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Automatic Scanning for Cameras in Theaters 352

Posted by michael
from the spy-vs.-spy dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Florida firm claims to have found a solution for the movie industry to prevent bootlegging in theaters. Tom's Hardware carries a story about Trakstar, which demonstrated its 'PirateEye' technology in a Hollywood movie theater to journalists and movie industry representatives: The technology uses light impulses to detect video recording devices. A second component is an audio watermarking system."
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Automatic Scanning for Cameras in Theaters

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  • Bootlegging (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Liselle (684663) * <slashdot.liselle@net> on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:46AM (#10787300) Journal
    Ahh yes, the solution to bootlegging in theatres. How much of a problem is this anyway, though? I've seen copies of movies taken by some guy with a camcorder... the audio quality is always lousy, people chatter in the background, and there is invariably some big guy who takes a popcorn break right in the middle of the movie. We won't get into the video aspect, which is dog awful. Sounds like someone solving a non-problem, as usual.

    The real issue are those screeners, which they've made some progress with (I hear), and the people who work in the theatres, which will be difficult. I doubt someone getting paid close to minimum wage is going to care about your IP. Watermarking sounds promising.
    • Re:Bootlegging (Score:3, Interesting)

      That's exactly what I was going to say. It's not much different from recording a song off the radio onto your cassette tape. I've actually downloaded music that was obviously recorded in this way. It's simply terrible.

      They have done a lot of work to prevent abuse by screeners. As for movie theatre employees, there are a lot of the same issue with quality.
    • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:53AM (#10787399)
      The equipment is designed to be installed by theater management, and ALWAYS be running. If it's tampered with, a call center is notified. And if any "detections" are made, the same call center is notified, and then a live person makes the decision to notify the local theater's security and management. If it's not tampered with AND a camera detection isn't made, then the audio portion has a watermark that contains the exact theater and time the recording was made. See my post here [slashdot.org].
      • by Marc2k (221814) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:18AM (#10787696) Homepage Journal
        Simple, I learned this from Murdoch on the A-Team.

        All you need to do is take a polaroid of the movie theatre from the detector's perspective, then affix something to prop up the polarioid in front of the detector. Voila!
      • by Cecil (37810) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:32AM (#10787834) Homepage
        If it's tampered with, a call center is notified.

        I guess the pirates have nothing to be afraid of then. Nothing useful ever came out of talking to a call center.
      • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:32AM (#10787839)
        The equipment is designed to be installed by theater management, and ALWAYS be running. If it's tampered with, a call center is notified. And if any "detections" are made, the same call center is notified, and then a live person makes the decision to notify the local theater's security and management.
        Wow, that sounds impressive! And extremely expensive!!

        Seriously, they would never recoup costs of $thousands for every screen in the world. Not unless they believe their own inflated damage estimates (I predict they don't). And it's an incredibly risky investment. I give it 2 weeks before somebody figures out you can defeat it by covering the camcorder's infrared autofocus light with a piece of masking tape, or installing a lens hood, or before they simply have to trash the whole system because it triggers the emergency response system every time somebody wearing coke-bottle glasses walks in.

        Not that I care, I've never even seen a "screener."

      • Because it's really difficult to make an audio recording. :) A camera needs to be rather high and pointed towards the screen, making it rather easy to detect (but it won't be very soon, as portable recording equipment improves). However, to record audio I just need to get the almost invisible mike out of my pocket. It's so easy, that audio watermarking is going to be absolutely pointless.

        And of course, it's extremely easy to combine cam video made in one theatre (say in South Korea, or France, or Sweden) w
    • Re:Bootlegging (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gentoo Fan (643403)
      Sounds like someone solving a non-problem, as usual.

