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Show HN: Watch movies with the freedom to filter (github.com)
125 points by marco1 on Mar 24, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 143 comments



Somehow this makes me really uncomfortable. I know it seems very reasonable, inviting people to choose what they want to censor for themselves... but it just feels wrong. I'd much rather someone didn't watch my film at all than watch a butchered version. As a separate point, I think it's often more traumatic/damaging to cut away from a scene just as it's getting distressing, and then cut back after the bad thing has happened. I often had this kind of viewing experience imposed on me as a child, and I honestly think it screwed me up a little, sitting there speculating about whatever I'm missing, and generally being taught that when things are getting unpleasant you just skip that part. Not a good attitude for life. It's true there are films that are inappropriate for a young kid, but in that case, choose a different film.


I don't understand that. Using a chef reference I made below, if you cooked a nice dinner, but someone didn't like the brussel sprouts, should they not have eaten anything and skipped your dinner party? If you listen to some of The Donald's speech, should you not be allowed to skip some of it? Why is art all-or-nothing?


Those are very good counter examples. I wouldn't want someone to miss a whole dinner because they don't like sprouts :) I still feel like there's a difference though... At least the person can see the sprouts, they have the option, the chef can say "Ah go on, try some, they've got little bits of pancetta in them!" and maybe they try one, and maybe they realise sprouts are great! Or maybe they don't, but at least they considered it. Compare that to (bare with me) someone wearing magic AR goggles that somehow bleep out any mention of sprouts, and automatically pre-warn the chef to not put any sprouts on their plate and not to mention them. Absurdity aside, I think there's something insidious about people setting up automated filter bubbles for themselves and their children


> filter bubbles for themselves and their children

We do that all the time. I don't let my kids watch some content because of their age. I filter their activities (don't let them drive until they're able). I try to filter what they eat (less junk food), and their waking hours (try to get them to go to bed). This is no different. It's all cost/benefit, and if some people think some content of any sort is not appropriate for them and their families, fine. But why not allow them the 95% of the content that they like? What if Netflix said you only got to watch a series if you guaranteed you'd watch every episode? The idea is preposterous.


  The idea is preposterous.
...and not what I suggested. It feels like you didn't read my comment at all.

We are talking about automated content filtering. This is all we are talking about. Not whether it's OK to stop watching a film you're not enjoying (of course it is), not 'rules in general' like driving regulations and bedtime. Just automated content filtering.


You may have misunderstood the project. There is nothing "automatic" in its filtering at all. You do have to adjust the filters precisely, manually, and can switch on or off every single feature.


I feel that we don't have to resolve this issue by taking an even closer look at this analogy. We can instead focus on the pragmatic answers to your original question.


I consider both of those bad examples; in the first case, adults shouldn't be so picky. In the second, no, you shouldn't skip part of a candidate's speech, as you would then not be an informed voter.


Thank you very much!

I do also think that these two examples are not the best examplse we could come up with. And in no way do they demonstrate why the complete project should be useless for every use case.

The only thing that they show (correctly, I have to say), is that there are some sources where filters and cuts can be harmful.


Looking at a political speech... just skipping to some of it is an abhorrent idea. That's how you lose context and likely meaning to words.

Without condoning or condemning Trump's speeches, skipping to just parts can radically change your impression of the man and his policies.

This is a problem journalism faces when covering events. They try to edit down to the meaningful parts while retaining the meaning of the whole. I can't imagine that filtering out certain triggering phrases/words would allow you paint a fair picture of him or his policies.


You're saying the inverse of the OP's solution. He'd skip over 5%. You're arguing it's not OK to skip over 95%. Skipping 5% of a political speech would probably not be bad, especially if you knew before hand what you specifically didn't want to hear (because you knew what was going to be said). Maybe I've made up my mind on the war on Iraq and I just do not want to hear any more about it. If I don't care about a candidate's position on whether it was right or wrong, don't I have a right to skip that part of their speech?


Why can't it just be fun? Here's Trump voiced in an East London accent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cA0NM5RAY0


Nobody says you should apply this to political speeches, or sources where the context can be lost due to the cutting in general.


It's all very subjective. For example, most of Top Gun is perfectly suitable for a 5 year old...except some of the swearing and the sex. Sure I can find something else to watch with my son (and I do) but I'm not asking for anything more than the version they'd show on NBC.

I'm sure some people may have different uses in mind but that's their business.


Fair enough, that's an example that wouldn't worry me one bit.

You're right it's other people's business, I'm not saying this kind of tool should be banned! I'm just voicing a concern that it might be unhealthy for people to set up automatic filters for stuff they find offensive, across all their film and TV. I think people should be offended sometimes. Not that anyone should try to offend people for the sake of it, but I think occasionally seeing stuff that challenges your sensibilities (in the context of good literature, ideally) probably helps people to be more tolerant and less reactionary.


