Macrovision

- and how to defeat it -

Macrovision is the main copy protection technology that is used for both VHS tapes and DVD's.  If you make a copy from the output video stream of a title with Macrovision, the result is a bizarre picture with large areas of horrendous bright and dark colors.  You can see the action, but it is miserable to watch.  The manufacturers purchase licenses from Macrovision and apply it to their titles.  Macrovision then tracks the number of sales, and keeps a tidy profit for each sale.  Great for them, eh ?  There is no law requiring such protection.

Macrovision 1 - the color burst is fiddled with such that the AGC on your VCR basically overcompensates and fouls up the picture. The pulses in the vertical blanking signal ("AGC") added to the composite video and s-video outputs causes the video to become dark-light-dark-light...ect.

Macrovision 2 (Colorstripe) - produces horizontal stripes.  Technically, the method adds a rapidly modulated colorburst signal ("Colorstripe") which adds those swaths of annoying color stripes..

Macrovision Protection vs Macrovision Degradation

This is a bit confusing but important to understand.  The original title is "Macrovision protected", but not "Macrovision degraded" and therefore it plays just fine.  VHS and DVD players receive the video and the Macrovision signal, and they simply display only the video signal - effectively stripping off the Macrovision signal. 

BUT if you connect up a recorder to the output of the player, and make a copy, then the copy will be "Macrovision Degraded" - and will be basically unviewable.  The recorder receives the video and Macrovision, but has no circuitry to remove the Macrovision signal, which then distorts the video.

Defeating Macrovision

Macrovision is always applied when you hook two systems together for recording purposes.  This will apply to the following configurations:

Player   Recorder
HT DVD Player   Standalone DVD Recorder
HT DVD Player   VCR
VCR   Standalone DVD Recorder
VCR   VCR
PC DVD Drive via TVout Standalone DVD Recorder
PC DVD Drive via TVout VCR

DVD Copy Utilities - they do not remove Macrovision - but they make a copy that is not degraded !!    Since they make an exact copy of the original DVD, it can be played just like the original.  This means the copy will play with Macrovision protection - but not Macrovision degradation !!

Manual DVD Copy to remove Macrovision - Rip the DVD and then Burn a Copy - both DVD Decryptor and Smart Ripper will rip the DVD contents to your PC, removing BOTH the CSS encryption and Macrovision.  DVD Decryptor automatically removes Macrovision, while Smart Ripper removes it by default but has a checkbox under settings where you can deselect the removal if you want to keep Macrovision (but why keep it?).

You can then burn a copy to DVD.  Unlike DVDxCopy, which creates a copy with Macrovision - this creates a copy without Macrovision.

TV Out - Video Out Port on PC Video Cards  -  for DVD copies to VHS or to a stand-alone DVD recorder - if you have ripped the DVD to your hard drive - it will be free of Macrovision, and you simply play it and record it (but beware, your card may add Macrovision back in  !! ).  Or you may want to play the DVD directly from the DVD drive and record it. 

NOTE:  most manufacturers of TV out cards have inserted Macrovision, on the insistence of the DVD forum.  However, there are utilities to defeat this.  Nvidia and the cards that use their chips have a nifty little utility called "TVTool".  This program allows you to not only obtain full-screen playback, but also allows you to remove Macrovision.  All you have to do is run TVTool, watch the DVD movie in full screen (not window) as normal and enable TV-out. This way you force the card to output exactly what is on screen, and you can copy the movie without the Macrovision problem!

Hack your DVD Drive's Firmware - many DVD drives can be flashed with hacked firmware, that will remove both the RPC region protection, and Macrovision.  See the Firmware Page Forum and do a search.   This does not help you unless you have a TVOut video card.  Even if the Video card is the type that detects Macrovision and transfers it to the recorder - there won't be any Macrovision signal to transfer !!!  The drive removes it.

PC Video Capture Cards - 90% of the video capture cards remove Macrovision as well.  Be careful here - the new Matrox cards, for example, will simply refuse to capture any video source that contains Macrovision.  Do your homework before buying a card !!!

NOTE: the PC video file formats such as AVI and MPEG have no means of carrying the Macrovision signal.  However, a capture card could either transfer the Macrovision effects into the recorded video, or even add it's own.

Macrovision Defeat Boxes - you can also purchase Macrovision defeat boxes from any number of outlets on the web.  The box sits between the player and recorder, in series.  Again, be careful - there are a lot of "fly-by-nights" in that industry.