      The supposed problem is the supposed cash loss due to piracy, so naturally Hollywood will want theaters to pay for these devides (despite the fact that they could simply be turned off via a small bribe to the theater operator for a particular showing). And with the increased cost will come increased ticket prices. I wonder if movie execs do studies on just how much a movie go'er will pay for a movie. I haven't been in a theater in a few years, so I do
    • Re:Bootlegging (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tethys_was_taken (813654) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:54AM (#10787404) Homepage
      There is a very large market for these so called "camera print" movies in Eastern countries like China, Korea and Malaysia. India is just beginning to get onto this. This mostly happens because English movies used to release in these countries a couple of months after the "international" release, and also because the average cost of a VCD/DVD is unbelievably high (singe movie = almost 20% of the average monthly income).

      Someone takes a video, uploads it, and soon it's being copied all over the world in tiny shops with 2-3 burners. I suppose this is one of the main problems they are trying to solve.
    • by nwbvt (768631)
      "the audio quality is always lousy, people chatter in the background, and there is invariably some big guy who takes a popcorn break right in the middle of the movie."

      I take it you have never been to a movie theater. Thats how movies there always are.

      • Re:Bootlegging (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zorilla (791636)
        You must be from Oklahoma City or something. While I was stationed there, their main theater in town had the center channel cut out the first time I went there, the AC went out the second time, and the fire alarm went off the third time, cutting out a good four minutes of the movie.
    • But! (Score:3, Funny)

      by koi88 (640490)

      ...people chatter in the background, and there is invariably some big guy who takes a popcorn break right in the middle of the movie.

      But you must admit that this gives you the real cinema feeling. If there was a smell of popcorn and artificial butter it would be undistinguishable from a real cinema...

      Watermarking sounds promising.

      Watermarking? Sounds like something my dog also finds interesting.
    • Re:Bootlegging (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs&ajs,com> on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:00AM (#10787489) Homepage Journal
      Seems to me that the solution is to take a bunch of these bad camcorder recordings and merge them. You should easily be able to compensate for the skew from different seating locations and jitter by comparing 3 or more recordings and establishing a sense of where the screen is in each and what how the screens map to each other.

      That blurs the watermarking, can allow you to improve the image quality, remove problems like people standing up and getting in the way, etc.

      Audio watermarking is also defeatable. Someone slide an engineer at this company a few k for the specs and you can just use Felton's approach.

      This post is not meant to encourage anyone, I'm just trying to point out to the industry (in case they're listening) that an arms race is not a particularly wise course of action. To quote The Hunt For Red October, "this will get out of control."
    • Re:Bootlegging (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angstroem (692547)

      I've seen copies of movies taken by some guy with a camcorder... the audio quality is always lousy [...]

      Interestingly, these are -- to my limited experience -- a minority by far. Most copies were of astonishing, yet even DVD, quality which makes me wonder where they came from. The really good quality must come right from the source of distribution, not from the minimum wage guy at the theater.

      Speaking of audio watermarking: until proven wrong, I do not believe in *robust inaudible* or inaudible but un

      • Re:Bootlegging (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DaHat (247651)
        Around the same time that a movie hits the theaters, a good # of internal use only DVD's are often manufactured. Some are used for review copies, other are used for connected employees.

        The family of a friend of mine has a few good connections within the Hollywood industry and has access to DVD's of feature films with relative ease. Sadly, my friend has never permitted me to borrow one of these discs.

        Sadly, it does make sense though. Why charge an employee of X to buy/see/etc one of X's products? It would
    • I believe the real problems are these...

      1. People not wanting to wait for the movie to hit t.v. or DVD.
      1a. This may be a result of crowded theatres with bad food, and possibly high ticket prices for a single showing.

      2. High DVD prices in some places. Some have it for like $10 each, which is a good price I believe. But when some stores sell DVDs for $20+, will a low income person be willing to pay that much to watch a movie?
    • I work in a place that sells a ton of high-end portable DVD players.

      Virtually every single one of them sold, the customer will bring them back to us in a week, complaining that they won't play their DVDs. So, I ask them to show me one of their discs, and they are always solid-white label, with the name of a movie (usually one that's just now out in theaters) printed directly on the face of it, in something like Arial 15pt.

      HUGE HUGE HUGE business. And they are mostly camcorder takes.