> I'm just voicing a concern that it might be unhealthy for people to set up automatic filters for stuff they find offensive, across all their film and TV.

And this has never been the intention or intended use case of this tool. So I guess we've figured out the misunderstanding.


> most of Top Gun is perfectly suitable for a 5 year old...except some of the swearing and the sex

It's fascinating to consider the cultural differences that make sex the thing most unacceptable in a movie largely concerned with gigantic flying death machines.

And I'm not saying jets are not awesomely cool, they are indeed... But is the movie significantly different from an air force/navy recruiting advertisement?


It's the media equivalent of adblockers, greasemonkey scripts or custom css: the realization that digital content can be manipulated client-side. Nothing wrong with that.


Exactly :) Thank you!

And, in addition to that, not only can content be filtered, but it is filtered for you all the time already. This is a chance to take the filtering away from the producers and choose what you want to see yourself. Don't let others decide. Because that is real censorship.


Uncomfortable? Definitely not, I'd say. Your judgement may be too harsh because it tries to focus on quite abstract aspects. What about a practical example instead?

There are quite a few (historic) films that I like very much. I'd love to show those to my younger sister or brother. But that one scene where somebody has their throat cut -- there's no way I can show that. But without that scene, it makes a great movie, even for younger audiences.

Moreover, your criticism states that skipping things is always bad. That's not true, of course. In practice, you can make good cuts and bad cuts. And to achieve good results, one has to make reasonable cuts that preserve all the important parts and don't hurt the film. If this is done, it can be a wonderful experience.


I agree with you there's nothing wrong with cutting out a violent bit of a film so you can share it with your younger sister. I think what I'm uncomfortable with is the idea of set-it-and-forget-it automated filtering. Not censorship in general.

  Moreover, your criticism states that skipping things is always bad.
I definitely never said that.


> I think what I'm uncomfortable with is the idea of set-it-and-forget-it automated filtering.

You see, this is not the point of this project and has never been intended or supported in any way.

> I definitely never said that.

What about this?

> I know it seems very reasonable, inviting people to choose what they want to censor for themselves... but it just feels wrong. I'd much rather someone didn't watch my film at all than watch a butchered version. [...] Not a good attitude for life.


I agree. I am uncomfortable at the idea that people feel compelled to sanitize their realities so they only see the narratives they want to see.

Social media already makes this far too easy.

For art, this can make a movie have a very different meaning. Violence and sexuality can be very critical to the message of a movie, and editing it to make it mean something else just feels disingenuous to the original art.

This is like people covering statues of naked people because they're uncomfortable around nudity.

Still, I think individuals have a right to do this, whether for themselves or for their kids. I just view it like people's right to smoke cigarettes or go tanning. This is an inherently dangerous approach to life.


Wow, I feel your approach, just like the parent's one, is way too focused on moral, ethical and abstract concepts in general.

This project doesn't try to create a huge filter bubble and introduce a dangerous approach to education and life.

No, it's just a simple utility to help you make some simple cuts so that you can enjoy the movie without watching the few scenes that were inserted for shock value.


As soon as I saw this tool I predicted this kind of response. The idea is not just in the parent post but echoed throughout these comments. That is, nothing should be filtered. This is the prevailing sentiment in our culture with regards to entertainment. And frankly I'm tired of the hypocrisy. We see on the one hand movements to protect and empower women. On the other hand exploitation is loudly defended. I agree with the parent: skip these films. I'm happy this tool exists but I'd rather not give any kind of support to those who demoralize women.


Well, personally, I didn't predict that kind of response. So let's try to resolve the misunderstandings.

> I'd rather not give any kind of support to those who demoralize women.

This is not what this tool is about.

Movies are filtered already. Not always, of course. But depending on where you watch them, they are. Stop others from censoring the movies for you. Get the full uncensored version and decide yourself what you want to see.

This is not more filtering, but less filtering, usually.


I think I understand the intent. I was responding to the parent's idea that we should simply not watch movies with questionable content. I agree with that but also am glad this tool exists. I'm not sure under what circumstances it would be used for less filtering. Are you suggesting movie studios release uncut films and let the audience pick the rating? That's a novel idea.


> Are you suggesting movie studios release uncut films and let the audience pick the rating?

Yes, that was the intent, actually. It's also included in the repository's documentation. But I see that it has been poorly communicated.


I think the only way to reasonably expect people to not do whatever they please with content that you create is to never release the content.


This is another reason I had forgotten about in favor of this project: information transgesses boundaries, and whether people like it or not, it will be modified, and it is wrong to attempt to subvert that capability. I still think it's wrong to cripple oneself by limiting ones exposure to things that may make one uncomfortable, but it should be a right to choose what we view.


I don't really see much of a distinction between choosing which media you view (which everyone necessarily does) and choosing which parts of a particular work you view.


