Macrovision Problems?

Hey, this is my first post on this board and i'm relativley new to diy projectors but i'm not new to video.

I've noticed a lot of people mentioning Macrovision and wondering how to get rid of it and what it is, etc. so have decided to let you all in on what I know about it. This will hopefully help a lot of you newbies and maybe even some who are knowledgable.

What is Macrovision?
Ok, macrovision was implemented originally in VHS to prevent the growing piracy problem. How it worked is that the tape would output certain signals that would effect the video aspect of a tape. If the signals were picked up by an analogue device such as another VCR, the video would be effected to the extent of it being unwatchable and therefore make recording onto another VHS pointless. If it was picked up by a TV however, the macrovision signal would be ignored. The same principle applies to DVD.
Although I have not yet a LCD panel to work with, I'm sure the same principle applies and some LCD panels are like a VCR in that they are affected.

How to get rid of Macrovision.
Although originally thought of as the device to end piracy, this was not to be. As people who had no intentions in piracy were screwed, as Macrovision can also effect video when directly plugged into a television. So because of this, many people set out to kill Macrovision thus spawning many methods.

Years ago I came across a device called a Video Mate which eliminated macrovision. It was on sale for $150AUD and so I picked one up. This worked very well and eliminated all macrovision in DVD and VHS. However with my new DVD player and 2-head VCR (6-head broke) it worked when I was merley watching a DVD through the VCR but not if I tried to record.

There are also many other devices available online such as the DVD Video Decoder which is available for $39USD at http://www.qksrv.net/click-702087-5679252 or the SIMA Video Copy Master available for $45USD at http://store.yahoo.com/cgi-bin/clink?1cache+G5HEBC+index.html. There are more methods listed at http://www.digital-digest.com/dvd/articles/macrovision_general.html if anyone would like further information.

If anyone has any more methods not listed than please add them. Otherwise there is more information on Macrovision at http://www.digital-digest.com/dvd/articles/macrovision.html .

If anyone has tried any of these devices with an LCD then please post your thoughts on how it worked. For my DVD-VCR it worked perfectly with playback.

Hope this helped anyone (and wasn't too long).
 

remp

Disabled Account
2001-11-13 5:19 am
New Zealand
Morien

It is a very good post

Macrovision is very important to nail down because some guys think Ok all I have to do is buy a projection panel and an OHP and can watch any video source.

Person could get rather cheesed off if they outlay cash and then find macrovision prevents watching DVD through panel.

In my setup, video from TV to panel has no macrovision problems but this may not be the case in other countries. EG USA

We need to find answers to some questions

(1) Does macrovision spoil Video from dvd through panel
(2) Are all panels similarly affected
(3) What is good solution not using a computer
(4) What is good solution using a computer
(5) What sort of computer. Fast ? Slow


Links to information is helpful but most helpful is people here who have experience of macrovision problems and solutions.

If there are no responces I will search and find information on macrovision and place it here, but I am not experienced in macrovision.

Would be good if information was here in this thread. Later on it can go into FAQ or Wiki so it is not lost from view.
 
remp,
as for your questions, (I may be wrong in my views however, so if anyone can correct me than this'll be appreciated.)

(1) Does macrovision spoil Video from dvd through panel.
Although I have nothing to back this up, as I have not yet got an lcd projection panel, what I have gathered from previous posts I have read is that macrovision can spoil video from dvd through a panel. This can be easily resolved with the tv-3000 which goes for $99USD online at http://www.avtoolbox.com/tv-3000.htm.
This information was aquired from http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=5184 '3Dog Theatre Now Open' and the panel and dvd in use were nview spectra c and panasonic rv32. If anyone else has similar problems with their panel and dvd could they post information?

(2) Are all panels similarly affected.
My guess is that it doesn't affect all panels. A combination of a certain dvd player and a certain panel could result in no problem, just as I think some vcrs may have the problem when connected to a panel direct. Once again if anyone could post their experiences on the matter that would be very helpful.

