Bigpond Movies and Windows Media Centre

I mentioned in my last post that the BigpondMovies downloads can be viewed with any WMV+DRM-capable viewer, but it turns out there’s a caveat too, especially when used with Media Centre (Media Center for our friends from the US).

What I did:
I thought it’d be a good idea to add the Bigpond Movies download folder to the My Videos area of MCE. The “Purchased” folder under My Videos now contains all the downloads that cost me anything.

It’s not an ideal solution: you don’t see the movie title as the filename (just a five-digit number for each in my case), but the Video Info reported the title properly, and the license restrictions.

What happened:
xXx didn’t generate a thumbnail through MCE, but played fine. I watched it on the same day I added the folder to the MCE view, so I could watch it through MCE… and it worked just like the other MCE videos do (except a little slower to fast-forward and rewind, probably due to the Windows Media DRM overhead).
Kung Fu Hustle did manage to somehow get a thumbnail created, but when I went to watch it two days later, it didn’t play, and MCE dutifully reported that the license had expired the day before. I hadn’t (knowingly) played it…

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Me too. For those that aren’t, here’s what I think happened:
Somehow, MCE managed to open Kung Fu Hustle to decode enough to build the thumbnail. But… the problem with that is that it counts against the “you just watched this movie” license granted by Bigpond, so the automatic act of getting a thumbnail from the file starts the “you have 24 hours to watch this movie” timer.

I’m not upset, because a) I was doing something that probably wasn’t tested anyway, and b) my budget for just trying it out was $10, and I got arguably $5 value from xXx (artistic merit aside), so it was a worthwhile test run. If I’d used the Download Manager program to launch it (presumably in Windows Media Player), I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the same problem.

But a word to the crazy, ambitious and wicked: if you’re going to hook up the downloads folder to MCE2005, don’t open the folder until you’re ready to watch everything in it!

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