ClearPlay Concept & Implementation
Parental Controls for Family Viewing of Popular Movies while Filtering Violence, Nudity & Profanity
There have always been movies that in my mind utilized violence, language or sexual situations for no other reason than to supplement for the lack of imagination on the part of the director. Perhaps it was his/her decision to take the easy way out in storytelling, rather than let the viewers' imagination play a part in the story as is my personal preference. This doesn't mean, however that there aren't movies that portray these things in a necessary and relevant context, but too often it is easy for a director to allow a single graphical scene to interfere with what is otherwise a "decent" story. This is a divisive topic, mind you - one that will have one half of the issue up in arms over the authors original intent while the other side screams about family values and choice. Well, I am one for freedom of choice and since this technology involves purchasing the original DVD's it is merely a voluntary act to then select the option of watching them in a way that allows you to shelter your family from violence, profanity, sexual situations and more. Support for ClearPlay filtering includes the CEA, Kids First Coalition, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the American Psychological Association, and Electronic Frontier Foundation.
ClearPlay Inc., founded in 1999, develops advanced parental control technologies for consumer electronic products, including DVD players and recorders, TV's, cable and set-top boxes, digital video recorders, etc. The company's first product allows consumers to view DVDs, purchased or rented through conventional retailers, free of unwanted content. It gives consumers the ability to skip and mute over graphic violence, sex, nudity and profanity if they choose. ClearPlay filters can be purchased at retail, by subscription and over the Internet, and do not touch, alter or change the DVD in any way. The technology can also be applied to video on demand.
The Basic Concept and Implementation
I wanted to give a basic idea of the concept for those unfamiliar with ClearPlay filtering. What ClearPlay does NOT do is alter the content of the movie in any way. For example, it does not substitute text or audio for the original soundtrack. In addition, it is not a means of purchasing edited or adjusted content in the form of sold DVDs or digital media content. It is a distinctive, optional filtering system that works in a flexible manner under the direction and specifications of the user.
The ClearPlay service uses "ClearPlay Filters" that are associated with each different movie. The ClearPlay filters are compiled by a staff of movie professionals. These professionals go through individual movies and identify content which may have contributed to a movie's PG-13 or R rating. The content they identify generally falls under the categories of graphic violence, sexual content, and language.
The user-interface is very simple. You can turn ClearPlay ON or OFF with a single setting. You can also customize your filter preferences by adjusting 14 different filter settings (that gives you essentially 16,384 potential user configurations!). Based on your settings, content will be skipped over or muted during playback of the movie. Great care and effort is taken to ensure that although certain content is removed, the continuity of the story is maintained, and the presentation retains its entertaining value. Many say the end result is similar to an airline or television presentation of the movie.
New filters can be downloaded from the ClearPlay website and new movies seem to be added regularly. As of this review some of the most recent movies, including the new release of the Star Wars Trilogy, were present. New filters are downloaded from the site, burned onto CD-ROM and loaded into the player. In addition, ClearPlay will also mail you updated filter CDs if you are unable to download or burn them yourself.