So a little while ago I did this rant:

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′.

…It turns out that you can, in fact, do exactly this by making use of the the .m3u playlist format that the media player VLC supports. If you’ve not heard of VLC it’s the go-to open source media player – back in the day its major selling point was that it supported all of the different ways of encoding content, so you could just watch things with VLC rather than spending your time hunting around the internet for the right codex.

Anyway, the point is that instead of complaining that:

I’d pay for a version of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that removed the fridge sequence, the exploding crate, and the monkeys (vastly improving the film while in no way affecting the plot).

I can in fact produce such a thing. Given this DVD:

IMG_3668and this file. You can watch JOE’S MILDLY IMPROVED VERSION OF INDIANA JONES AND THE CRYSTAL SKULL. This version does indeed cut out the whole scene around the fridge (there’s a mild reference in the following dialogue), the horrible CGI in the car chase, and the remarkably silly monkeys. You are, admittedly asked to believe that the jungle car chase went around in a bit of a circle (given the ravine, this isn’t too bad) so that Mutt can randomly swing back in – and you are also asked to believe that monkeys just dislike the bad girl (it’s canon that ants attack her so…). I’d like to point out that these are pretty minor things to accept compared to the rest of the story!

Ahem. While we are here, we can look though the how in a bit more detail using a slightly simpler case. For your interest I did a similar playlist for people who own the Aladdin DVD but just want to watch the songs.

So here’s the DVD I used:

IMG_3519I’m aware Frozen would have got many more blog hits. But Aladdin is the one I grew up with so we are doing Aladdin!

The file to download is here – but we can also look at it properly.

#EXTINF:9000,Arabian Nights
#EXTINF:9000,One Jump Ahead
#EXTINF:9000,Friend Like Me
#EXTINF:9000,Prince Ali
#EXTINF:9000,A whole new world

Some things should be obvious – like the start and stop times of each scene. There are in seconds rather than minutes and seconds so you have to do a little maths. Also the #EXTINFO let’s you put in a chapter title, which was worthwhile for the songs. Less obviously is choosing the protocol – dvdread works for me, but only after trying a bunch of alternatives. The most difficult thing was generally locating the track on the disk - I suspect if you have a different DVD it would be a different track so you might want to alter ‘rdisk1#10′.

I’m going to look into using this technique to remove the scary bits from films so that younger children then enjoy the non-scary bits but I’m planning on treading very carefully. In the meantime if you use this technique to put together your own edits I’m happy to host them for you until we build up enough for a bit of a library. Or if you’ve got any special requests I’ll see what I can put together at this end.



  1. Kevin R
    December 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm (edit)

    There was a company called Cleanflix that started doing that several years ago. They would edit movies into a more family friendly format. They got sued out of existence after the US courts ruled that the Studios for copyright violation

    1. Edman
      December 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm (edit)

      The difference there, Kevin, was that Utah-based, Mormon-owned Cleanflix was editing them and then *selling* the edited versions. Studios do stuff like this all the time – TV versions, airline versions, etc. But Cleanflix did the editing itself and then SOLD the edited property. That was the rub.

      Of course, it was funny that their entire business revolved around removing six seconds of boobie from a movie where a fictionalized representation of 1,500 real people died horrifying and sometimes graphic deaths (Propeller man!). I am, of course, referring to Titanic. And it was James Cameron himself who said “No f%^$king way, Mormons… That’s MY movie, not yours.”

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