      Sure, screener DVD
    • Re:Bootlegging (Score:3, Interesting)

      by danila (69889)
      Watermarking is promising, but only if you can pull it off 100%. That is you need to develop watermarking technology that can be added to thousands of prints made, that is difficult to detect and remove, which does not negatively affect image quality, which will survive a poor quality cam recording and MPG/AVI encoding, to force all your distributors worldwide to implement camera tracking systems (and if you can't persuade the distributors in Egypt to do it, you either end up with Egiptian video + USA audio
  • by stecoop (759508) * on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:46AM (#10787301) Journal
    Let's turn this technology around for our use in civil liberties; thus, making the product a threat. I would like to have this in a backpack. Imagine if it could detect a camera from several hundred yards and direct a laser (preferably mounted on a shark) to that camera thwarting intrusive surveillance. Yeah lets see how long until the Men in Black would allow this.

    But really, the issue at hand is cameras in theaters. Is the bootleg market that big? I have seen some movies that were recorded with a camcorder and they were funnier to watch the action of recording than the movie. The market has to adjust to the viewing habits; it appears people may want to watch new movies using alternative methods (aka internet). Don't most movies nowadays make more money from DVD sales then the actual movie? I wonder if the movies were released simultaneously to theaters, DVD, video on demand, video of Internet, etc if this would be an issue?

    Now lets bring the two views together from paragraph 1 and 2. Just as the public sector adapt to use changing technology, the movie industry needs to adapt to the situation.
    • Ok, well while on the point of civil liberties, how long until this is used by law enforcement to discourage video taping of "sensitive areas"? Just a few months ago, a man was arrested in Charlotte, NC [cnn.com] for video taping buildings. Authorities suspected that he was video taping them for terrorist purposes, however there is no evidence linking him to terrorist activities according to Tom Ridge (secretary of Homeland Security). How long will it be before companies are deploying these systems around their ca
    • I'm starting to wonder what the real issue with bootlegging is. As you and others have already pointed out, seeing a bootlegged version of the movie is like watching it in the theater while having a seizure. I don't know of anyone who saw a bootlegged movie and thought "Wow, that was so good, I don't need to see the movie in the theater now!"
      However, I do know a few people, myself included, who saw a bootleg and said "Wow, this movie sucks, the quality of the bootleg does it justice." And I think that's r
    • The market has to adjust to the viewing habits; it appears people may want to watch new movies using alternative methods (aka internet). Don't most movies nowadays make more money from DVD sales then the actual movie? I wonder if the movies were released simultaneously to theaters, DVD, video on demand, video of Internet, etc if this would be an issue?

      I'll keep my response limited to legal methods of viewing a movie.

      IMO, there are only 2 reasons to go to a theater in the first place. The first reason
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:46AM (#10787303)
    Looks like it's also being promoted as a tool to prevent employees from doing the pirating themselves: the "PirateEye" camcorder detector and the "TrakStar TVS" audio watermarking system, ostensibly installed by theater management, are apparently connected, and if one is disconnected from the other, loses power, or is otherwise tampered with, TrakStar's call center (a paid service, I'm sure) is notified, which can then make an independent decision to call security: Is the movie supposed to be exhibited now? Is the anti-piracy equipment still intact and functioning? This is in addition to the tracking information that audio watermarking can provide (i.e., to certain theaters and certain times, narrowly identifying "offenders").

    You can bet a company like this is angling to position itself to be EVERYWHERE, much like Macrovision - and then, one wonders if "offending" theaters will be punished by, say, having new releases withheld?

    http://trakstar.net/solutions.htm [trakstar.net]
    • Management is in on pirating too. All they have to do is turn the antipirating device off at night when they close at normal hours (incase it logs its own use), then play the movie one more time without it.

      Or they can grab the reel and pop it in a telecine machine.

      As for watermarking..they do that with video now and we get past it. Doing it with audio is even easier to bypass. All you need is two recordings from seperate theaters to compare against. If you're just doing audio, one can be done with a simp
      • Management is in on pirating too. All they have to do is turn the antipirating device off at night when they close at normal hours (incase it logs its own use), then play the movie one more time without it.

