Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Doing my part to fight the piracy

I am supposed to review "Underworld: Evolution" (sequel to "Underworld") for the "Cinema" magazine. I got the review DVD from the distributor (labelled "Underworld: Evolution movie + trailer"), put it into my DVD player and got "This DVD Cannot be Played" message. I tried putting it into my PS2 and again - nothing.

As a last ditch attempt, I put the DVD into my Linux computer and tried opening it. It was immediately clear why I couldn't play it in the DVD player. It wasn't DVD-Video disc but data DVD-ROM containing only two unencrypted MPG video files. The first was the trailer for the first "Underworld" movie. The second was "Underworld: Evolution" itself. It played without problems on my computer. However, the picture looked like this:



This is not scaled-down, this is 1:1 full-size screengrab of the video. The picture is less than 400 pixels wide, about 150 pixels tall and looks like bad VHS copy. The counter in the corner and the text in the middle of the frame stay there for the whole goddamn movie.

Also of note is the sound quality. This is an MP3 of how it sounds during the whole movie.

I must stress again that this was an official screening copy provided by the official distributor for the purpose of writing the review of this movie. How the hell should I review it when I cannot see what is happening in some darker scenes and cannot hear the dialogue? In their quest to fight the piracy (see also this funny story), the distributors are really overdoing it.

But if they wanted to prevent me from uploading "Underworld: Evolution" to BitTorrent, they certainly succeeded. Thankfully, others already did that.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, you're reviewing the movie using the copy from BT? ;)

Fuxoft said...

You'd really like me to answer that, won't you? :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Fuxoft, I know you are laughing at publisher's attempts to counter piracy. I really enjoyed the funny article about Pirate Bay and lawyers.
However, aren't you afraid of losing these nice and juicy translation jobs once film industry goes bust? Or, to express it differently, do you think it's polite to bite the hand that feeds you?
I know it's a neverending subject, but do you think publishers have other options? I am not working in film industry, just thinking....

Fuxoft said...

Dear Anonymous,

First of all, those translation jobs can hardly be called "juicy" and I wouldn't dream of doing them if I did't love the movies I translate. If I translated porn, I'd earn almost the same money for much less work.

Secondly, film industry does not feed me. Film industry pays me for the work I do for them. It's a business relationship.

Thirdly, I don't share your view that higher piracy necessarily means lower box office grosses. I don't buy the argument "If there was no piracy, most of those people who downloaded the movie would see it as paying customers in the cinema" at all. But that's something we could argue about for weeks.

However, this post (about Underworld 2) has nothing to do with translations. I was given a copy of the movie solely in order to write the review. Maybe the movie has really cool sound effects or lighting. However, I simply CANNOT SEE/HEAR THAT from the copy I have. If that's not "shooting themselves in foot", I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

Smarja! Co je to za klauni tohleto? No to bych blil.

r0b0t said...

I think you should write review of the version you got.

Anonymous said...

dude, stop selling bootlegs and maybe, MAYBE they'll give a good copy

Anonymous said...

"you"... damn drugs

Anonymous said...

btw: What software you use for creating subtitles? I used to use SubtitleWorkshop back in my windows time for some subtitle adjustments and it was really powerfull, but it is not ported to linux and I was not able to run it under wine. Are ther eany linux alterntives?

Fuxoft said...

Anonymous: I use OpenOffice with custom formatting template and some really simple macros and MPlayer on another workspace. I don't need anything more because my job is not to actually match the subtitle timecodes with the scenes. That's another person's job, I just send them the Unicode text file.

However, I am seriously contemplating writing some kind of software myself (simple text editor which would automatically control the Mplayer).

Anonymous said...

I see. You are doing the exact opposite of what I am sometimes doing i.e. merging tw osubtitles in one, changing their lenght so that they correspond with the lenght of the movie... no direct writing nor translasting.

However, I am not sure if writing something new will do any good, there are said to be some programs that can handle subtitles already, but they are not able to do much stuff yet, so it will be just another in a row.

Anonymous said...

is translating movies a nicely payed job, do you do it as a fulltime work or only occasionally?

Fuxoft said...

I can tell you that subtitling the movie for Czech theatrical release nets you about $200 (based on number of subtitles). Nothing really special. I wouldn't do it if I couldn't pick the movies I want to translate. I can also translate movies for foreign companies. These movies are absolutely terrible but the money is better. Go figure.