My Disc-to-Digital Experience
First, a little history: Today (4/16/12), Walmart launched a new Disc-to-Digital service for getting your movies into the cloud for streaming. In other words: you can now turn your physical movie library into a digital one. This is all done through Walmart’s Vudu service. For those of you who don’t know, Vudu is a place you can buy and rent digital movies which you stream on your internet enabled devices (iPhones, iPads, PS3s, X-Box 360s, computers, app enabled HDTVs, and many newer Bluray players are supported). Think of it as a pay-as-you-go Netflix since there is no fee to have an account, but without the discs in the mail, and with a larger selection of HD titles. You can also think of it as a different kind of iTunes, but again with a larger HD selection. The quality of Vudu’s service is outstanding, and I’ve been using it for about a year now.
The neat thing that happened today is that Walmart/Vudu joined the Ultraviolet consortium. Ultraviolet is a relatively new alliance between movie studios and streaming services, which allow you to document your qualifying movie purchases in a way that allows you to stream through any of the participating providers. Until today, Flixter was the only provider signed on to stream the movies. The drawback to Flixter is that it isn’t available for playback on some devices (like the PS3), and it only does SD, leaving HD in the cold. But now that Vudu is onboard, Ultraviolet gains a way to provide viewers with an HD (called HDX on Vudu) experience that is available on pretty much any device they’d want to watch it from. The kicker is that unlike Flixter (or ANY streaming service before it), Vudu can let you get your existing movies that are on disc, put into the Vudu library.
Back to the Present: So after staying up all night (and morning) reading anything I could about the launch and how to redeem my discs (and seeing them update the Vudu site in phases live), I took a nap, got up, and found some time to travel to Tifton to walk through the process myself. Oddly, on the first calls, neither Tifton nor Cordele Walmarts seemed to know anything about the new service. Never taking no for an answer, I decided to call back the Tifton one (which was going to be near my planned trips for the day) and try my luck with a manager rather than a standard employee. I was put in touch with Heather, who really turned my day around for the better! She knew what I was talking about, and said that there was some software update that needed to be done on the photo lab machine in order to process the conversion details. She said she would see to it and give me a call back. An hour or so later I got her call, and I boogied over there (admittedly, I was in Tifton at that point eating dinner to allow the best chance of letting all this happen).
This visit was prefaced with the knowledge that I was the first person to do this at their store, so I was the guinea pig. I’m kind of getting used to pushing technological boundaries, so this was not a problem to me at all. Heather and her staff stepped through their instructions (with a little help from yours truly since I was already familiar with the whole process from my research), and we ended up getting 44 of my movies into the digital realm of Vudu. Some were DVDs, some were Blurays, some could be turned into HDX, and some stayed in SD. Having gone through the whole system, here is my advice for you when you decide to do it too:
- Everything works better if you do as much as you can from home first!
- Go to uvvu.com and setup your free Ultraviolet account (if you already have one, log in to make sure you remember your credentials and that everything is still ok).
- Go to Vudu.com and setup your free Vudu account (if you already have one, log in).
- While still at Vudu.com, click ‘My Account’ > ‘Ultraviolet Info’ and then link you account to your Ultraviolet account.
- Now click the ‘Disc to Digital’ tab to make a conversion queue list.
- Search for your movies (paying close attention to whether it’s Bluray or not).
- Add titles to the list one-by-one, selecting ‘Add HD to List’ when it’s available if that’s what you want (Blurays will just say ‘Add to List’ since they are already HD, the same goes for DVDs that can not be upconverted from SD).
- Once you’ve added all the titles you want, click ‘Print List’.
- Time to gather everything (discs and printed list) and go to Walmart!
- Go to the 1-Hour Photo Lab (not the self-serve kiosks).
- Hand the tech your printed list and discs.
- They may ask you to fill out a form with your email and phone number, use whatever is on the printed list.
- They’ll match each disc to your Vudu conversion queue, authorize the conversion, stamp the back of the inside ring on the discs with ‘Walmart Entertainment’, and ask for payment.
- You’ll get a confirmation email within the next 15 minutes.
- Verify EVERYTHING before you leave the lab! Now that your discs are marked, if something wasn’t done correctly, you are going to have a hard time fixing it once you leave.
That’s it, you’re done! Go home (or wherever) and enjoy your movies by streaming them through Vudu. You can choose to put the discs up for storage, sell them to someone who doesn’t do streaming, or actually decide to still use them, the choice is yours.
- If the phone number doesn’t work, make sure you are telling them the one on the printed list, it’s the only one that will work.
- Don’t get accused of shoplifting! Put all your stuff in a bag and make sure to hold it so the cameras can see it at all time. Also, don’t stand close to product displays, especially the movie racks/bins. Now that there are now bag checkers, there’s really no way to document you owned the movies prior to going in, so make it obvious starting at the front door.
- Techs may miss titles or click the wrong buttons. If you have a smartphone, wait to get the confirmation email before leaving. Make sure everything is alright before you leave the desk.
- Not all Walmarts know what to do this early on. Call first. If the tech doesn’t know about it, ask for a manager. Or go to the Tifton Walmart, they know what to do!