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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ridiculous tech bleg: EDL or playback scripting for DVDs? 

No, seriously. I'm looking for a DVD player (presumably software, but hardware is interesting too) that can take a commercial DVD and a list of time/cut/scene cues for that DVD, and playback your customized cut of that DVD.

Yes, this would exactly be an open version of the ClearPlay concept.

Video editing types will recognize this as a reinvention of the Edit Decision List (EDL).

Nice to have: how about a feature where I could intermingle my own audio and video tracks? So, for example, I could play a "fan commentary" MP3 as the new audio track, or better yet at 100% volume, with the original audio at 30%, reproducing the way actual commentary tracks work? Dynamic and selectable volumes for each track would be perfect, of course.

I'd also like to be able to select in an optional second video track, or maybe even alternate caption/subtitle/video overlay tracks. So, for example, I could cut to a video clip I had created (or maybe just a title card) in the middle of my fan cut of the original DVD.

It looks like a few of the players out there (VLC) are either open or open-API enough for me to do this, and I have a faint hope that Apple's DVD player is scriptable enough to let me do this, but so far I haven't found an off-the-shelf solution.

Why? For the same reason ClearPlay does it, only more: I want to recut DVDs my way. How about the "No Adrian!" recut of Rocky? How about cutting all of the frame narrative grandfather/grandson scenes out of The Princess Bride (the "Gooder Parts" version)? We can finally fix Lost in Translation by removing the dreadful "rip my stocking!" scene, and possibly the confusingly off-note treadmill physical comedy joke (or not; make your own EDL).

The biggest problem I see is movies available in multiple DVD versions. I doubt there's a tidy way to handle that, especially since an edit may call for scenes not available in all versions. Each DVD version will probably require its own EDL, though it may be useful to be able to bundle multiple EDLs with a DVD check so that if one of the supported DVDs in the bundle is in the drive, it switches to the corresponding EDL.

Suggestions welcome.

Update: Apple's DVD Player may well be able to do most of what I want.

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