(3) What is good solution not using a computer.
I'd think any macrovision remover would do the job. The one Blockhead used in his setup was the tv-3000 and supposedly worked perfectly. Some removers not only take away the macrovision but also improve the signal quality making for a much better picture. Also, another technique I think would work is using a very old vcr to connect the dvd through. This works because macrovision is just ignored by a vcr if it is pre-macrovision. This is because they lack Automatic Gain Control, which is what recognises the macrovision signals.

(4) What is good solution using a computer.
There are many ways to stop macrovision with this. I'll mention the software related ways as this would probably be easier for people to do. If you get it, you can use the latest version of Remote Selector to disable Macrovision in PowerDVD and WinDVD. Choose "None, Player only" as your decoder and choose "PowerDVD" or "WinDVD" as the decoder. Select the "Disable Macrovision" option and your done.
More Software based techniques are listed at http://www.digital-digest.com/dvd/articles/macrovision_software.html
Some Graphics Card options are at http://www.digital-digest.com/dvd/articles/macrovision_graphics.html
And some Hardware based techniques are at http://www.digital-digest.com/dvd/articles/macrovision_hardware.html

(5) What sort of computer. Fast ? Slow
This doesn't really matter with getting rid of macrovision. The minimum requirements would just be that the computer can run a dvd well enough to watch.

I hope that helps remp.

Mario007,

sure, you can use anything that I say. I like helping people out as they may then be able to return the favour. After I get enough money I'll be looking for a lcd projection panel. The one I am looking for is the nView Spectra Pro or better. As I will require to use my computer on the screen. So if anyone can help me out then great. I am looking for it as cheap as possible :p
 

remp

Disabled Account
2001-11-13 5:19 am
New Zealand
Morien

Thanks for macrovision info.

My understanding now from your information and reading all previous posts on macrovision is as follows.

(1) Macrovision has a very high chance of affecting any projection panel when playing DVD and newer recorded VHS tapes.

(2) A computer can eliminate macrovision problems

(3) A non computer electronic box in the price range $70-$100 US between the DVD player and the projection panel can reduce/remove macrovision, but the video signal is usually converted to VGA so the projection panel must have VGA input. Not all panels have VGA input and those that do sometimes have non standard VGA input connection. EG Infocus Powerview 820 projection panel requires a hard to find cable wizard connector.

(4) Some of these electronic boxes are for NTSC and some are for PAL
People with PAL systems should check the boxes are suitable before buying. Some are shown with 110 volt power supplies which will not be suitable for 220v countries.

(5) It is possible that using an older VCR between the DVD player and the Projection panel could eliminate macrovision.
If this works it is a cheap solution but would passing a DVD video signal through a VCR result in lower picture quality.?


Macrovision is a copy protection mechanism that prevents people making copies of DVD VHS and some TV programs. It is illegal to hire a video tape or dvd, take it home and make a copy for yourself or others. That is fair enough. But in our situation we are not making illegal copies of anything. All we want is to able to send video to our projection panels and have that signal presented as a good picture without intrusive macrovision disturbances. Since this is our legitimate usage there are no problem presenting any and all methods to remove macrovision for "fair usage" and is legally permitted.

Macrovision is a series of pulses added to a video signal. A number of devices which receive video have a special circuit called an AGC system which looks at the incoming video and tries to maintain that video signal at a preset level. This allows the device using the video signal to have a good sized signal to work with. Not too small which shows as noise and not too big which shows as an overloaded signal. The AGC (automatic gain control) circuit has a time constant built in. Your VCR has an AGC circuit. Your projection panel has an AGC circuit.

NTSC and PAL video have a picture of about 625 lines more or less.
Not all these lines are visible. Those that are not visible carry additional information such as Teletext, different language subtitles and anything else the TV boys can fit in. One of these is Macrovision. It uses some of the not seen TV lines to supply pulses in a varying pattern.

