Finally, digital movie sanity

If you read back through a few years of posts here – mind you, I can’t recommend actually reading the last ten years of posts, but let’s assume that you are very very bored – you will see the chronicles of a guy who really wanted to move all of his movies off of discs and into digital form so they could be stored on a server and accessed without needing to get up off the couch and look for discs.

Also, I had several bookshelves full of DVDs and there is something really pathetic about a living room that looks like a video store.

Most movies these days come with a digital copy code.  That wasn’t always the case, and I know far too much about DVD ripping and encoding as a result.  Not all movies come with a code I can use in iTunes, however, and this is annoying because a) I have a pretty substantial investment in Apple-branded gadgets and b) UltraViolet, the “not-iTunes” alternative is… well, it’s always struck me as something designed by committee, with far too many compromises.  iTunes codes let me download a local file, and I like having local files.

About 3 years ago, Disney came up with a neat idea – “Disney Movies Anywhere” – which let you redeem your digital copy codes in one central location and gave you access to your movies on your provider-of-choice.  It also tied into Disney’s rewards program, and over the years I have gotten a few free blu-rays out of the whole deal.

Oh, and if you BOUGHT a Disney movie on your digital provider-of-choice, that movie would sync back to Disney Movies Anywhere and then to your other sites.  So, even though I pretty much only use iTunes, I was able to snag a couple cheap movies off Google Play and have them sync over to iTunes.

As of last week, however, the “Disney Movies Anywhere” program has been rebranded to “Movies Anywhere” and now has most of the major studios on-board.  Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM are the significant holdouts, but having Warner, Sony, Universal, and Fox means that we are very close to a buy-once-play-anywhere future.

Two more things that are particularly good for me from this:

One, Vudu is a supported retailer for Movies Anywhere.  This doesn’t mean a lot by itself – though I suppose I can start looking at Vudu sales – but it means that I can take advantage of their “Disc 2 Digital” program, where I stick a disc into my computer, their software scans it, and then I can get a digital copy for $2… or, if I have a DVD and want an HD version, that will set me back five bucks.

I didn’t upgrade most of our DVDs to blu-ray because paying 20 or 30 bucks per disc was nuts.  I still won’t upgrade most of them to high def, but at only $5 per I am upgrading some of them.

Second, not being a fan of UltraViolet, I never redeemed any UV codes.  They have expiration dates printed on them, so I didn’t think they’d actually work…

…but apparently the expiration dates are more like guidelines.

The bottom two codes are actually from Warner’s digital copy program, pre-Ultraviolet, and I have a vague memory of trying to redeem them some years ago and being told that they were past their sell-by date, as it were.   It seems that they got a second life.

Oh, and third: Many of the older digital copies I had were SD copies.  A side effect of linking iTunes into MA is that those movies got free upgrades to HD.  I like free upgrades.

So, big thumbs-up from this geek.  Now they just need to get those last few studios into the program.


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