How do I get screenshots from DVDs?

A few months ago, I bought the Babylon 5 season 3 box set (and it was good…) At one point, I tried to take a screenshot of a certain scene, by pressing “Print Screen” while pausing it in Windows Media Player. However, when I tried to paste and save the resulting image in Paint, I found that the picture disappeared after I closed and reopened it, leaving a completely black bmp.

I’m guessing that this is the side-effect of piracy prevention, but is there some way around it?

You may find that your DVD player software has a frame capture/snapshot menu option.

Yes, use a DVD Player other than WMP, and you should have a capture function.

…and I don’t think it’s so much an anti-piracy thing as an artifact of the way the application renders graphics to the screen; I think it will be because it’s drawing to a different layer, or something very much like that.

This is correct. A program called Hypersnap DX can capture the ‘overlay’ used to display the video. There may be others now, but at one time it was the only program that would do it.

As for DVD player software, some versions of PowerDVD had a screenshot feature, but it was removed for others. Not sure if this was due to pressure from the MPAA.

      • Usually you can do this, if you do two things. One is go into the OS’s own monitor settings and disable all the hardware accelleration. The second thing is to go into the player software you’re using and disable any hardware or codec accelleration there as well.
  • Your problem is that (on Windows) you have to try other media players–anything but Windows Media Player, because (in order to support DRM functions) it is now designed not to function in this software-only mode. Real and Quicktime still will, if you can play the movie with them.
  • Alternately you can try it after decrypting the DVD: rip the DVD onto your computer with something like DVDDecryptor and then playing the plain vob files in software-only mode in Real, as above. I tried playing some ripped+decrypted .vob files just now and Quicktime wouldn’t do it, but RealPlayer would. Technically this (decrypting) is illegal but I doubt they’ve thrown too many people in jail for making illegal screenshots. And anyway, you’re just “backing-up your legally-purchased media”.

Get Media Player Classic.

Not only is it an excellent media player, it is completely open source and free, and has a very-easy-to-use screen capture function built in.