It's about how media is perceived; if I try to have a conversation with you, but ignore you saying words I don't like, it changes the meaning of our conversation, and one could argue we haven't really had a conversation at all.


I dislike that the filters are strictly defined. What if I wanted to create a category for 'rape' or 'animal-cruelty'? I should be able to add those notes, and have them be silently ignored by unsupporting clients. Even better though, I don't see why the client wouldn't include those new categories in what can be filtered for this specific clip.

Edit: Also, it seems like the severity levels (low/medium/high) are arbitrary, meaning they will vary from film to film. It might make more sense to give categories sub-categories or tags. So for swear words, it would have the sub-categories of all the various words which might be used. For violence, it might have the tags of ('simulated', 'on screen', 'bloody'), etc. That way the viewer could decide what they want to see, and it would be somewhat consistent.


Regarding the category-specific severity levels (instead of "low", "medium" and "high):

The three levels currently used are definitely not completely arbitrary. I'm sure we all can tell mild violence and really severe levels of violence apart. But I definitely see your point, nonetheless.

For "nudity", the different levels of "bare buttocks" versus "full (frontal) nudity" come to mind, for example. This caught be implemented in custom severity levels, of course.

But the major advantage of the three general levels is that the higher ones include the lower ones. That makes things as easy as choosing one severity level for each category.

If, for "nudity", you have the two levels suggested above (and potentially dozens of other levels), you have to provide a check box for every single level or "sub-category". That's far more complex, both from a consumer UX perspective and from the tagger experience.


Thanks for your feedback!

At present, the list of available categories and filters has been kept short to ensure simplicity.

We might think about allowing any custom categories, as you suggested. So we should definitely keep that idea in mind.

But let's assume you added "rape" as a category (which we thougth about as well): Then when do you add "rape" versus the existing "violence", "sex" or "nudity"? Do you have to add them all for most rape scenes? On the other hand, what do the consumers do? Do they have to tick dozens of boxes to ensure that no unwanted scenes are shown?

The more categories you add, the more blurred do the boundaries become.


I expect that enabling custom categories could lead to this being useful in ways that you'd never expect. For example, people with misophonia HATE the sound of people chewing loudly. It's not uncommon (the misophonia subreddit has 8,000 subscribers). I'd love to use your filter to mute the audio (and simultaneously turn on the subtitles, if possible) when there are misophonia triggers in movies. People with misophonia are already interested in movie warnings for this (e.g. the subreddit had several high profile warnings about the triggers in The Martian).

If misophonia is a possible useful application of custom categories, there might be many others.


Very good example, thank you!

So these small communities could really profit from such an open format, in case custom categories were added.

They will certainly not get this with the commercial providers of movie filtering.


> The more categories you add, the more blurred do the boundaries become.

I think that's kind of the point. There isn't a single coherent dependency for all cultures for all content.

To have a simplified single set is to place one (semi arbitrary) value system over another.

You could study the correlations and common concurrent uses, and maybe provide common suggestions, like Amazon does. But again, boundaries and weirdness.


But this is software that is intended to actually be used by humans. It would be a far worse user experience to prohibit the "sex" category but then be shown a rape scene because someone added "rape" as a custom category.

This concept really doesn't work without standardized categories. Of course, you could argue that more granularity should be added to the categories, and I don't necessarily disagree. You could even have a directed graph of categories, so that (for instance) "rape" could be a descendant of both "violence" and "sex" and thus rape scenes would be banned if the user banned either violence or sex.


Thanks for these interesting suggestions for implementation!

The only downside I could think of is that things could get a bit untransparent with such complex graphs. People could think: "Why did I miss this scene? I haven't even enabled that particular filter."


> There isn't a single coherent dependency for all cultures for all content.

Really an important point. Thanks!


Having this sort of control seems to be the only way for something like this to be useful across a wide range of audiences. My wife will watch people being murdered and maimed in the most horrifying of manners, but the second an animal comes to harm she'll get up and walk out of the room (and then blame me for making her watch it).

"Violence" doesn't cover her specific use case, so without the ability to narrow that to "animal cruelty", it wouldn't address our own requirements.


Thanks, that's definitely a valid concern! You're both right in that we should perhaps change the severity schema to category-specific keywords instead of general levels.


Tags work best! Like on SO


Why not multiple tags then? Rape is a specific instance of both sex and violence (and potentially includes nudity). If someone wanted all violence and/or sex filtered out then rape would be as well. But if they had no issue with violence in general, or sex in general, but specifically an issue with rape, then they could go to that level of specificity.


Two feature requests:

1) Add a "product placement" category.

2) Add support for a custom mask instead of just blanking out video/audio. This way, I can see that the character is drinking a delicious soda, but I don't need to know the exact kind.


