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What is Ultraviolet? - A Digital Movie Primer

Digital copies are quickly gaining momentum as a preferred method of purchasing and storing personal movie and television collections. The convenience of watching your movies on a mobile device, computer, or television along with often much cheaper prices makes digital very attractive to most. The trade off for the convenience and cost savings is a little extra up front time learning the process and setting up accounts with a couple of providers. If you'll invest in a few minutes to understand how it all works, it may pay off with rewards of free movies! (More on that later). Most of this discussion will focus on the Ultraviolet format as that is the format most movie studios support.

The Ultraviolet Movie Format

Ultraviolet is the name of the digital format developed by a group of major movie studios including Paramount, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, MGM, and Fox. It is quickly gaining market share and appears to be the favored format for these studios.

There are several providers that support this format. Probably the most well known is VUDU. Others include, Flixster, CinemaNow and M-Go. With these providers you will be able access your Ultraviolet collection on your entertainment devices. The nice thing about Ultraviolet is that you have one library that is shared by any provider that supports the format. You're not necessarily tied to a single provider. For example, if you own an Ultraviolet copy of X-Men you can view it through VUDU, Flixster, etc.

All of these providers provide the capability to view your movies through their websites and/or mobile apps. To access an Ultraviolet provider (and your movies) through your television you'll need to either have a Smart TV or have a supported external device connected. Many blu-ray players now come equipped with content provider apps. Or you can use a Playstation 3/4 or Xbox 360/ One. Other options include streaming devices such Roku, Chromecast, and AppleTV.

Setting Up Accounts

To start your collection, you'll need to set up an Ultraviolet account. This is the primary account to which the other providers such as VUDU and Flixster connect in order to access your UV collection. Ultraviolet is sort of the pipeline that feeds content to the VUDU and Flixster type apps. To set up your account visit the Ultraviolet website where you will find instructions on setting up an account.

Next you need to open another account with one or more of the content providers discussed above (VUDU, Target Ticket, etc.). To make things easier, we've included links to these providers are displayed in the left column of this page. Now here is where the free movies come in. Right now VUDU and Flixster each are adding 5 free movies to your Ultraviolet account to entice you to sign into their service. Other providers may have sign up offers as well. (Be sure to check the details and terms on these provider's web sites as their offers may change). If you wish, you can sign up with all of them to take advantage of each promotional offer. The cool thing is that since the new movies are stored in your main Ultraviolet account they are all accessible from any Ultraviolet provider. So you can quickly get your collection started without spending a dime!

Redeeming Codes

Now that your accounts are set up you're ready for the fun part - redeeming movie codes and building your collection.

Once your accounts are set up, redeeming movie codes is pretty simple. Most Blu-rays and DVDs released now include an insert with the redemption codes for a digital copy of the movie or TV series. Simply login to your provider, input the code and the movie is immediately added to your personal digital library.

For example, with VUDU visit www.vudu.com and log in. Find the menu option Services, then click Redeem Ultraviolet Copy. Start typing the movie title. When VUDU finds a match, enter the code and the movie is added. That's it!

All of the providers discussed above have a similar method of redeeming codes. Just find the link on their website and enter the code. Occasionally, a code will need to be redeemed with a particular provider (e.g. VUDU only). If that's the case, typically the store you purchased the code from will indicate so in the movie description.

Other Formats

There are other digital formats that compete with Ultraviolet. iTunes is the biggest and most well known. It's a little less complicated for some because only one account needs to be set up. However, viewing options are more limited because you have to use Apple devices such as Macs, iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. Also, some movies are not offered in the iTunes format. To get started you need to install iTunes on your computer then set up an iTunes account. (If you have an iPhone you have probably already done this). Then visit the iTunes Store from the application and find the Redeem button. For more information check the iTunes website.

Unlike all other studios, Disney has developed their own digital format called Disney Movies Anywhere. Although the format is not directly compatible with Ultraviolet or iTunes, they do have partnerships which allow you watch movies from your Disney collection in iTunes, VUDU, or Google Play. For Disney, you must set up an account on Disney Movies Anywhere and link it to VUDU, iTunes, and/or Google Play. You can also watch Disney movies from the Disney app. Right now, Disney is offering a free digital copy of Wreck it Ralph for signing up and linking to VUDU, iTunes, or Google Play. for more information visit Disney.