        The device appears to be intended to be enabled at all times, according to the manufacturer's marketing materials. And "management" might also be at a higher level than the theater itself. Granted, if the entire theater local, regional, and corporate management is "in on it" (unlikely), you could bypass
        • And the watermark is present on the assistive hearing jack; that's the point.

          Yes, that was his point too - he *wants* an audio recording with the watermark present, and that's a good way of getting a good quality recording without having to film the entire movie and then split out the audio track.
          • Ahh, indeed...I see what he's getting at: making audio-only recordings (a lot easier to do than setting up a camera) so as to have multiple copies to more easily strip the watermark.

            The company (naturally) seems convinced that they're immune to this; we'll see.
      • Doing it with audio is even easier to bypass. All you need is two recordings from seperate theaters to compare against.

        They claim it's immune to that...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:47AM (#10787320)
    Is this going to affect my ability to bring in and drink beer at the movie theater?
  • Heh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by krymsin01 (700838) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:48AM (#10787340) Homepage Journal
    PirateEye(TM) detects the covert presence of camcorders in-theater and establishes their precise location without impacting the moviegoer's experience in any way. Yeah, cause you want the pirate to get the movie experience he/she deserves.
    • Well, first, there's no need to interrupt all the innocent movie goers' enjoyment of the movie, and second, the article pointed out that the cameras can detect cell phones with cameras. It would be possible to be identified as a bootlegger without recording anything. I'd like to think they would check to make sure you weren't just coming from Disney with the kids. But then, maybe the technology only works when the camera is recording. I didn't really understand the subtleties from the article.
      • Re:Heh... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by krymsin01 (700838)
        The impression I got was that it sends a pulse of light into the theatre, somehow picking up on the lense of the camera. I'm sure I'm missing something though, because under this model my glasses would set it off probably. Not enough information, but if they published the specs it'd most likely be easy to find holes in their system.
        • Re:Heh... (Score:3, Informative)

          by LiquidCoooled (634315)
          This system is NOT automatic.

          Heres what I found:

          PirateEye's hidden cameras scan a movie audience, eight seats at a time, looking for things resembling a camcorder lens. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to scan a 1,000-seat audience. Images are sent to a technician watching a computer screen, who might be monitoring several theaters at a time from as far away as India, according to S&EA. Potential camcorder lenses are indicated on the computer screen with tiny red dots.

          http://www.thememoryblog.org/archives/0
  • by Anonymous Coward
    i thinx cameras are the lest of the movie industry's worry . try patching up the holes were the screeners are comming from first.
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:49AM (#10787354) Homepage Journal
    .. is a brute-force attack against CCD's and other camera optics.

    Some sort of electronic/optical flash system that, when activated, overblows CCD's, or otherwise interferes with their operation.

    Then I could sell it to guys like this [cnn.com] and make a fortune...

    (And before you liberties people get started, I believe I have a right to not get my picture taken, when I want not to get my picture taken..)
    • (And before you liberties people get started, I believe I have a right to not get my picture taken, when I want not to get my picture taken..)

      That's true. You can stay inside your house whenever you want.


    • ST:TNG Episode 106. When Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) and Ensign Robin (Ashley Judd [ashley-judd.net] -yummy) develop a strobe-light sequence to counteract the effects of a mind-controlling VR game.

    • CCDs pickup infrared signals as a bright white spot. All the theaters would have to do is get the movie screen to eminate some infrared, and that's that.

      Of course, in that case, there is no monthly service fee to pay Trakstar for their Alarm Force-like service.

      ATTENTION MOVIE PATRONS: WE HAVE NOTICED SOMEONE IS USING A CAMERA. TRAKSTAR RECOVERY PERSONELLE HAS BEEN DISPATCHED.
    • And before you liberties people get started, I believe I have a right to not get my picture taken, when I want not to get my picture taken.

      on your own property? yes you do.

      in public? Not a chance in hell.

      I already had a nice fight with a jerk that though his "image" was his property in a public place.

