HDTV Copy Protection

Everywhere you go, you see great new HD TV and players for sale. Prices are coming down. Eventually, but not tomorrow, every old TV and DVD player, cable box and satellite box will likely be replaced with HD rated equipment. As of yet, it is uncertain where the industry will go as far as to who will win the format wars between HDDVD and Blue-Ray. So we will likely see an assortment of players that either play one or the other or both. Possibly there will be a continuation of combo units that play VCR tapes also.

You probably cringe when you look behind your entertainment center with all the wires and stuff if you have all the traditional equipment like I do. Eventually that will be a thing of the past also.

HD content can be seen by connecting your device to your HDTV via 2 popular interfaces...DVI (Digital Video Interface) or HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface).

DVI can display all popular HD resolutions up to 1080i as can the HDMI interface. The difference is that HDMI combines both video and audio into one wire. DVI requires separate audio cables just like S-Video and all other analog type connections. Most likely you would use component or optical audio which delivers a higher quality.

An Intel spinoff group has developed a copy protection scheme called HDCP (High Definition Copy Protocol). Basically how this works is that via the DVI or HDMI cable, your HDTV and the component communicate back and forth exchanging encryption keys. Each frame is either turned on or off depending on whether the correct key or cookie is recieved. Keep in mind that not all HD content will be encrypted and unless it is encrypted may not be an issue.

What this is designed to prevent is the audio/video signal from being intercepted between the component and the video display and then recorded. Most likely where you would most encounter this I assume would be with HDDVD and Blue-Ray discs I assume. I'm going to also assume that the satellite and cable companies will continue to control content via subscription. However, they could just as easily deploy HDCP in thier HD DVR (Digital Video Recorder) offerings as well as any one of thier HD packages.

For people like me who refuse to pay extra for HD programming, likely will never get my satellite box replaced unless it literally dies. So even if I go out and purchace an HDTV...doesn't mean I have to watch HD content. HDCP only works over DVI and HDMI.

Certification of the HDMI 1.3 standard released last year requires the devices to be HDCP compliant also. This standard opens up a whole new level of HD possibilities. HDMI.org has some pretty good video presentations that explain the new standard.

Most everyone that has owned a VCR recorded a TV show or two right? I'm not going to discuss the legality or morality of doing this. It is possible, that at some point in time, this practice could be stopped. It would require both audio and video display options to use HDMI and have that be the only option.  Today we have several options and should remain that way for sometime to come.

According to what I have read though, It is mathmatically possible to crack the HDCP code. This means that some ingenious fellow could design a breakout box of sorts that sits between a component and a display and emulates a HDTV on one side and emulates a component device on the otherside and could care less if the audio/video gets tapped off of it and recorded.

Even without that, how hard would it be to take apart the display and tap into the A/V stream on the back side of the security chip? Probably would take a decent Electrical Engineer about a day to to that. I suspect it also wouldn't be that hard to make a telecine device that captures and records the display output either.

While this may slow piracy down for a fashion, the fact that the code can be cracked, chips can be purchaced, and they already have plenty of practice already...it isn't going to be a permanent situation.

.M2TS File Breakthrough

New Sony HD camcorders present problems to their owners when it comes time to viewing and editing M2TS files created by the camera.  There is actually a lot of people having problems with this. If you Google the topic you will get lost in all the info of failures and attempts.

It is possible to view M2TS files using WMP10 with the Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 installed. M2TS is an acronym for "Mpeg2 Transport Stream". Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra was reported that it cannot actually open M2TS files from disk for viewing like it can other video types but I can even after installing the updates. You just have to select open media files from the appropriate menu and build a playlist.

From what I have been reading, support from the OpenSource Community is likely over 2 years away. It will take someone with an intense knowledge of Mpeg2 among other things to come up with an OpenSource solution. Two major factors definately contribute to the ability to view/edit these files...System performance and codecs.

Anyone that HAS to deal with these file types is wasting thier time unless the system is HDV compatible. This dosen't necessarily mean 100% compatible.

 Using tools provided by Cyberlink though, one can determine if thier system is HDV compatible in general. Low-performing systems will have issues with choppy video/audio and likely audio sync issues during playback.


The Cyberlink Advisor http://tinyurl.com/3xfka5 


Cyberlink compatibility Chart http://tinyurl.com/3y84ra.



Sony, from what I understand, does include both a viewer and an encoder which is capable of re-encoding a M2TS file into a format that requires less overhead to play on a low-performing system. My guess though, based on my tests, is that even the re-encoded file will suffer from the choppy video/audio problem.

My workstation I do my video stuff on is on a Asus motherboard with a AMD 64X2 4800+, 2 gb ram ,Nvidea GEForce 7300GS 512mb. According to the Cyberlink Advisor my video card is not compatible. Of course, My card is compatible because I can play 1080p WMHDV downloaded from the Windows Media Showcase. My laptop is a POS Acer Aspire 3000 with 512mb ram. I didn't bother running the advisor on it I already know its not HDV Ready. But I have tested what I found works on my workstation and I do get choppy audio/video.

Windows Media Showcase http://tinyurl.com/oxf5o


MY $35.00 Solution: Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 UNINSTALLED

I found an encoder while surfing the web that can convert M2TS files to .AVI files that are playable both in WMP10 and MPC. The installer is a 21-day trial and is not limited in any other way I could tell so-far. You can preview the files in a small window which is nice. I also downloaded a test video.

Sample Videos http://tinyurl.com/2zg6fs

Elecard AVC HD to DV Transcoder http://tinyurl.com/2x2xf2

The resulting encoded AVI file does play without a hitch on my 99% HDV compliant system. However, I'm not sure of how close to HD compliant the output file actually is. Next I looked at editing.

1.Womble has problem with the display of the Elecard encoded file. There are vertical lines in the preview video that get passed to an exported video. So Womble is out.

2.Sony Vegas Platinum 7.0 can import the encoded file and render as other types of .AVI files that play perfectly with WMP10 and MPC. Womble is still out using the Sony Rendered AVI.

3.Ulead DVD Movie Factory 4.0 can't open the Elecard encoded file but can open and play properly the Sony Rendered AVI. It can also export to a Vob set. Womble has no problem with the resulting file. So Womble is back in.

4.VirtualDubMod can[t open the source M2TS file or directly open either the Elcard or the Sony Rendered file due to a lack of a codec. It can open the Elcard file if at the bottom of the open dialog you select the DirectShow Source option next to where it says Use AviSynth Template. A basic stream dump to an AVI file can be opened by Womble.

5. Windows Media Encoder can render the Elcard AVI to a HDWMV but nothin on my system can play it.

6. Super© can convert the Elcard file with no problem to different iterations of AVI files using DivX or XVID and AC3 which is good news actually.


MY $135.00 Solution: Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 INSTALLED

PowerDVD Ultra can play the HDWMV file but we are $100.00 over budjet.

VirtualDubMod can open M2TS files but does a lousy processing job.


Here's a sample of what I was able to do...

Video: XVID 1280x720 29.97fps 1314Kbps [Video 0]

Audio: Dolby AC3 48000Hz 6ch 112Kbps [Audio 1]