Thank you! Regarding (1), we should definitely add this. Regarding (2), there are two reasons why this might not be a good idea: First, it would be hard to tag. Second, it's not supported by the three formats that the project currently "transpiles" to.


> Then when do you add "rape" versus the existing "violence", "sex" or "nudity"? Do you have to add them all for most rape scenes?

Rape is sex without consent, big difference between that and violent (consensual) sex.

"rape" might also include some frat boys joking about rape, which might really upset a rape victim watching it.


> Rape is sex without consent, big difference between that and violent (consensual) sex.

We don't have to discuss this. Everybody should know this and agree.

But the point was that rape scenes often include sex or nudity. So if you tagged a scene 'rape', you would often have to add the other related tags as well. This is because somebody might have banned 'nudity' only.


> We don't have to discuss this. Everybody should know this and agree.

The comment I was replying to, implied that you could just have violence+sex+nudity categories instead:

when do you add "rape" versus the existing "violence", "sex" or "nudity"?


Isn't the latter more metarape than rape?


A "rape" category doesn't have to include scenes of the act. Someone who doesn't want to see anything to do with rape, would not want to hear rape jokes.


It might make sense to add a (textual) description of the severity levels to the format. Then, the viewer can check that description to decide what level they are comfortable with.

The obvious drawback of that approach (shared with tags) is that the description needs to be in some language. This clearly hurts internationalization efforts.


Thanks! Thought about that, too. Some example:

nudity/low: bare buttocks

nudity/high: full (frontal) nudity

But this is harder (maybe even impossible) in other categories. What if somebody sees "throat cut" as a "high" level of violence and a killed animal as "low" level, while someone else sees it the other way round?


Aside from filtering based on moral/taste/etc grounds, I've often thought it would be interesting to filter for the sake of time. Could you conceivably trim a 3hr movie down to 90 minutes and have it still make sense? It would be an interesting experiment.


I have often wanted something like this for the 1+ hour historical shows on the likes of PBS and The History Channel. I've found that the shows repeat a lot of things before and after commercial breaks that I don't need to hear again. I enjoy the topics, but my impatience combined with the editing drives me away from watching the shows.

I think the main hurdle would be actually doing the editing because of how time consuming it is. Perhaps the edit lists could be sold, and the after market editors could get paid.

I wouldn't want to get into the mess of distributing copyrighted content, so I was thinking of using the seek mechanism built into video players. A user would load original content and the edit list, and the player would handle seeking correctly.

In the naive implementation of this scenario, time would have to be very well synchronized between source materials. I'm not sure how much of a problem that would be. While writing this comment, the possibility of using image and sound recognition floated into my consciousness. Perhaps there would be a way to tag the images and sounds around cuts, to make them work even if time were off (e.g. commercial break ran longer in one time zone than another).

If you build it, I don't want my cut; I just want to know about it!


Thanks, this is definitely something that would be possible.

> I think the main hurdle would be actually doing the editing because of how time consuming it is. Perhaps the edit lists could be sold, and the after market editors could get paid.

That's exactly what was envisaged. This is just an open format. There could be (commercial) platforms or markets that offer complete filter lists. You don't have to do it yourself. Even more than that, you shouldn't do everything yourself. This can be a community effort, where you contribute only small parts.

> I wouldn't want to get into the mess of distributing copyrighted content, so I was thinking of using the seek mechanism built into video players.

This is what this project is about. You don't have to distribute source material. You have to distribute the filter lists only. The format can be "transpiled" to popular playlist formats that make use of the seek mechanisms.

> In the naive implementation of this scenario, time would have to be very well synchronized between source materials.

This is built-in. You may take a look at the converter/transpiler tool.


There's a "Cinematic Recap" of all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad, which compresses the main story down to about 2 hours. It's quite hard to find though, due to the inherent copyright issues.

Edit: Some links here: https://www.reddit.com/r/breakingbad/comments/3jt531/does_an...


This is a great example of creative work that is not allowed to exist in a system with copyright.


I don't see why; the ideal format for such a thing isn't a derivative video, but a timecode script (like we're discussing here) that takes a legal copy of Breaking Bad as input.

Similarly, I've been thinking about using a bunch of copyrighted music in a game I'm making... not by shipping the songs, but rather by just using the copies people may or may not have in their iTunes libraries, with fallbacks to non-copyright ambient music.

Remix culture is too focused on embedding. Everybody forgets about the possibility of transclusion.


It's difficult to transclude reliably and across platforms over which an experience is ported; not only does it require you to have the media/appropriate resource in question, but also support the embedding type (which may vary on platform, applications present, their security configuration, etc.)


Thanks for pointing this out. The whole point of this project using timecodes is to make everything copyright-friendly and safe to use.


Have you tried watching at a faster speed? I typically watch stuff at 1.2-1.3x, and 1.5x+ if it's animated (where the sped-up movements don't seem unnatural). It can be odd at first, but your mind quickly gets used to it. If you go back to normal speed, dialog seems to draaaaaag onnnnn foreverrrr.


