First it’s the Oscar screening DVDs, and now this odd mechanism: the updated Cap Code – Movie math doesn’t compute with reality
Q. Have you been seeing spots when you go to the movies? It may not be your eyes! More than 20 years ago Kodak devised a system called “Cap Code” designed to uniquely mark film prints so that pirated copies could be traced to the source. Cap Code uses very tiny dots that flash occasionally but are so small that the average viewer almost never notices them.
Well, something new and horrible has been introduced on some studios’ prints. Sort of a giant picture-marring version of Cap Code dots: Very large reddish brown spots that flash in the middle of the picture, usually placed in a light area. They flash in various patterns throughout a given reel while other reels of the same film may have none at all.
A Kodak spokesman who helped devise the original Cap Code says this is not the work of his company but theorizes that it may be intended to be more visible on the murky compressed copies that get posted to the Internet where the original, very subtle Cap Code may be difficult to discern.
On one movie technical forum they are referring to this new system as “Crap Code” or “Cap Code on Steroids.” There are reports coming in of viewers complaining of the spots on the pictures. While theaters strive to keep prints free of dirt and scratches, Hollywood starts sending out prints with built-in marring. Among the films known to be afflicted are “Ali,” “Behind Enemy Lines,” “28 Days Later” “Freddy vs. Jason” and “Underworld,” probably many others as well.
Steve Kraus, Chicago
A. You’re the expert projectionist at our Chicago critics’ screening room, with a fierce love of high-quality film, so I can imagine how upset you are. What’s amusing about Crap Code and the other efforts to catch pirates is that most of the thieves are apparently industry insiders. A recent news story says studios may even be discouraged from distributing advance DVDs of their Oscar contenders to academy members, because some of these movies quickly find their way to the Web.
Slashdot discussion: MPAA Ruins Own Films As Anti-Piracy Measure