      It's sad that as a indie documentarian I have to use lawyers and courts against some idiot that saw we were recording, walked behind the subject and into frame and then tried to demand the tape we were sh

    • Some sort of electronic/optical flash system that ... overblows CCD's, or otherwise interferes with their operation.

      So what are you waiting for? I'm pretty sure that this [thinkgeek.com] fits the bill, and it's been out for years.

    • ...and wrap it around your head, shiny side out. That will protect you against *any* type of camera. You'll become absolutely invisible to cameras. Guaranteed.
    • then stop emmiting photons. Your are the one polluting us with your sight.
  • by Zorilla (791636)
    ...they misspelled "infrared"

    Way to market to idiots.
  • by ControlFreal (661231) * <niek@@@bergboer...net> on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:51AM (#10787365) Journal

    Once the DVD's hit the shelves in any country, the stuff will be on the net anyway.

    Sharing it could become easier and safer also: I2P [i2p.net] --- an anonymous onion-routing network --- now has a functional BitTorrent client that functions completely within I2P (tracker, peer-to-peer traffic, everything).

    For those on I2P, get it here: http://duck.i2p/i2p-bt/files/i2p-bt-0.1.0.tgz (this URL only works when you're running I2P).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:51AM (#10787376)
    Now can they invent some kind of device that detects shitty movies? A shitty footage detector could be used during shooting and editing to stop shitty movies before they start.

    The companion shitty dialogue filter would be indispensible as well.
  • by bigjnsa500 (575392) <[bigjnsa500] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:52AM (#10787381) Homepage Journal
    This still won't work because all the good movies rips come from France or England.
  • by the_weasel (323320) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:52AM (#10787386) Homepage
    Okay, reading the scanty information they provide seems to indicate that it does its trick by bathing the room with IR light.

    Somehow the camera is supposed to respond to this. My knee jerk reaction was that all you needed to do was put tape over the remote control sensor and you would be good to go.

    But they would undoubtedly have thought to create a system more resistant to spoofing than that. So I am stumped. I assume they are relying on some response from the lens? The feature list says it can't be fooled by pinhole cameras or even filters on the lenses, so thats what I base my guess on.

    Anyone with more information care to speak up?

    Which i thought was pretty funny. Read
    • one is left wondering if you ever read the actual article...
      • One would be right. I missed the little story link, and only saw the link to the company website.

        Thanks....
        • Except of course, that the article in Tom's hardware is just as useless, and only quotes the website. Smartass.

          So we are back to my original post. So, how the hell does this work? Does it harness the miracle powers of Fudge?

          • sends short pulses of collimated visible light out from the front of the auditorium. Any lenses will retroreflect and the software in the system will work out what are ordinary spectacles (one or two lenses in an assembly) and what are cameras (several lenses cemented together (usually more than two)). That way, as it is using visible light, filtering it will affect the picture.
          • IR affects CCD's. (Score:3, Informative)

            by Otto (17870)
            The CCD sensor array in a digital camera is sensitive to IR light. This is easily shown.. Take your webcam, plug it in and get it to display what it sees on your computer screen. Point an IR remote control at it and hit a button. You'll see a white/red flash on the camera's output.

            CCD's see IR, people don't. So if they flood the room with IR from several locations, it'll ruin any digital recording devices ability to see the film without affecting your ability to see it. This works for all camcorders, more
    • by ControlFreal (661231) * <niek@@@bergboer...net> on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:08AM (#10787571) Journal

      Somehow the camera is supposed to respond to this. My knee jerk reaction was that all you needed to do was put tape over the remote control sensor and you would be good to go.

      Apparently, the system strobes the theater with a low-intensity light (visible wavelength, it says on their page (strange)), and records images of the public in the IR range.

      It seems that camera-lenses reflect that light, and that these reflections can be recorded.

      Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that you would still like to record your movie in the cinema, even though getting it through suprnova is much easier. Then the only thing you need to make sure is that your camera doesn't reflect light in the IR spectrum. A good lens-coating (having a broad stopband in IR) could do that. Using a very small lens (pin-hole camera) could do it.