Your VCR with its built in AGC system sees a varying video signal caused by the macrovion pulses and decides that the signal is too low so it boosts the signal. Or it decides the signal is too high and lowers the gain. Either way the signal your VCR is attempting to copy is now corrupted and you get an unwatchable VCR recording. The same happens with your projection panel. The picture becomes brighter or darker at 6 - 10 second intervals and ruins your viewing.

It is the time constant in the AGC circuit that is the main culprit. A few technical posts on other forums detail how to change the AGC time constant to avoid macrovision problems. We cannot do that here because you would need Panel schematics which for 10 year old product are probably very difficult to obtain or cost a fortune, and good technical knowledge and you might ruin your panel if you take it apart so an external approach is needed.

Looking at Macrovision and Projection panels on the internet, a lot of people recommend using an older VCR in between your dvd player or your newer VCR to view DVD's and VHS tapes. Apparently older VCR have a AGC circuit which can take in Macrovisioned video and put out un-macrovisioned video.

Here are a few sample posts on other forums or websites

There are quite a few like this
********************
Use an ancient VCR - submitted by Jeff Hillis
Here's a simple solution that has worked for me since the early days of DVD: use an ancient VCR. I have a really old, yet solid VCR that appears to pre-date (or just ignore) the Macrovision signal. Before I bought my new TV with s-Video in, I had a cheapie that was coaxial-only. I ran the DVD player thru the VCR (using RCA cables) and into the TV via coax. I didn't have a single Macrovision problem from my 40+ disc collection. I was also able to tape the DVD output using this approach. Not the most high-tech approach, but it worked nicely for me. Spending $15 on a relic VCR at a flea market for a garage sale might be worth a shot for the people plagued with the coax-only TV issue.

Additional Notes : Old VCRs may not have AGC (Automatic Gain Control) circuits (which is actually the source of the Macrovision distortions), and that's why they work. There is no good way to identify which VCR works and which doesn't.
*******************
Use a DV DCR - submitted by Claus Anders
Well I don't know if this helps but I have a Nordmende (by Thomson) spectra v 1242 sv vcr (PAL) and it seems to simply ignore macrovision I have my DVD signal through this vcr and my TV displays crystal clear pictures with out any macrovision intrusion. It records fine. Tested on a Mustek v520 DVD player.
*******************

Pre 1992 VCR should be OK. Many older VCR have their date of manufacture on the voltage rating panel on the back of the VCR. Suggested models to try out. National / Panasonic Nv7000, Nv 370 Nv730, G7, G10, G16, G30. It does not matter if the VCR mechanics are faulty or the heads are worn out because we are only passing the signal through the VCR , not recording. That would be illegal.

A question here is
Will the passed through video quality be good enough or not.
Most older VCR do not have S-video in/out
No one has complained about picture quality
Have to try it and see.

So that is one very easy idea to try out.

If you dont want to use an old VCR or a computer here are some more small box links.

http://www.lik-sang.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=1365&AID=5439461&PID=1091970
$39.00 US. Video + S-Video in and out. Auto NTSC / PAL detection. Does not work with macrovision 2.


This link shows a box that takes in video or S-video and puts out macrovision free video or S-video. Price $79.00 US. Several models available.

http://www.svideo.com/svideovcr1.html
 

remp

Disabled Account
2001-11-13 5:19 am
New Zealand
Morien

Hope you dont mind me posting all this stuff in your thread. You started it off and its good to look into macrovision because it will probably affect most people using a panel


Mike had a problem with his projection panel in the Projector Problem-HELP thread.
Several people told him it was probably a macrovision problem and I emailed Mike to see how he was going.

He said he was just about to post a reply
Here it is.

