CinemaNow DVDs

Sometime last week, IMDb’s Studio Briefing notified me that there was an online service for paying for officially licensed DVD images that can be burned (just once, officially): New Movie Download Service Launches Today. The service is CinemaNow.

So, I actually decided to boot into Windows XP and try it out. First, I had to find a movie that I actually wanted. Last Wednesday night, they had 101 titles to choose from, not too many that might be termed “mainstream”. I settled on In Good Company that I saw in the theater and somewhat enjoyed. The price was $3 less than what Amazon charges, as a basic value comparison.

I thought it best to go with all the recommended software. I bit the proverbial bullet and upgraded to the beta of Windows Media Player 11, which is the first I have heard of it. I wonder what new multimedia support challenges it will cause for Linux multimedia? The experience also requires a piece of 3rd party, .NET-based software called FluxDVD.

The whole thing goes fairly seemlessly and takes about 4 hours as promised:

CinemaNow FluxDVD app

The DVD plays in a standalone player as promised. I wonder if the DVD itself features the standard CSS encryption? Probably does but I haven’t checked empirically yet. The source file remains on my hard drive after download. It has a .fluxdvd extension, as seen in the screenshot, and contains some DRM-looking stuff at the front. Double-clicking launches the WMP 11 beta which performs some network activity before playing the file.

The disc image is 1.9 GB. I was wondering if the file was a Windows Media file that got converted to MPEG-2 on the fly by the above program (the “Convert and Burn” was my first clue). Colin Hill points out for me that the actual In Good Company DVD is a dual layer affair.

In other DRM news, I finally got a TV show off of iTunes. It was free. I was sorely disappointed, both with the content and the presentation. Content, because the Blade movie (at least the first one) was so awesome; but the pilot of the spinoff TV series is so bad that they have to give it away for free. Presentation, because the best that iTunes can do is display the 320-width window doublesized to 640. This doesn’t look so great on a 1280-width display. Is it really that tough to do full screen? I think not, especially if iTunes renders the video directly as YUV. I suspect that iTunes probably holds back the full screen feature for a premium version of the program, just as Apple’s QuickTime Player does.

5 thoughts on “CinemaNow DVDs

  1. Benjamin Larsson

    It’s not CSS crypted because to encrypt you need to write on areas not permitted by standard DVD writers.

  2. Robert Swain

    I noted, in the version of QuickTime that shipped with OS X on my MacBook, that fullscreen mode was limited to the Pro version. I find it a bit petty that a fundamental right (yes, I am joking) of a video viewer has to be taken away to prod people into buying some software. The ability to save streams and do other things which actually are more ‘advanced’ than a basic user requires, fair enough, but fullscreen mode? *Tries to get MPlayer to compile in OS X…*

  3. Joakim Plate

    seems very much ratdvd like to me. would make sence as that developer actually seem to have gone underground a while back.

    would be interesting as there where definite licencing troubles with use of libdvdnav in a semi odd way. if they now make money on it…

  4. compn

    it would be interesting to see if the standard dedrm tools (drmdbg, drm2wmv, sidda, drmcreep etc) could strip the (supposedly) wmv file of its drm? the dedrm programs only work with wmp9 or 10 tho… maybe they changed the access points in wmp11 ;)

    does mplayer detect the format of the file? with drm wmv files it actually selects the correct codecs but the image and sound is broken.

    maybe it is mpeg2? thinking of ms-dvr format, but of course it could be anything :)

    you know you can check codecs using the file>properties of wmp? sometimes it says what codecs it is loading. i’d suggest running listdlls’ program to find out but i think wmp loads every dll it can just to be bloated.

    i grabbed the o’grady episodes off itunes back when they were free, too bad there is no HYMN or anything to remove drm from them. 320×240 is pathetic, but maybe they are trying to sell those for the video ipod stuff?

    also i hate quicktime.

  5. Patrick Irvin

    CinemaNow just made a huge bonehead move by requiring users to upgrade to Media Player 11 BETA before they can view movies – not much thought went into this one. The beta isn’t compatible with older versions of media center and you should never require users to upgrade to a beta version – just plain dumb. There is always Movielink and netflix – sigh…

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