Lib-Ray Non-DRM HD Video Standard Project Launched on Kickstarter

As part of a project to create a non-DRM fixed media standard for high-definition video releases, Terry Hancock has launched a Kickstarter campaign which will produce two Lib-Ray video titles and player software to support them.

“Sita Sings the Blues” is the award-winning, feature-length animation by Question Copyright Artist-in-Residence Nina Paley, released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. This will be a Creator Endorsed release, with a portion of funds going to Nina Paley herself after the minimum needed for the project is raised. This will be a beautiful edition in 1920×1080 HD video with lossless stereo audio, and it will be subtitled in over a dozen languages. This is the first time this film has been available in high-definition, due to Paley’s reluctance to use Blu-Ray with its DRM issues.

The “Blender Foundation Open Movie Collection” will be a single Lib-Ray release containing the three currently-complete Blender Foundation Open Movies: “Elephants Dream”, “Big Buck Bunny”, and “Sintel”. These will be in 1920×1080 HD video with lossless stereo and 5.1 surround soundtracks. These will also have a number of subtitle tracks and commentaries.

Unlike Blu-Ray, Lib-Ray releases do not support DRM, encryption, or region-coding options, and are intended for worldwide release. Thus the standard is designed with a highly-adaptable localization scheme, providing many more subtitles than are typically available on Blu-Ray or DVD regional releases.

The Lib-Ray standard will also incorporate metadata and cover art options to make them easier to cache in retrieval systems — an option intentionally blocked by the design of proprietary standards.

It is hoped that Lib-Ray will become a viable niche standard for free-culture and independent filmmakers to use for wider distribution of their films in high-definition format without the hassle, cost, and ethical issues surrounding proprietary DRM video standards.

Lib-Ray will be physically stored on high-capacity SD cards (SDHC media) which are more expensive than optical disks, but rapidly dropping in price. They are also a read-write medium, which allows for some additional features for producers, including easier short-run production and the possibility of publishing post-release patches (such as for additional subtitle tracks as they become available).

The funds will support the creation of these releases as well as player software to support Lib-Ray playback on computers, including Home Theater PCs. A manual will also be available, containing the full specification and tutorials on creating and using Lib-Ray releases.

Hancock says, “I recently realized that Lib-Ray will not get off the ground without developing player software and that all the pieces needed to create it were already available to me. I have the necessary coding experience for this (it will be written in Python, using the Gstreamer and Webkit library bindings), and so it’s really just a matter of time. It’s too much for me to do in my spare time, but if I can get the support to work on it full time for a short while, I should be able to make it all work smoothly.

“I’m a regular contributor to Free Software Magazine, and I’ve been documenting my progress on previous prototypes in my column there — ever since I discovered the DRM quagmire that is Blu-Ray publishing!