Thursday, February 7, 2013

Windows 8: VLC Blu-Ray playback

Background

When I first purchased my Sony laptop, it came with PowerDVD or something similar installed in Win7 allowing Blu-Ray playback.  Any time I travel, I always take this laptop so I can play my Blu-Rays for shows not available through streaming methods.  When I upgraded to Windows 8, Sony doesn't offer the Blu-Ray playback software in the list of software available for download for my laptop model, so I basically lost my ability to play Blu-Rays.

I've used VLC before, and it's a great open-source, multi-platform video player.  I encourage everyone to check it out if you haven't had the privilege to use it.  Since it was free, I installed it and tried to play a Blu-Ray - no luck.  I used the 32-bit version, which is the default download version for Windows.  When I inserted the disc, I just pointed VLC to my disc drive and clicked "Play."  Since that didn't work, I opened the menu: Media > Open Disc, and on the Disc tab I selected BluRay and tried to play it.  Still no luck, but this time I received a more informative error, which was that VLC was missing libaacs.

The Fix
I Googled how to add libaacs capability to VLC, and came across an older guide.  Here's my specific steps:

  1. Install VLC
  2. Visit http://vlc-aacs.whoknowsmy.name/
  3. Copy the libaacs.dll to the root VLC installation directory:
    • C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC (x64)
    • C:\Program Files (x86)\VideoLAN\VLC (x86)
  4. Open your appdata folder
    • Start > Run (or Windows key + R)
    • Type %appdata%; on Windows 8 the qualified path is: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\
    • Look for an aacs folder, and if there isn't one, create it
    • Inside the aacs folder place the KEYDB.cfg file
  5. Insert a Blu-Ray disc, open VLC, and try to play it.
Once I completed that process, I can play Blu-Ray discs again!  Hope it works for you.  Feel free to leave feedback if your steps differed from mine.

P.S. alternatively, you could just fork over the $50 to $100 for a Blu-Ray playback software suite and save yourself the time/trouble.