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ATI Cards and Macrovision

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ATI All-in-Wonder cards and Macrovision

I wanted to clarify that this procedure will in fact only disable the Macrovision Detection that refuses to allow a protected incoming video signal from being recorded, depending on the version of drivers and version of Multimedia center installed the behavior differs from graying out the record button to placing a green square over the video portion of the capture (but allowing the audio capture) If successful in using this patch you will still require some sort of Macrovision Removal device to get any decent capture, as some annoying artifacts that the Macrovision system introduces into the video signal will still remain. Also some protected content will still record with stuck or frozen frames. I have begun a crusade to find the product that will enable me to record a Macrovision encoded signal without the aid of any external devices, the devices that meet or failed can be viewed Here.

I recently tested the new 'Elite' and 'Wonder TV Pro' versions of ATI's stand alone TV tuner capture cards and unfortunately these also suffer the Macrovision issues of the All-in-Wonder cards.

I Recently purchased an ATI All-in-Wonder 9000 Pro with 64 megs of ram from my Local Future Shop
and proceeded to install it into my system. Everything went well and soon I was enjoying Television on my desktop, in Stereo with all the features you'd come to expect from a PVR (Personal Video recorder) It was able to output to a Television andl it came with a RF (Radio Frequency) Remote. It captured video directly into the MPEG 2 format which is perfect for authoring your own DVD's

My thoughts turned to my Daughters large VHS collection of movies that were collecting dust because the only VCR that worked was in our Bedroom (which has a 13'' T.V.) Hey.... here's a simple solution, I'll just record them with the ATI All-in-Wonder to MPEG 2 and author them to DVD. It made perfect sense Videotape degrades over time and who knows how much longer you'd still be able to purchase a VHS machine to play them with?

So I stared at the tangled nest of wires for a few minutes and started pulling frantically on each wire trying to free the VCR from tightening noose of wires.... finally 25 minutes of de-tangling the VCR was free! I proceeded to hook the darn thing up near the Computer and started the Transfer process, a few more minutes fiddling with wires and success... I see the picture..... I hear sound.... I press record and off it goes on its merry way for the duration of the movie, which was approx 2hrs long. I stopped the recording and decided to play it back to see just how well everything worked. What the &^$^#% %#@# happened I can hear the sound but all I see is a''Green Square''!

Enter Macrovision, the copy protection is transparent when content is viewed, but prevents or substantially degrades copies made on recording devices. Macrovision is detected by compliant PCs, which prevents recording to the hard drive, and personal video recorders, which inhibits file sharing. Just Great, I bought these VHS tapes, isn't only fair that I should be able to copy them? They degrade over time and eventually I won't be able to find a VCR to play them on. Why can't I make a copy for my use? Why should I buy them all-over again? What happened to fair use? I could live with a degraded copy but all I get is a Green square....!

After some extensive research I found www.digitalfaq.com they had a collection of ATI Hacks that might disable the dreaded MVD codec (MacroVision Detect). I could install them but the %#$&^ Macrovision was still working! A friend had suggested trying Older drivers as they might not have implemented the Macrovision detect feature in early drivers. I installed so many different versions of drivers that my system was going to overheat from the constant rebooting!

I was about to give up when then I saw these Omega/Plutonium Drivers with the following information about them. ''These drivers do attempt to remove Macrovision detection on All-in-wonder models, however this is not guaranteed, also note that using ATI WDM drivers after this will once again re-enable Macrovision detection''.

Bingo I thought to myself.... I installed them but had issues with the Audio cutting out, I figured it might be all the loading and unloading of drivers screwing up my Win XP system so I decided it needed a refresh. I re-installed Win XP on a nice new freshly formatted drive and after all was said and done I still had the same audio issue but the Macrovision detection was disabled!

Back to the Internet, somebody has to have figured out how to use these drivers and solve the Audio problem.... another lost night and I'm no further ahead! Now what? I read more articles checked out some forums (at least I'm not alone) They are talking about a device that removes the Macrovision signal from the VHS signal so I'm thinking remove the signal and away we go! I hunted down one called the Sigma Video Copy Master

I purchased it Through an E-Bay auction for a grand total of $54.00, after 7 days it arrived and I installed it as instructed, started my recording and checked my results to find I had been defeated once again by Macrovision!

Macrovision '3' - biline '0', so back to the internet and this time I was certain I had found the right device it was sold by Lik-sang and was called the 'Provision+ DVD Decoder V2'.

it arrived about 6 days later and I was down another $60.00 but convinced it would fix my battle with the dreaded Macrovision. I installed it and proceeded to record a section of VHS tape, I held my breath and hit Play to view my recording......
Macrovision '4' - biline '0', Now I was out over $110.00 and no closer to solving the problem. I retired for the night a mulled over my options as I tried to sleep.