      Beware: They list that the system can't be fooled by, say, pin-hole cameras for two reasons: Marketing, and FUD. I don't believe, not for a moment, that one can detect a pin-hole camera like this.

      • It seems that camera-lenses reflect that light, and that these reflections can be recorded.

        And it helps a lot that any camera lens they're worried about is always going to be pointed directly at the screen. That constrains the geometry and makes it simple to locate the source of the reflection.

        I don't believe, not for a moment, that one can detect a pin-hole camera like this.

        Agreed... But who has a pinhole video camera?

      • by eth1 (94901) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @12:43PM (#10788737)
        "It seems that camera-lenses reflect that light, and that these reflections can be recorded."

        It seems like they'd be getting hits off everyone in the theatre that wears glasses if they were doing something like that.
    • The anti-pirate camera is filming the reflection off of the IR filter on the camcorder. Most modern camcorders use chips that are ultra-sensitive to IR wavelengths. In order to block it, filters are installed behind the lens. By beaming an IR lightsource into the theater, you can pick up any filter in the audience-- it will glow light a flame.

      Remember the Sony "nightvision" cameras that caused the uproar over filming through clothes? The camera had the ability to shunt the IR filter to the side and film
      • The camera had the ability to shunt the IR filter to the side and film in near-infrared.

        If you put this filter/beamsplitter in front of the lens you could reflect the IR from the anti-pirate system off to the side, much like a stealth plane reflects radar to somewhere other than the detector. A little bit of careful beamsplitter/filter selection and the camera is invisible again, and can still see the screen.

        Then they'll start putting detectors all over the theater to catch the light that pirates reflec
  • by stubear (130454) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @10:56AM (#10787423)
    ...if it detects a video camera in the theaters is stop the film, turn the lights on, and make an announcement that there is a person in the theater who is illegally recording the movie and this is the cause for the delay. The movie will commence once the perpetrator has been identified and leaves the theater. Come to think of it, this system should search for obnoxious kids and cell phones too.
    • Well they claim it can give a precise location of the offender, so from there it's a simple matter of a high intensity spotlight and some servos hooked up to the system, with a booming voice on the PA system. "The person now being brightly lit is the one responsible for ruining your viewing of tonight's feature presentation".

    • ...if it detects a video camera in the theaters is stop the film, turn the lights on, and make an announcement that there is a person in the theater who is illegally recording the movie and this is the cause for the delay.

      This would just be really stupid and stop a lot of people from coming to the theaters. I mean, I would never pay a nickel to go se a movie in a theater which has a policy of stopping the movie, thus ruining the experience (IMHO is the only reason it's worth bout $14 to see a movie here
    • . Come to think of it, this system should search for obnoxious kids and cell phones too.

      Since a lot of new cell phones used by this kids have camara on it this system does just that.
  • The technology uses light impulses to detect video recording devices. A second component is an audio watermarking system.

    ...that the "detection mechanism" consists of a bad tempered "theater cop" who synchronizes his eye movement with the light impulses to scan the theater for cameras. When a camera is detected by the system, it triggers off a series of unique 4-letter word sequences which serves as the audio watermarking component of the mechanism.

  • The technology uses light impulses to detect video recording devices.

    That's a coincidence. My eyes use "light impulses" to see. So do cameras. Are we going to see another stupid patent now: "a method of procuring the location of objects by sensing light impulses"?
  • 10..9...8..7... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Manip (656104) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:00AM (#10787484)
    I am just counting down to the point when someone releases a filter to block all light on this wavelength. You might even be able to make one with stuff you can currently buy at the DIY shop. This would not effect the filming because the light it would filter is not visible. To this 'detector' the camera's lens with the filter would show as a black blob (non-detectable).

    This technology will be really easy to block.
  • Simple solution.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GrBear (63712) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:01AM (#10787501)
    Why don't the theater owners strategically place high output infrared (LEDs) light sources behind the screens. Since most of the screens are full of holes, it should allow enough infrared light through to severly mess up the image recorded by the camcorders.