You mean, like this, for video timecodes? http://www.telescopictext.com/


Thank you! This is definitely some possible use case of this project. A new category like "dispensable" would have to be added, of course.


I doubt I'll use this technology myself--I generally prefer to see movies as they were created--but recuts and derivative works can be works of art in and of themselves. One could have use this technology to create "Star Wars--the Phantom Edit", for example.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Phantom_Edit

Production companies often create airplane and television versions of movies, and it isn't any big deal. I see no reason why customization of this sort is immoral since no one is required to use it.


A couple favorites of mine (more on the artistic/creative side than strict restructurings):

Mad Max Black & Chrome: https://blackandchrome.wordpress.com

Steven Soderbergh's "Psychos": http://extension765.com/sdr/15-psychos

(Plus multiple other recuts he's done: http://extension765.com/sdr )


Yep, they should have a category for "idiocy" and things like that. Parts with annoying characters, or where they spout off nonsense. Some works are far better when they resist the urge to say dumb things. Example: "We tracked the bad guy down" vs "We tracked the bad guy using the Human Genome Project."


Time-Travel Episodes [N] Technobabble [N] ...


To the point! Thank you!

Airplane versions are just another examples where such filtering is employed already and could benefit from an open format. Just like censored TV versions.

Custom edits are possible, and encouraged, as well.

And, as you said, nobody is required to use it. I really didn't expect these accusations of immorality. Those must be misunderstandings, because one can objectively say that this is not immoral in any way.


This sounds like complete bullshit to me, and I find the the entire idea pretty reprehensible. But on the off chance that this helps someone whom is a survivor of sexual assault and buys into the idea of trigger warnings, there perhaps ought to be a differentiation between "sex" and "sexual violence" or "rape"


> there perhaps ought to be a differentiation between "sex" and "sexual violence" or "rape"

I suspect the "sex", like "nudity", is really for prudes who don't like seeing any hint of anything.


> there perhaps ought to be a differentiation between "sex" and "sexual violence" or "rape"

Rape is "violence" and not "sex" in this classification. But this should be documented, of course.

> This sounds like complete bullshit to me

I don't understand how you come to this point of view. You might personally not be interested in this. But that's not what you wrote. Anyway, as you can see in the README, there are several commercial providers for such filtering, so it's obvious that there are people who want and need this.


I’m not arguing that there’s no market for this product* . I just find artistic censorship morally objectionable in much the same way that others find violent or sexual content abhorrent.

Just on the other side of this particular culture war I guess.

* surely plenty who want, but I disagree that anyone “needs”


Apparently, an important part that was missing in my description is that this is a two-step process:

(1) The community (or even you alone, or some (commercial) provider) tags the source material with categories and severities of things that can be filtered.

(2) Either in the UI of the video player (if supported), or using the currently provided "transpiler", you get to choose what you want to filter and what you want to see.

Sorry for having forgotten to explain this in a prominent place!


Is there an existing collection of free filters for popular movies anywhere? What would it take to get this working with streaming services (like VidAngel does -- I think they pull from Google Play, but not sure)?


There is one example in the repository. To get this working, all you need is some source material that VLC media player or MPlayer can play back. That should be possible with video files, DVDs, Blu-rays, but, unfortunately, perhaps not with streaming providers.


Freedom to filter? "Freedom to deface a work of art" is more like it.

A work of art is an artist trying to tell you something. Chopping out bits based on your petty personal prejudices is like going through the Louvre and drawing clothes on all the nudes with a Sharpie. Even if you're the only one who ever has to see the defaced version -- and you can't tell me that your "freedom to filter" won't eventually start being forced down the throats of other people, like children in schools -- who gave you the right to make the decision on the artist's behalf that the defaced version doesn't compromise their work?

If you don't like art, you have always had the only freedom that matters, which is to choose not to look at it. You can live in your bubble and never risk offense if you want to; you just have to be willing to have the courage of your convictions and forgo the things you oppose. "Filtering" is just a way to try and have it both ways, to have your cake and eat it too. It's every bit as venal and cowardly today as it was when Thomas Bowdler (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Bowdler) was doing it in the 19th century.

Art is what it is. If you don't like it, don't pollute it by trying to "fix" it; leave it alone and maybe try making some of your own that meets your standards.


Hogwash. What other part of life is a "if you get a little you're forced to have it all"?

Like that meal at the restaurant? You better damned finish it all or the chef would rather you not eat any!


That is very much the case at some restaurants that consider food to be art. Art is different. To be able to appreciate and understand it, it's all or nothing.


