Fan editing of films using macros
August 2, 2004 5:01 PM   Subscribe

You know that fan-edit of the Phantom Menace without Jar-Jar? Well, I was thinking...

What about a fan edit of Back to the Future II without the "Nobody calls me chicken!" crap. I was oblivious to the other weak points of the movie when I saw it as a kid, but even I hated that shit. But wait!

It's illegal to distribute an unauthorized version of a movie. But what about distributing some sort of program (set of macros for a program?) that edits the copy of the movie someone already has on their computer? Is this even possible? If not, how many years until it is?
posted by Tlogmer to Media & Arts (13 answers total)
This is done all the time with those DVD players that play "family-safe" versions of movies--the machines use a modem to update a local database of DVDs, with a list of the times to skip for each title. When you play the DVD, it automatically cuts out the "forbidden" portions.

As I recall, they claimed to use the same end run around copyright laws that you mention, but I'm pretty sure they were still being challenged by the studios.

I think the NYT or somebody did a story on this a while ago--they found that it was pretty lame. Most swear words still got through, and they seemed to have no problem with extended violence. They mostly excised longer sex scenes, and material that would offend right-wing values, like homosexuality, etc. You're right in assuming that it's pretty straightforward, technically, though.
posted by LairBob at 5:07 PM on August 2, 2004

Actually, if you just Google on "dvd family censor", you can bring up a ton of info on it--the company's actually called "ClearPlay", and there are definitely lawsuits coming from Hollywood. (Just don't click on the "AVN" link that comes up in the results pop-up spawn hell.)
posted by LairBob at 5:17 PM on August 2, 2004

I find this to be pretty relevant, since Star Wars episodes IV-VI are coming out on DVD later this fall, and Lucas has already admitted he has no plans to release the original versions, ever.

I have access to a DV editing station, it'd be nice to re-edit them for myself so I can enjoy as close to the originals as I can (including trying to scrub that "Greedo shoots first" bullshit).
posted by rocketman at 6:06 PM on August 2, 2004

Assuming that you buy the DVD itself separately, this would probably fall under Galoob v. Nintendo. In order for a derivative work to exist, thus laying the groundwork for infringement, the secondary work must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
posted by PrinceValium at 6:21 PM on August 2, 2004

does anyone have an (a?) url for the phanmenace - jar jar? I can't find it with my inferior p2p skills.
posted by jmgorman at 6:48 PM on August 2, 2004

I don't know what you can do about this. The "chicken" stuff bugs me, too since it's not an established character-flaw in the first movie.

However, it's pretty much not removable since it's in there in the first place because it's a poor excuse for plot movement. Without it, many things in the second and third movies would not happen. That's bad writing, and you can't just cut it out without explaining it.

Maybe you could make your own edits? I don't really think it's possible, since so many of the plot-points that happen because of it are due to the fact that without the "chicken" parts, the story wouldn't have moved forward.
posted by interrobang at 9:38 PM on August 2, 2004

rocketman: No need to re-edit. I'm certain that the original versions (once out on laserdiscs) will be available in some form or another.

My personal fantasy is to edit the Matrix sequels into one film which doesn't suck quite so much. If you cut out all the suck, you might have a full movie left.

Of course I can't do it now that I've written this... Or maybe I can? How did Basic Instinct end?
posted by ODiV at 9:42 PM on August 2, 2004

jmgorman: I found one here. It's known as "The Phantom Edit".
posted by O9scar at 11:53 PM on August 2, 2004

Response by poster: interrobang -- maybe cut the chicken stuff and then use judiciously chosen snips of dialogue from other Michael J. Fox movies on top of cuts when he's not in the frame? It's a challenge, but I'm sure it can be done.
posted by Tlogmer at 1:34 AM on August 3, 2004

How did Basic Instinct end?

posted by yerfatma at 6:23 AM on August 3, 2004

There's a dvd controller that's scriptable somewhere on Sourceforge, in early development. It would work for this. Also, check out software called "MovieMask" which is a commercial version of the same thing. Report back.
posted by mecran01 at 7:00 AM on August 3, 2004

You're right about the "chicken" subplot. The Marty McFly who covered "The Power of Love" at the high school talent audition was not afraid of being called a chicken.
posted by inksyndicate at 12:03 PM on August 3, 2004

Huey Lewis, man ...good times.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:55 PM on August 3, 2004

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