Hey Dave, I’ve been using Bittorrent to grab some new movies and am completely baffled by the cryptic naming conventions. Can you please explain what TS, XVID, HDRIP and X264 mean?
This is an interesting question because a lot of people use the bittorrent network, some for legit uses (fast downloads of Linux distributions, for example) and others for, well, less legal uses as they bypass copyright and distribution limits by grabbing the latest cinematic blockbuster or DVD in digital form. You should definitely be mindful that pirating movies, music CDs and other copyrighted content by grabbing a free download is not just illegal but also prevents the artists and other creative professionals from earning their fair wage through product sales.
Nonetheless, because there are legit uses too, let’s have a look at the primary acronyms used in torrent naming to help you understand what’s actually in the download. Just use this information appropriately, okay?
To start, a quick visit to The Pirate Bay shows exactly what we’re talking about:
The movie name’s easy, but what are all the other codes? Let’s break down the first one to get started. The first entry is for the movie Doctor Strange, released in 2016, and it’s a high-def (HD) telesync (TS) copy. The x264 is what’s known as a video codec, a way that the data’s been compressed to make it smaller, it’s based on the H.265 commercial codec used with commercial DVD and Blu-Ray disks. Finally, AC3 is an audio encoding that supports multiple channels (meaning it won’t be mono, with the same audio coming out of all your speakers) and CPG? That’s the handle of the person who encoded this particular movie.
We haven’t even talked about what telesync means: It’s a copy of a film where the video has been recorded with a webcam, while the audio has been “jacked in” or recorded directly off the projector. My belief is that these are generally recorded by projectionists or others working at a movie theater because of the required access to the audio source.
The next movie, Max Steel has less acronyms, but it’s going to be lower quality too: “HC” means that there are hardcoded subtitles (typically Chinese or Korean to reflect where it was screened) and “HDCAM” means that someone smuggled an HD video camera into the actual movie theater and secretly taped what was being projected onto the screen. If you think “that’s not going to make a particularly viewable copy” you’re right. It’s also why theaters have employees walk thru on the latest releases, to try and spot someone doing just this. No bueno, for sure.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them you can now decipher; it’s an HD quality telesync encoded with the x.264 codec, and the stream was created by “CPG”.
Finally, the fourth movie on this list, The Light Between Oceans, is an HDRIP, which means that it’s a high definition copy from an online source, typically Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Streaming Video or similar, encapsulated in XVID format with AC3 audio. XVID is an older video codec that’s been replaced by x.264 in the industry, but still commonly shows up in torrents, probably because many of them are created overseas. An HDRIP is going to be better than a CAM or HDCAM (because a video camera recording a movie screen is always going to be pretty poor), though the best quality is a DVDRIP or BRRIP, representing a copy made directly from a DVD or Blu-Ray disk.
Other acronyms you can see include DVDSCR which is a DVD screener disk sent out to movie critics and others in the industry, they’re intended just for review purposes and the studio not only tracks individual disks with secret encoding systems, but asks reviewers to destroy the disk once viewed. A typical warning on these original source disks looks like this:
When these are available through a torrent network, they’ll include overlays from the movie studio and some torrents blur that portion of the screen out.
If you’re looking at audio content, AAC is another audio encoding scheme that Apple uses with its music, and is an alternative to the far more popular MP3 format.
In ebooks, the common encodings are EPUB, MOB and PDF, with EPUB the most popular. MOBI is the standard for Amazon Kindle readers and devices, however, so that’s also quite popular and PDF is a standard “portable document format” that often appears. What works best for you is dependent on what software or hardware you’re going to use to read the content.
There are other acronyms and encodings to describe the different types of bittorrent and torrent data streams available. You can Google ’em if you find one that you don’t know, and please, be mindful when you’re grabbing data streams that it’s likely you’re doing something illegal and should likely find an alternative way of enjoying that book, movie or song.