Yes i did solve my problem, it was in fact macrovision. I did a little research about
macrovision and looked at all my possible solutions. Which were:

1. Buy the TV-3000 VGA
2. Buy a DVD player with macrovision already removed
3. Buy a mod chip for my dvd player (this wasnt a solution for me because i didnt
find my dvd player on the compatability lists)
4. Use a computer with a DVD player
5. Use a REALLY old VCR to feed the signal through

I chose to use a computer, mainly because i got one sitting around not doing
anything at the current moment. The problem was that i did not have a VGA cable for
my panel. What i did was just go to my local electronics store and bought a cable
that fit the panel then soldered a VGA connector to the other end. I just finished
doing that and it works great, all i need to do now for my theater is mount the
pojector on the ceiling (on a pneumatic slide for adjustments) and mount the screen
in the correct place. then also put the computer somewhere in the room. I feel as
though the simplest solution would be to use a computer, because they are just so cheap
now a days.

If you have anymore questions or need any help with anything at all, just email me.

Mike Waddick
 
Yeah remp go ahead. If you want to add anything go for it.

To answer your question '...If this works it is a cheap solution but would passing a DVD video signal through a VCR result in lower picture quality.?'
It depends on what vcr you use but yes it will downgrade the signal. Vcrs generally have an output of about 320 vertical lines (i think) and so the picture is downgraded.
 
Sima has two different Macrovision filters. The $45 one works on level 1 Macrovision (pretty much handles VCR's) but does not deal with level 2 Macrovision (most newer DVD's).

Sima has a more advanced box called the SCC which also lets you adjust the image quality which does deal with level 2 Macrovision. It sells for around $120. This website has a big note stating that the SCC will not work with DVD recorders. I don't now if this is true (or if the seller is just trying to cover themselves). My SCC works fine for making tape backups of DVD's, but since I don't own a DVD recorder can't say if it will work with this.

http://www.avdeals.com/SCC.htm

The best possible solution to Macrovision is a digital time base corrector. Here's a link to one that sells for around $300. It digitizes the image and then recreates the sync signals, in the process totally stripping off all the Macrovision monkey business.

http://www.datavideo-tek.com/datavi...timebasecorrectors/tbc_1000/tbc_1000_page.htm

Hope this helps.

Phil
 

remp

Disabled Account
2001-11-13 5:19 am
New Zealand
Haldor

That Time Base Corrector you linked and similar products are expensive right now but for none computer usage, will probably be the way to go in the future. As other companies offering Macro buster gear get closed down by infringing macrovisions defeat patents, the only legal ones left will be TBC suppliers.

Time base correctors have been around for many years, well before Macrovision came on the scene and are perfectly legal. You can even make your own but it's not a simple task. I would not be at all surprised to see a no frills TBC come on the market soon.

Macrovision wants the FCC to tighten up specifications so their analogue copy protection system will become santioned by law. Macrovision is also looking very hard at the digital situation.

It is good for us to dig into this so that people can display their projectors without hassle.

If anyone is interested in this subject there is a lot of info at
Google > macrovision > groups.
 

remp

Disabled Account
2001-11-13 5:19 am
New Zealand
Further thoughts on Macrovision.

The grapevine says that Macrovision has not only have deployed version 1 which places very large pulses on TV lines not seen on a regular TV, but also version 2 which operates to make strange colours appear. Version 1 is relatively easy to remove but version 2 is not. It seems version 2 is only on NTSC equipment not on PAL gear.

This site shows hacks to make DVD region free. It is also thought if it is region free, it is also macrovision free and the macrovision is no longer activated. Since we are only interested in being able to use our panels for projection and we are not interested in making copies this is legal for us.

http://www.vcdhelp.com/


Comments from around the net.

Unfortunatly, the VCR manufacturers have conspired with the Hollywood
people to make VCRs especially suceptible to macrovision signals.

Basically the way it works is it stuffs junk into the vertical blanking
interval to fool the Auto Gain Control circuit of a VCR.

All you have to do is filter out the signal during the vertical blanking
interval and substitue a "clean" version of the horizontal lines that
normally appear in the vertical blanking interval. The problem is that
this isn't trivial to do. Most techniques that do this count lines
and when in the vertical blanking interval, they just switch to a
"black" line. (however, not a job for a box of resistors or caps)...