So a new day has come to pass and I was more determined than ever to beat this Macrovision monster. Well let me tell you I must have installed Win Xp at least 10 times but I figured out a combo 1-2 punch that put Macrovision down for the count. I solved it using the methods outlined below (of course I used the hard way before finding out about the easy way)

How to Defeat Macrovision

Method One: easy file fix

Thanks to Bradley Poelstra who sent me this file which solves the issue with Macrovision using the latest MMC and WDM drivers, installation is simple you just need to download it Here.
The file is called 'atimvmvxx.ax' and needs to replace the file with the same name in your 'windows/system32' directory.
I have been informed that this fix may not work after rebooting windows so you will need to replace the file again if it fails to work, it has something to do with windows keeping track of files installed and replacing them with the originals. This can be fixed by hacking the registry and making some edits to the install package but I'll leave this for the brave among you to figure out as I don't need to responsible for any systems that fail to run after playing with the registry.

Update Jan 23 2007
Dave West sent me a procedure for fixing the 'atimvmvxx.ax' file from being replaced read it Here

Method Two: driver install fix

Download the following files:

1) Plutonium_xp_81.exe click Here

2) Tv-capture-wdm-6-14-01-6178v1.zip click Here

3) MMC-7-7-0-1-noDVD.exe click Here

I did all this on a fresh installation of Windows XP to avoid any .dll's from previous drivers that may be lurking around on the system. Your mileage may vary if attempting this on an existing Installation.

1) Install the Plutonium drivers it's actually a 2 step process as the first part extracts all the files and then asks you if you'd like to actually install the drivers. Complete this step and don't worry about the warning not tested etc.. just push the 'Continue anyway' button whenever it pops up (approx 6 times I think) The system will now ask to reboot, once this is done you'll get another whack of warning messages, as before hit the 'Continue anyway' button If you get any errors about hardware not working right just Ignore them for now. If asked to overwrite newer file always select Yes overwrite. At this point it should ask you to reboot once more (if not reboot anyway)

2) unzip the 'tv-capture-wdm-6-14-01-6178v1.zip' to a folder on your drive and note the path as you'll be using it often.

3) open 'Control Panel' and select 'System' then the 'Hardware' Tab, half-way down you'll see a button labeled 'Device Manager' click it, a new windows opens here click the '+' in front of 'Sound, video and game controllers' now basically what we want to do is force an upgrade to the drivers we unzipped in step 2, you need to do all the ATI devices except the 'ATI specialized MVD codec' DO NOT update this Item.

4) To update the drivers select the codec to upgrade and right-click the item, select 'Update Drivers', when the windows opens select the item 'Install from a list or specific location (Advanced)' click the 'Next' button to continue. In this window select the item that says 'Don't Search. I will choose the driver to install' click the 'Next' button to continue. Now select the 'Have Disk' button and click the 'Browse' button to go to the location you unzipped the file called 'tv-capture-wdm-6-14-01-6178v1.zip' it will be something like 'C:\tv-capture-wdm-6-14-01-6178v1\WDM_XP' you should see a file called 'atixpwdm.inf' select it and click the 'Open' button. Now click the 'OK' button, you should see a list that contains the following items:'ATI WDM TV Audio Crossbar', 'ATI WDM Specialized PCD Codec', 'ATI WDM Rage Theater Video', 'ATI WDM Rage Theater Audio', and the Dreaded (do not update) 'ATI WDM Specialized MVD Codec'. the list may differ depending on your version of the All-in-Wonder card .

5) Now that all the drivers are updated (of course you didn't update the 'ATI WDM Specialized MVD Codec') you should reboot before the last step

6) Install the file called 'MMC-7-7-0-1-noDVD.exe' (ATI Multi-Media Center) after that's done you should be Macrovision free......I have installed the 'MMC-8-1-0-0.exe' Multimedia Center Version 8.1 and have found that it works.....well sort of let me explain. What happens is that if MMC 8.1 detects a macrovision encoded signal the record button will disappear, so this is easy to fix, press the record before you start your tape! (you can edit the file later). Now your tape will start recording and everything will work, but you will eventually see this message 'The signal you are recording is protected and can only be viewed' don't panic don't click that 'OK' button just yet, you only click the 'OK' button when you wish to end your recording. You have the advanced features available in MMC 8.1 but you can't use the Timed stop options.

Final Thoughts
Even with the macrovision detect disabled, Macrovision does its job and renders the video signal in such a way that its very dull and loses a lot of the original color, Here I'm glad to say that both the Products I purchased make a marked improvement in the Video signal during recording and I highly recommend you use one when attempting a recording. Different versions of Macrovision exist and the later version (I think 1989 or later) can still cause havoc, frozen frames etc.. with this version neither device seems to help. For the alternative that completely solves the Macrovision issue click Here

Another problem I encountered was that the Line out Audio signal from the VCR was extremely loud and was very difficult to adjust, I went to Radio Shack with the intention of purchasing a Mixer, I looked around and the ones I found were rather pricey for what I was going to use it for, after some thinking what I did was purchase the following items and placed them together to create my custom volume contol. It works great and gives me complete volume control for under $15.00

Radio Shack 42-2559 $6.59
Radio Shack 274-369 $4.99
Completed device
This is a one-foot cord with an in-line attenuating volume control.
Specialty adapters
Plug your RCA's from the VCR in one end and the other into your capture device input

As always I hope this article has been useful

All of the pictures and information contained within the www.biline.ca website are the property of Jeff Mathurin please do NOT use any of the contents of this website without consent. If you would like to contact me for any reason then feel free to use the contact form by clicking Here