It will be interesting to see how this offering will be branded in the iTunes Store (DRM-free or “Higher Quality”?).

EMI is the smallest of the four major record labels and is in the worst financial shape. More conservative labels such as Universal and Sony BMG are unfortunately not likely to follow anytime soon.

Will Steve Jobs follow up with “Thoughts on Movies”? Highly unlikely, although the thought of a Disney director calling for an end to video DRM is entertaining! Steve’s main argument in “Thoughts on Music” was that CDs don’t have DRM. The studios have always insisted on copy protection (Macrovision, CSS, AACS) and that’s not likely to change in our digital lifetime. Perhaps Steve will start drafting another manifesto after the Apple TV has 90% market share ;)

Update: Steve’s Thoughts on Movies during the webcast:

Q: I take it then that you are going to be advocating the removal of the DRM of the videos you sell on iTunes. Any particular [inaudible] you could do that now with Disney given your involvement with the Disney company?

A: You know, video, uh… I knew I’d get that question today. Video is pretty different than music right now because the video industry does not distribute 90 percent of their content DRM free; never has, and so I think they are in a pretty different situation and so I wouldn’t hold the two in parallel at all.

“A digital thing lasts forever”

This comment over in the Ars forums:

The need for backups was more of an issue back in the days of magnetic media, where the originals could and did degrade over time to the point of being useless.

reminded me of this comment by Jack Valenti, former president of the MPAA:

Where did this backup copy thing come from? A digital thing lasts forever.

A while ago I bought GoldenEye on DVD. New discs of this Bond movie are not being made anymore so I bought it used. The disc did not have any noticable scratches yet all my DVD players were unable to play the last 30 minutes of the movie. Most likely a bad case of DVD rot.

Jack, DVDs do not last forever, but comments such as this one probably will:

I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.
– Jack Valenti, “Home Recording of Copyrighted Works,” Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives, April 12, 1982

The Island

Ben Waggoner has made a HD trailer of The Island available.

Specs: 18 Mbps CBR MPEG-2 video, 448 Kbps 5.1 AC-3 audio

BitTorrent download: The+Island+ATSC.ts.torrent

Update: Followup by Ben Waggoner:

I’ve made a followup test – same source, but at 8 Mbps VBR in four different codecs:

The+Island+8+Mbps+VBR.torrent

The goal here is to test content at a data rate where you could do a 1080p 2-hour feature on DVD-9 media. The trailer is very high motion, so it’s not exactly a fair test, but the results should be interesting.