They don't screw with the sync pulses (you can't really get away
with that), what they do is put a video signal that looks just
like a bad sync pulse in middle of a horizontal line that's in
on several of the vblank lines.

The TV ignores this signal (it's just video in the middle of a
horizontal line in the vblank so the electron gun is in flyback).
TVs usually have a sample/hold circuit on the sync pedistal for
AGC and TVs don't sample this during flyback. Although as you
noticed, sometimes TVs sample during this flyback and are affected
a little bit by macrovison, but they usually have faster AGC circuits
(but sometimes not fast enough).

A VCR is stupid (it just records all the input signal to the tape).
The tape servo and the automatic gain control are handled by a cheap
circuit that just looks for any sync pulses (not just the normal ones)
and thus gets fooled by the macrovision signal. Whenever a sync
tip is detected, the sample/hold circuit checks the sync pedistal.

Since the time constant on the VCR's AGC is long for stability, the
"bad" AGC samples in the macrovision signal, mess up the AGC for the
whole picture. The macrovision signal has a fake "high delta"
sync pedistal, so the gain is forced artificially low which makes
everything recorded on the tape really dark. Also since the macrovision
AGC "fake-out" level changes from frame to frame, it's a bitch to
filter out (plus it just looks like a HSYNC signal, but in the wrong
place).

Unfortunatly, the VCR manufacturers have conspired with the Hollywood
people to make VCRs especially suceptible to macrovision signals.

I'd love to know how they get away with that...
The video signal is defined by RS-170, and screwing around with the sync
pulses makes it into "some wierd thing I invented that's kinda like standard
video".
It's no wonder the TV has trouble with it. Watch the scene brightness slowly
pulsing on macrovision encoded signals. MOST annoying.

Pinnacle PCTV or PCTV Pro? I want the Pro version since it has
S-video, although every post on Dejanews that I can find only mentions
PCTV as one that defeats Macrovision.

You don't need one, get a pinical tv card and just capture it, they only
cost £29

PCTV has s-video as well as composite. I can confirm this card does not detect
macrovision

the "pro" version adds, stereo audio out, FM tuner and remote control


MacroVision 2 is another story, It puts stripes (mostly in the red
channel) all through the picture, I'm not sure how it works, but
unfortunately most or all DVD's have both MacroVision 1 and 2, and so
BOTH need to be disabled to make a viewable copy on VHS.

(we do not make copies we only want our lcd panels to function correctly)

This is available in one device, the SIMA SCC Video Color Corrector, which
costs around $100, is available here
http://www.jandr.com/JRSectionView....rchant_Id=1&Section_Id=741&Sort=Current_Price


Some DVD players, including the Samsung x09 range of machines, have an
undocumented remote handset "hack" which sets the player to ignore
this flag, so the MacroVision pulses/stripes aren't added. I have a
Samsung 709 and the output is entirely MacroVision-free for all discs.

This only applies to a player with NTSC output. MacroVision 2 can't be
used with the PAL system, so players like the Matsui support
MacroVision 1 only - any flag for MacroVision 2 is simply ignored by
the player. For a PAL player, the simpler type of remover is all
that's needed.

Make sure the stabilizers deal with Macrovision level 2 also. The SIMA SCC
($100) is the least expensive unit I have seen which deals with this.

Buy an RXII digital stabilizer for $50 or a SIMA unit for $100.
Macrovision problems will be non existent.

Can anyone recommend a web site where I can see those macrovision decoders.

http://www.simacorp.com/product.html
http://www.videoguys.com/sima.htm
 
Hi remp,

Right on the money with your description of how Macrovision works.

About VCR manufacturers and Macrovision. JVC holds the patents to VHS and part of their licensing agreement is that you have to implement a totally unnecessary AGC circuit that Macrovision was designed to mess up. JVC got in bed with Macrovision way back (they make quite a bit of money off this) and if anyone wants to make a VHS VCR then they have to do this or they can't legally sell the thing.

