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Thoughts on recent changes in Blu-Ray Copy Protection.

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#1 of 26 Samcor



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Posted December 17 2010 - 04:31 PM

Recently I experienced an issue with the playback of the Toy Story 3 blu-ray with my Sony BDP-S350 player (updated to the latest firmware) that left me a little puzzled. After having played a 150 odd blu-rays up to that point with no issues, I was suddenly faced with a movie presentation where my eyes detected micro-second pauses during the course of the film (Maybe the fact it was a CG movie heightened the issue). After some digging and research I found the cause of these micro pauses. The movie file on the disc was not one large file but rather 40 or 50 smaller files (I forget the exact number). The reason for this is apparently due to a change in copy protection thus making the film harder to rip from the disc. Further testing showed the places where I had experienced the micro pauses were places where the player was branching from one segment of the film to the next. After witnessing this on other recent Blu-rays I decided to opt for a newer machine, one that hopefully would be able to handle the file transitions during the film better.

I opted for the Sony BDP-S570. Updated to the latest firmware, it too suffers the micro pauses. Frankly I'm not impressed as an honest Blu-ray buying consumer.

Disks that I've confirmed that use this method of splitting the movie into multiple smaller pieces and have witnessed the micro pauses on are:

Prince of Persia

Twilight: Eclipse

Avatar Collectors Edition

Toy Story 3.

Has this switch in protection caused annoyance to anyone else or am I alone on this one?

#2 of 26 Matt Hough

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Posted December 18 2010 - 12:32 AM

I've reviewed three of the four films you mention as having this, and I've had no problems (that I've noticed). I switch between a PS3 and a Panasonic BD-80 for reviewing discs. but neither of these machines seems to have exhibited any momentary lapses playing these titles.

#3 of 26 Charles Smith

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Posted December 18 2010 - 01:35 AM

The only one of those I have is TS3.  Didn't notice anything on a first casual viewing, but I'll pay close attention next time and report back.

#4 of 26 dpippel



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Posted December 18 2010 - 02:46 AM

I've viewed TS3 and the Avatar disc multiple times. No micropauses or any other issues with playback on my PS3.
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#5 of 26 Samcor



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Posted December 18 2010 - 04:08 AM

I guess another way to describe the issue I'm seeing is a momentary stutter in the playback but it can be very subtle (less than a second). Unfortunatly now that I'm aware of it I can't not see them. If you spot any motion in a scene that looked a little weird, rewind, replay and if it plays the segment smooth as silk the 2nd time that's likely one of the file branch spots. I checked out Prince of Persia's file structure last night and some of the files are 2 seconds in length. That's nuts. So the player is seamless branching it's way through the film, stiching it back together like a mad man. Personally I wouldn't have a problem with it if there werent any noticeable side effects.

I'm going to try and get a hold of a PS3 slim today to see if it is showing the same symptoms.

Also not all of the branches exhibit a visible stutter/micropause. I watched Prince of Perisa right through last night and detected about 4 stutters related to the branching when the movie is made up of 60, 70, 80 odd files. That was on the BDP-S570.

#6 of 26 Xylon


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Posted December 18 2010 - 09:20 PM

Those issues has nothing to do with copy protection.

Clean your discs.

#7 of 26 Felix Martinez

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Posted December 19 2010 - 02:06 AM

Sounds like your player's optical pickup. Many many moons ago my Sony DVD player (2nd generation) had these "vibration hops" and I went crazy trying to figure out what was going on. Turns out they had to replace the "optical pickup." Don't think this has anything to do with copy protection.

#8 of 26 TonyD


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Posted December 19 2010 - 12:42 PM

So you are buying new machins and returning them each time?


#9 of 26 Stephen_J_H


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Posted December 19 2010 - 01:24 PM

I've had a BDP-S350 for nearly 2 years now. TS3 is the only one of the titles listed that I've watched. No problems here.

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#10 of 26 Samcor



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Posted December 19 2010 - 02:38 PM

This will be a little long so I apologise. I'll just reiterate some facts:

I have two Blu-ray players. A bdp-s350 (latest firmware) - two years old. A bdp-s570 (latest firmware) - 1 week old.

Recent release Blu-rays now have the main film split up into multiple files on the disk (potentially hundreds of files). Older blu-ray titles and recent catalogue titles do not and the main feature is stored on the disk as a single m2ts file.

The places where I have seen the stutter moments are places on the disk where 1 of the movie files ends and another begins. I've confirmed this using software DVDFab which allows you to see and play the indivdual component files. You don't need this software to check whether the film is plit up into multiple pieces.

For example, if you load Toy Story 3 in a PC blu-ray drive and check this location: BDMVSTREAM

You'll see all the m2ts video files that are on the disc. The film Toy Story 3 is 27GB on the disc but you'll find the largest file on the disc is only 6GB. You will however see a bugger load of smaller files. If you repeat the same experiment on older titles you'll be able to find large GB files representing the entire movie as a single file. Here in lies the issue I am witnessing.