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. However, I know film is art, but movies are mostly watched for entertainment. Censoring entertainment seems totally fine to me -- I should be able to skip watching part of a baseball game if I want. Hell, it's MY mind and eyes -- why don't I get to control what goes in? Maybe I like 95% of something. Is that to be withheld because I don't like the other 5%?


I think the argument is that art is sort of a predictive negotiation: to go with the food analogy, most chefs just won't cook for you if they know you won't eat what they're making the way they've served it (e.g. if you cover everything in a flood of ketchup.) If you're not interested in the idea they're trying to communicate to you through the art, then they stop experiencing the self-actualization of communicating that idea, and instead feel like a commoditized provider of grist for you to construct your own experience from. That's not what they signed up for.


You absolutely do get to control what goes in, and I really don't care if people use this tool only for themselves. I think you will not have seen the work in question. I think you can not have understood it the same way that someone who saw the entirety of the work can understand it, and I would consider you to be a bit silly for wasting your time.

What do you feel you gain by excising the objectionable portions of a work?


I gain not being affected by it. My buddy loves masacre horror movies. They used to scare him and freak him out, but now he's numb and it's just entertaining to watch someone get chopped up. Sure it's not real, but the effect it had on him was real. I can't say this for certain (though I need to test it now) but I'll bet I respond in a much different way to real world violence than he does now. Your mind is affected by what you put in just like your body is affected by what you put into it.


I vaguely agree with your sentiment, but vandalising artworks at the Louvre is a bad analogy. You're making out this tool is for censoring art for other people, but that's exactly what it's not.


You're catching some flak for your unrelenting attitude, but I agree. Directors make films as a cohesive whole. That's why people watch complete movies rather than just a scene. Skipping a scene is just the same as closing your eyes at the theater and then opening them later: you just missed a part of the film. How can someone claim to have seen a film if they didn't see the whole thing? Even the studios have this problem with cutting out parts that might not appeal to audiences, resulting in many films being compromised until a director's cut was released. The only time I'd advocate rearranging a film is for educational purposes like those people who played The Shining forwards and backwards simultaneously or played Memento chronologically to understand the plot better. But to do so in the first place is not the experience the director intended. If you're doing it because it's not appropriate for children, either put on some Disney or try not to shelter them so much. (It's ridiculous how people freak out over sex but not all the violence in the media) If the film offends your sensibilities and you're not willing to challenge yourself, then that's too bad and it's your loss.


Makes it way easier to directly skip to the raunchy scenes! ;-)


Actually not, except you modified the converter to invert the filters ;) (Or if you read the timecodes and then seek manually.)


Interesting idea. However there is nothing for racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia, so I added a pull request for it[1]. It does seem like a weirdly specific list of categories. Why not let people filter whatever they want?

[1] https://github.com/delight-im/MovieContentFilter/pull/2


Because for each new category, you would have to tag all the scenes in the movie that fall into that category in order to filter it out.

I think the categories chosen are those that the MPAA use to set the content rating.


Thank you!

Regarding the composition of the category list: "specific"? -- probably, "weird" -- not at all.

The initial selection of categories has been inspired by other providers and rating systems. Further, they are broad and general categories that encompass a lot of other topics such as those you suggested. Yet again, something like "gambling" on the list might make this seem "weirdly specific".

But when re-structing the current category list, one should certainly add your suggestions. Either as top categories or sub categories that could be introduced instead of severity levels.


Maybe fewer people would be complaining about opt-in filtering if the thread were titled "Watch movies with the freedom NOT to filter". This protocol would actually help those that want to watch their TV unfiltered because because it could replace the current system of filtering being forced on everybody.


Thanks a lot!

This is exactly what the vision (or a large part of it) was. But having phrased the title as you suggested, people would have countered that the best way "NOT to filter" is to play back the material as-is.


Are there some tools that make it easy to make these filters? It would be nice to have something built-in (as a plugin?) to mpv or VLC.

I've created several filters for personal use with EDL. mplayer has a decent UI way of doing that while watching the film by pressing 'i' to start a cut and 'i' again to end the cut. It's nowhere near perfect though because you still have to edit the edl file to decide whether to cut video or mute audio.

One nice feature you could add to this editing UI would be to use the subtitle file to allow jumping to the locations of certain language in order to edit them (times in subtitles aren't enough to edit a single word).


Tooling definitely has to be improved!

So this is the very beginning, and since nobody even knew of it until yesterday, manually editing the lists was fine with me.

By the way, the textual filter lists are easy to write and edit :)


Niice. So if somebody were to mark all non-action scenes (like dialogues) in action movies as "language", i' be finally able to watch some real action. Nice.


I don't expect any human would have a similar-enough concern to bother doing that for you—but that sounds like a problem amenable to automation.

You could pull it off pretty easily by running the audio track through speech recognition—not for content, just for detecting speech is happening—and then snipping out an overlapping fat-margined timeslice of the video around each instance of dialogue.