    For those that don't understand, CCD cameras are highly sensitive to infrared light and will produce a white hotspot. Try it some time with your camcorder.. press a button on a remote while holding it infront of the camera and watch the results in the viewfinder. The higher output the IR, the bigger and more pronounced the hotspot would be.
  • Getting every movie theater in the World to install this technology, thats not going to happen anytime soon. Paying to have this installed in a couple hundred movie theaters, isn't going to make a dent in piracy.

    The movie people seem to be as dumb as they music people. The way Internet file sharing works is that you only need one source. Just one person with a camera, to distribute a movie around the globe. So protecting a few movie screens with this tech will not accomplish a damn thing. Just like the mu

    • For a long time now, I've doubted the validity of that assertion, but I don't know how I'd go about getting an answer for it.

      Theoretically, sure, one leaked copy of something means everyone can get it. But the same is true of the Ebola virus, and the vast majority of the human population is still here. Ditto AIDS, Herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia (sp -2), etc.

      I seem to recall reading about bioweapons research, and being able to reliably predict the scope and extent of the infected area. Why shouldn't the same

  • So if I pay to go to a cinema, rather than download a copy of the movie from the Web, they're going to mess up the picture and mess up the audio in order to make sure I don't tape it with a camcorder?

    Can someone remind me why I'd want to go to one of these cinemas?
  • by dark-br (473115)
    I've never taped the movies i went to but now the movie theather will be taping *ME*!

    Come on, no more banging on the last rows? Ok, I read Slashdot, not much banging anyway...

  • I want a mobile detector that scans for cameras in any room. A parallax-guided laser response is left as an exercise to the reader.
  • by Snaffler (311068)
    First, I find it humerous that a number of the first people to post comments all mentioned that they had watched pirated movies.

    Second, I have not seen a single post that adequately states how this technology really works. Given the level of technical ability /.'s readership is known for, I find that interesting.

    My guess? CCD cameras almost always use an infrared filter. They have to or the color gets screwed up. This technology bathes the theater in infrared light and the camera simply picks up the refle
  • Can someone remind me why I want to see a pirate copy of a movie shot with a handheld camera in the first place?

    I watched one once. The keyword there is one. It was really pointless. Not exactly a high fidelity experience. I guess if some people really desire the cinematic equivalent of a crack whore, each to his own.

    Far better to just wait and copy the DVD from Netflix. ;-)

  • by theguru (70699) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:21AM (#10787727)
    Here's a simple, possibly flawed idea. Install some high powered IR emitters around the screen. Most CCD cameras I've played with picked up invisible to the naked eye IR (like from a TV remote) as very bright white light. A halo of IR emitters, (possibly strobes?) shouldn't be noticeable by you and me sitting in the theater, but for an unfiltered camera would really wreck any quality of picture possible.
  • by Khyron (8855) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:22AM (#10787729)
    Is the sharing of "handycam" pirated movies really so much of a problem? This smells to me like a smart company marketing a product to an industry that still doesn't seem to "get" what's happening.

    I see news stories all the time about these "bandits" being caught in cinemas with recording devices - but anyone I know who downloads movies deletes anything that turns out to have been recorded this way. Instead, the vast, vast majority of the content available on p2p networks are high quality rips from the screener DVD produced to market the film before its release.

    Most of the time, these versions are not only of far higher quality but are available online days or even weeks before the film is even in theaters.

    If the cinemas really want to "solve" this problem, maybe they should lean on their distributors a little to change their obscene pricing so the tickets don't need to cost so much and the establishments don't need to inflate refreshments so ludicrously to maintain profitability.
  • PirateEye? (Score:3, Funny)

    by liquidsin (398151) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:22AM (#10787733) Homepage
    Will the update system be called "EyePatch"?