With these new Blu-ray releases the Blu-ray player is handed a list of all the files pertaining to the film and it is the players job to string it all back together to create the complete film (Using seamless branching). The file listing for each title on the disc can be found here: BDMVPLAYLIST

On ToyStory 3 the file 00801.mpls represents the film. If you open it in notepad you'll see the string of M2TS files the player is having to retrieve and splice together to create the film. The whole point of this is to make it harder to rip the movie of the disc. If you do you end up with a bugger load of small M2TS and they aren't all in naming order either (to doubly tick off pirates).

So back to my original point. For the most part the seamless branching experience of putting these movies back together is seamless but there are some subtle anomolies as a result of this change in the way the movie is handled on the disc. I know it is due to this as I pointed out before, I'm seeing the anomoly at the exact moment a file split has occured on the disc.

Now I'm not saying that all Blu-ray players are going to show any issues with this but I have two here that do. What I was hoping to do here was bring focus to this change of formatting on the disks and the potential it has to cause visual annomilies in the playback (albeit subtle) and see if anyone else has witnessed what I have. Perhaps I'm too picky when it comes to this, or perhaps I have really bad luck when it comes to Blu-Ray players. Either way I've researched this issue for days, done numerous tests and it is driving me slightly nuts.

Also for the record, for the most part my players are doing a pretty good job of not showing the seams in the film, only a handful of times during these movies have I spotted it skipping a beat and it's not always in the same places either (But it's always at a file split point).

#11 of 26 Samcor



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Posted December 19 2010 - 02:45 PM

One other thing from my testing:

- Toy Story 3 shows signs of the issue on the BDP-S350 but not on the BDP-S570 (Not that I've spotted and I have eagle eyes)

- Prince of Persia shows it on both players but this may have something to do with the fact that it's split up into to way more pieces than Toy Story. Either way its the same issue.

#12 of 26 Samcor



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Posted December 19 2010 - 03:00 PM

Here's a small sample of the amount of branching that is going on. This is from the very start of Prince of Persia. I've included the actual running time of the footage in these particular segments of the film and they are in sequence. Anyone else think this is nuts?:

00066.m2ts 912,426kb 00:04:33
00421.m2ts 48,384kb 00:00:15
00422.m2ts 26,430kb 00:00:08
00423.m2ts 69,174kb 00:00:22
00424.m2ts 39,756kb 00:00:12
00425.m2ts 15,306kb 00:00:04
00426.m2ts 356,130kb 00:01:51
00427.m2ts 39,290kb 00:00:12
00428.m2ts 15,00kb 00:00:04
00429.m2ts 227,490kb 00:01:15

#13 of 26 Samcor



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Posted December 19 2010 - 03:12 PM

For comparison sake, here's Back to the Future 3 on Blu-Ray. Spot the difference:

00010.mt2s 33,014,964kb 01:58:24

#14 of 26 TonyD


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Posted December 19 2010 - 03:34 PM

what are those numbers all about?


#15 of 26 Cees Alons

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Posted December 19 2010 - 07:11 PM

Assuming that those lines mean < file name >  <file size >  < playing duration >, I have to agree that files of 4 seconds (and even 8 or 12) are idiotic, in principle. There might be a reason, though, but I doubt these reasons are linked to "protection".

Are you sure those files are indeed all part of the normal, standard stream of the movie?


#16 of 26 Xylon


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Posted December 19 2010 - 08:54 PM

Lots of blu-rays have that file structure for a looooooong time. Again nothing to do with copy protection.

#17 of 26 Todd H

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Posted December 20 2010 - 12:23 AM

Maybe it's a setting in your television? Perhaps your television doesn't handle 24fps very well?

I have all the Blu-rays you have mentioned and have zero problems on either my BD30 or PS3.

#18 of 26 Dennis Maricic

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Posted December 20 2010 - 01:00 AM

Samcor it might be helpful if you supplied time codes for when you are seeing this behaviour in the movies.

That way we can going directly to that moment in the film and see if we can recreate the behaviour.

#19 of 26 smithb



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Posted December 20 2010 - 01:10 AM

I'm assuming a player has some sort of buffering to take into account any time lapse between reading files. Similarly to DVD players when switching layers. Some players probably handle this better then others.

But it is also possible Chris is just more sensitive to this situation then others responding in this thread. For example, some have issues with PAL speed up that makes watching/listening to them impossible while others don't. Some have issues with DLP rainbows while other do not. I recall instances where a person that originally didn't have an issues was shown how to look for it and then could no longer ignore it. Chris may have discovered a sensitivity he has that can no longer be ignored because he has over researched it.

#20 of 26 Douglas Monce

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Posted December 20 2010 - 02:06 AM

Originally Posted by Xylon 

Lots of blu-rays have that file structure for a looooooong time. Again nothing to do with copy protection.

Lots of DVDs have had that kind of file structure for a long time also.


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