... I think original commenter is being sarcastic. There aren't a lot of movies that stand up well to having their dialogue heavily cut.


I don't think the original commenter (if not being sarcastic) would mind. They're basically asking for an unending stream of "ambient" action scenes, rather than a movie per se.


First thing that came to mind: Game of Thrones.

I imagine episodes would be 10 minutes long and you'd have no idea what's happening. Not saying they don't go over the top at times, but the brutality of a show like GoT is a very powerful illustration tool, and filtering out bits and pieces because they make you uncomfortable would ruin the entire purpose of the show.

I'm sure some people will find use for this tool, but I will likely forgo.


I only things I find offensive are commercials and Kardashians, will this work on those?


Commercials, yes. Kardashians, less so, unless you find a category that fits ;)


A tool to "filter" a work of art for yourself is also a tool to censor a work of art for someone else. In this case, and judging by the reactions from some parents here, most likely for your own children. So, despite the interesting framing of this as something that will create the "freedom to filter," it inevitably will be used to oppress.

Regardless, the end effect on the viewers (both willing and unwilling) is that they have not seen the work. They may in fact have a completely different understanding of the film or show than someone who actually has seen the work. A morally ambiguous character becomes wholly righteous. A villain becomes the hero. Violent acts cease to have a consequence of gore, perhaps of pain or death. Romance no longer leads to sex. Dialogue cut for swearing completely changes the perception of a character, the story, and the world.

In the end you have seen something worse than nothing at all--a cartoon caricature of what the creators intended. You have wasted your own time, perverted the aims of the artists behind the work, and done your children a disservice.


I feel very similarly, but also feel very strongly that is is very welcome thing in a world that seems more and more obsessed with shoving culture/content down our throats (ad-blocking software comes to mind as a similar thing). That being said, while I do use ad-blocking software, boycott companies that do excessive advertising and go out of my way to avoid advertisements (I pay for Netflix and Amazon prime and don't watch regular TV), I will not use this filter, for reasons you have stated. If I don't approve of the artist's vision (such as Michael Bay or McG, although that's more a case of artistic merits versus the content), I simply won't watch it at all.


Thanks for your thoughts, but I feel many of you are way too focused on the "big picture" and arguing about moral and ethical issues. Don't always try to make philosophic arguments about what should be and what shouldn't be. This is just a tool, a utility, something pragmatic, for use in practice. Something to help people, creating value by doing what they wish for.

Somebody is always the one who shapes what you (or your children) see. If you watch uncensored movies, it's (mainly) the director who decides. If you apply some selected filters, it's you who decides and shapes the movie. This is not inherently bad. And not all scenes contribute to the development of characters and story. Some are just for shock value, etc.


What you have created is an abomination. It is a tool that can only be used to diminish and destroy.


https://www.vidangel.com/ does this as a service


Thanks! VidAngel is actually listed in the README: https://github.com/delight-im/MovieContentFilter#commercial-... The README does also explain why an open format and open contribution might be better.


This is very handy, sometimes there's a really enjoyable movie you'd like to watch at home, but has few parts that are not appropriate for kids. I don't see the need for a high-horse about censorship in this case.


Thanks for your understanding! This is what was the "vision" of this project, the current use case and all that has ever been thought about. This is not forcing censorship upon all movie viewers.


Hi! I have a similar project called Feerless that provides crowd-sourced, preemptive notifications for Netflix at feerless.us Would love to chat about a possible collaboration.


On the flipside, reverse the sense of how that tool generates EDL and you've got a "shorten Hollywood blockbusters to the good bits" system... ;)


You could certainly do that, if you were interested ;)


Really cool idea!


Thank you!


I thought it would use deep learning to do this. Silly me..


How does this work?


Thanks for your question!

The README tries to explain a lot of the things, but I can answer questions here, of course, and give an overview.

All in all, the idea is quite simple and the project doesn't really do that much, yet.

As an alternative to commercial providers for content filters, family filters, etc., this project tries to establish an open format that can be used to describe any video source. The filters are split into several categories where each has "severity" level.

This way, you can adjust the filters to your personal needs and wishes when using them. Example: You are terribly frightened by fire because you have some childhood trauma. But you don't care about violence and blood splatters at all. For me, this might be the other way round. So if we can adjust the filters to our needs, they can be useful to both of us.

Since nobody supports this format today (nobody even knew of it until today), a web tool is provided that lets you "transpile" the filters to three popular playlist formats.


What are the playlist formats? Are there video players which seamlessly buffer and play content based on start/stop times defined in playlists?


As outlined in the README, the playlist formats are:

* XSPF for VLC media player

* M3U for VLC media player

* EDL for MPlayer

And yes, they do support seamless plaback based on start/stop times.


This is basically a platform for movie censorship. Who gets to decide which parts of what movies are, violent, sexual, etc. I know I don't have to use it but regardless I hope this does not catch on. If you don't like the content in movies you don't have to watch them.