This is why TV's and other video tape formats (8MM, Beta, etc) pretty much ignore Macrovision (they don't have or need that AGC circuit). Unfortunately recording to other tape formats doesn't remove the Macrovision signal so you can't use your camcorder as an in-between step to strip off the Macrovision signal.

I very seriously considered the $300 Time Base Corrector before I bought the Sima SCC, at 1/3 the price I decided to give the Sima a chance. It works well enough and a free bonus is that it also simplified my video routing. Now I just run the DVD s-video output to the Sima, the s-video output of the Sima to my VCR and then the s-video output of the VCR to the TV.

Origninally I was using component video from the DVD to the TV, but to be honest I can't really see any degredation in the picture since I switched to s-video. If I had a HDTV and a progressive scan DVD (which I don't) then I expect there would be more of a difference between component and s-video), but with my current equipment s-video is good enough.

Phil
 
Macrovision 2: A problem with panels?

I've read about a dozen stories in here about how people had macrovision problems (going DVD/VCR straight to Panel), and those problems were fixed by buying a video-to-VGA line doubler, even a cheap one - even a *really* cheap one like the JAM!! for $30 on Ebay....

Haven't heard any stories about Macrovision 2 being a problem with panels and a simple cheap line doubler not solving the problem, but now you have me concerned.

What's the scoop - anyone actually having Macrovision *2* problems on their panels that a basic line doubler won't correct?
 
No problems here...

I have had my setup since July (I'm using the TV-3000 line doubler) and I have not had any problems with what I have watched so far-(This is my running theater playlist-)
7/27/02 Spy Game
7/27/02 The Insider
7/28/02 Toy Story
7/29/02 Amelie
7/29/02 Moulin Rouge
7/30/02 Shallow Hal
8/01/02 Apocalypse Now (redux)
8/04/02 O`Brother Where Art Thou
8/04/02 Unbreakable
8/09/02 Spy Game
8/12/02 Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
8/15/02 Tennessee Titans versus Oakland Raiders Preseason
8/16/02 Pulp Fiction
8/18/02 Jackie Brown
8/19/02 Heart's War

-blockhead
 

remp

Disabled Account
2001-11-13 5:19 am
New Zealand
Haldor

Good info, thanks a lot

Schmanthony

If your not having any macrovision problems dont be too concerned. What I am doing here is continuing Moriens good opening post about macrovision and looking at a "potential" problem later on down the track when macrovision wrap their copy protection system around every thing people want to watch. They are even moving into pay per view TV now so if you go out and set your VCR to record a really special program they wont let you.

So if we can keep hammering away at macrovision two things should happen

(A) It will become clear that all or some or only a very few projection panels are affected by macrovision.

(B) Workable solutions have already been identified by DIYAUDIO people and ready for use by those who need them

It seems very clear that most of the guys on this board are not having serious macrovision problems or if they did have already found ways to get around it.

I dont actually have any macrovision problems because all my projector does is project free to air TV which is not macrovision encoded so I am at a disadvantage trying to nut this out. Have to sort of do it by just reading about macrovision and what other guys have done.

Blockhead. Thanks for info. If you took out the Tv -3000 would you have macrovision problems. ??
 
I got lucky when I bought my DVD player not realizing the importance of macrovision being disabled. The guy I bought it off said it was worldzone and macrovision free. The unit is a Hiteker AD1000. Not a bad little unit although it does have a problem with areas of grey and blues being pixilated. Other than that it seems to play fine.

I now have an ASK Impact 24 LCD panel and a Buhl 109 overhead projector for my home theater. Quite a good setup for such a small investment, AU$650.

For some details and pics, see my website at http://www.geocities.com/karl4hub

Another DVD player that is macrovision free is one called Viewmaster, but I can't remember the model. My friend bought it and is very happy with it.