  • Imagine audio watermarking television programs by the customer. Imagine if your HD programs on the premium channels are audio watermarked so that if you copy them, release them onto the web, that they'll be able to track you down. Actually, this would be very fair since once you release them onto the web, it's not personal use anymore.
  • A quick visit to suprnova.org lists many screeners and much better digital quality movies that arent handheld captured from a theater. They should look in their own backyard and find out who leaks these movies instead of concentrate on shitty quality handhelds.
  • Here's a thought (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Since the system appears to detect only a camera lens, and not an active recording, why not attach a few lenses to your jacket (k001 l334 badgez, right), etc. After the "human verification" agent checks out a few hundred false alarms, the system fails.

    ALso, I hope they aren't trying to trademark all the quoted phrases on ther web page.....
  • by fr2asbury (462941) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:37AM (#10787916)
    on a tripod.

    Admittedly, I didn't read the story, I just jumped to the "demonstration." The demo seemed less than impressive as it showed that the "Pirate Eye" thing, found two shady looking characters sittinging in an oterwise empty theater sitting next to a tripod with a couple of large popcorn bags sitting on top with holes cut in them.
    Now certainly a less sophisticated detection method could be used to weed these guys out.
  • One way (almost the only way) it can work (to my naive mind) is if it's looking for a spectral component assoc. with CCD litho or possibly p/n junctions or .x mm-sized diffractive features. IOW, it's looking for an optical characteristic specific to a chip. Big tautology, but i'm a simple mind...

    This suggests that if we were to deploy a handful of EEPROM-typ chips (the UV-erasable things with the little windows) around the theater, we could probably spoof the system with false positives.

    it's a thought.
  • COOL!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sevn (12012) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @11:47AM (#10788038) Homepage Journal
    Screeners suck anyway. I'd love it if someone introduced a technology to keep them to a minimum. The REALLY cool thing about this technology is that you'll be able to use it to know if there is a hidden camera somewhere. Screw the theater. Wait til you can use this technology to find hidden camera's anywhere.
  • by AndreyFilippov (550131) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @12:33PM (#10788620) Homepage
    The only way I can think of you can detect a camera is a "red eye" effect. To make it not disturbing for viewers you have to make it invisible and so much less effective as the cameras have IR cutoff filters inside. So there are at least 2 things that can be done about that:

    1. Use additional high quality dielectric IR cutoff filters in front of the camera lens and

    2. Make fun of them - take pieces of reflective tape (maybe cut as circels) or bycicle reflectors and stick them to the walls and chairs in the theater. Make it look as there are dozens of cameras recording the show!
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @01:01PM (#10788974) Homepage
    "The impulses are only 20 ms in length. Neurons in the brain need about 40 ms to recognize the light source."

    What garbage! By that reasoning, the flash from a camera ought to be invisible.
  • How it works, really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday November 11, 2004 @02:26PM (#10790046) Homepage
    This technology has been around for years in the intelligence community. It was first used to determine whether a satellite had a camera.

    You can buy a handheld SpyFinder [yahoo.com]. Here's a customer review [dafh.org] with a discussion of how it works. It uses two lasers, one on the optical axis and one slightly off it, run alternately at a few Hz. Things that have focusing optics followed by a flat reflective surface (which includes most cameras) will blink. Ordinary shiny things will not.

    • You can buy a handheld SpyFinder. Here's a customer review with a discussion of how it works. It uses two lasers, one on the optical axis and one slightly off it, run alternately at a few Hz. Things that have focusing optics followed by a flat reflective surface (which includes most cameras) will blink. Ordinary shiny things will not.

      Do you actually have one?
      I would be doubtful as to the usefulness of that product given the only other item for sale is a high power laser pointer for ticking off birds. [yahoo.com]
    • by almaw (444279)
      No, it *doesn't* work like that. On their home page, in bold type:

      Note: PirateEye(TM) does not utlize LASER technology.

      If I were them, I'd take an IR picture, then illuminate with IR from in front and take another picture then compare the difference. Most objects don't reflect IR light, comparing things takes people, etc. out of the equation and then you're just left with shiny objects.

      You might be able to look at the locations of shiny objects (height, whether there are two of them right next to each

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