But isn't this kind of the point? This gives you a programmatic way to specify to your media player just what content you don't want to watch. If this stuff gets popular, then the publishers should feel less pressure to censor themselves.


Exactly, thank you!

And, in consequence, reducing the level of censorship that is forced upon you without your consent.


Will they? Who wants their artistry chopped up by an automatic filter? This is a lot like the movie rating system. http://www.buzzfeed.com/jordanzakarin/movie-ratings-mpaa-are...

Many people disagree but I don't like giving groups like the MPAA the unfettered ability to label what's good and bad.


You can see the MPAA is a system imposed by other people, and this is a self-imposed system? And that this self-imposed system affects no one else?


>But isn't this kind of the point? This gives you a programmatic way to specify to your media player just what content you don't want to watch

Only if the filters are accurate. Which is impossible since severity will differ from person to person. Eventually someone will have to make the calls on what gets cut and if so, at what severity. At which point individuals are trusting someone else to "censor properly".

For this to work with a large community - severity needs a strict definition. An example as to why:

Nemo's mother's implied death in Finding Nemo { Category: Death, Severity: High }

Inappropriate/misogynistic humor in Finding Nemo (every single scene with Doroth in particular) { Category: Langage, Severity: High }

Shark chase scene in Finding Nemo { Category: Violence, Severity: High }

I'm sure I could find some more problematic scenes in Finding Nemo. There are enough scenes to remove to turn it from PG to G, and honestly "lower than G" if that were even such a thing.

And since the severity is "high" it would be censored uniformly across all thresholds, making the different thresholds meaningless.


The assumption that the censor will just do the right thing is where the real danger lies. People are likely down voting you because they think it's ridiculous to think that a shark in Finding Nemo would be classified as high severity violence. Still you have hit upon the point but perhaps with an extreme example.


>People are likely down voting you because they think it's ridiculous to think that a shark in Finding Nemo would be classified as high severity violence. Still you have hit upon the point but perhaps with an extreme example.

Who gets to judge that that is an "extreme" example? I'm a fragile person and found those scenes extremely frightening. Are they going to tell me I'm wrong? Who are they to judge my emotions? If I'm going to be subject to such violence even with the setting on the highest it will go then it is completely useless to me and others who are easily triggered if we are still going to have to watch graphic scenes.

I want to see a reasonable argument against that which doesn't involve doublethink. If it involves setting strict standards for how ratings are judged - that's the exact flaw I was pointing out.


If you don't like the content in movies you don't have to watch them.

And now we have a tool to do just that. But even better we can choose not to watch just the bits we don't want to.

That means I'll be able to set the toddlers off watching Star Wars without having to spring into action at minute seventeen to fast forward past the smouldering corpses of Luke's aunt and uncle.

Apologies for the damage this caused you.


The entire point of this project is, as shown in the title of this HN submission, that it provides you with the freedom to filter. No censorship forced upon you.


You can label anything a freedom.


If you choose what to filter, or even to filter nothing at all, this is freedom in that regard.


I don't get to choose what is considered violent or sexual. That part is forced upon me.


But it's not. You can write your own filter files or choose to use filter files written by those you trust.


No, in the second step, you compile your personal selection of filters from all filters that are available.

This may not be clear enough in the description. Sorry!


You took away his freedom to be unaware of choice.


Not censorship when it is not forced upon you.

If I choose to skip a chapter in a book I'm reading because I'm not interested in that chapter you wouldn't call that censorship.

BTW, this has already caught on as the service http://clearplay.com/ seems to be doing well.


To clarify my position here, I take offense at an organization, such as the MPAA, deciding what society should consider violent, sexual, etc. This is a form of censorship. If you don't think so you should read up on the continuing debate around our movie rating systems. Many people blindly follow the guidance of the censor to the detriment of a freethinking society.

Regarding "freedom" as used in the context of this project. Yes, in some scenarios I may have the freedom not to use this filter but it could easily be abused. I can see this system being used to censor films in schools or at public events where the viewers don't have a choice. Furthermore, the artists creating movies are not provided the freedom to opt out of this labeling system. It is applied potentially against their will.


Currently everybody can decide to watch a movie or not (or censor if you're deciding for someone else). This just give greater control to watch _parts_ of a movie to view or not.


> If you don't like the content in movies you don't have to watch them.

Your comment is incoherent.

This website is a tool for people to use for themselves to decide if they want to see a movie or not. How do they know if they don't like the content in a movie? this site will tell them.


Incoherent? Please explain?


What is being censored, and how is it being censored?


If you choose to use this filter you are choosing to watch censored movies.

If we have a censored version of Huckleberry Fin and a non-censored version, you could say I have a choice of which to read but it is still censorship and we still live in a world where books are censored.




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