A mild consumer rant on DVDs and editing

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We don’t have to do this any more…

Something that I’ve never quite understood since the advert of DVDs is why I can watch the deleted scenes as separate sections, but I can’t switch on the setting that says ‘include these scenes in the main film when I watch it’.

In a similar way, when watch a boxed set if DVDs, I don’t understand why I have to watch 60 seconds of ‘previously on’ when I’ve just watched all of the previous footage.

More to the point, I like the film Iron Man and my god-nephew likes, reasonably enough, the cartoon Iron Man. I can’t watch the film with him because it’s not age appropriate, which is odd, because it would be pretty simple for the distributors (the classification board really) to mark out the ‘over 13’ bits and have a setting on the DVD where I could enjoy a (15 minute shorter) film which my god-nephew. It’s not like the technology is an any way complicated, it’s a small file that says ‘play 0:00-43:12 of this file and then cut to 43:43’.

The reason is because the people defining the original DVD format didn’t anticipate the need – the technology was framed as replacing the video cassette, rather than competing with the PC – so the tiny amount of functionality they do have (select chapter, change audio, add subtitles) where considered a massive boon (I’m not saying they weren’t, particular for people with disabilities, but the standard didn’t go far enought.

What continues to mystify me is that it’s still extremely difficult to get this functionality, even if you are willing to put in the timings yourself. It astonishes me that pirate and torrent sites aren’t all over this. I’m amazed that VLC doesn’t let you load a set of snippets and play then back.

It’s not like there isn’t a wonderful range of demand – I’d pay for a version of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skullthat removed the fridge sequence, the exploding crate, and the monkeys (vastly improving the film while in no way affecting the plot).

I’d also love, love to watch the Back to the Future Trilogy in true chronological order- starting with the Wild West scenes, moving smoothly to 1955, combining all of the dance night scenes from the first two movies, arrive us at a range of normally bookending 1985 scenes and finishes us in the (alternate) future. I think that would be a splendid new way to appreciate the trilogy. I’d like to watch attack of the clones with less of the romance, choose only the stories I like from Love Actually. Drop boring characters from Game of Thrones. I’d like to be able to switch off sound in space (I’m not sure I would do it, but I’d like the option)…. and *mainly* what I want is a guarantee that I can watch a TV series on the train without blushing.

Of course, this is the open source project that I should be taking a punt at. It’s actually a pretty nice project because it’s quite so technically simple. The main thing that’s astonishing is not that the Manufacturers haven’t made it happen, but that the pirate community aren’t all of it. But there are open source things I’d like to do first so this might have to remain a rant for now.

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