ClearPlay Streaming: The Reason My Film Editing Days Are Over

When my kids were growing up, my wife and I were not only intentional about what movies they watched, I found myself going to some bizarre extremes to follow through on that intentionality. For instance, my daughter asked about seeing the movie Titanic when she was in middle school. With its nudity and two sex scenes, there was no way this DiCaprio/Winslet film was going to play on our boxy television set. Or at least not without some editing. So, I set about a rather primitive process of doctoring the VHS (remember those?!) copy we owned.

Here’s what I did. First I put a piece of tape over that back-of-the cassette square hole. That allowed me to be able to record. Then, I found each offensive scene, pressed “record” and essentially taped “nothingness” for as long as I needed. Eventually I had a version of Titanic that was family-friendly.

In fact, somewhere in my house I still have it if you’d like to borrow it sometime!

Soon thereafter, thankfully, I discovered I no longer had to pretend I was a film editor. I became acquainted with a service called CleanFlicks that did the actual editing for concerned parents like me in a much more professional way. All I had to do was go out and buy the film, mail it to them, and they would edit it and mail it back. Suddenly (and with less hassle and lot less static), our family film world opened up significantly.

Doing what I do here at Plugged In, I ran across dozens of films over the years that I found encouraging and inspiring, the types of movies I wanted my kids to see … except there were frequently content issues. For instance, I liked Cinderella Man and Sea Biscuit, but a number of misuses of our Savior’s Name in each spoiled them for me. I admit it was a bit difficult for this penny pincher to “buy” the film twice (once at the store and again to have it edited), but to protect my kids (and myself), my wife and I felt it was worth it!

Well, CleanFlicks has been gone for years now due to a lawsuit and court decision revolving around copyright and resale issues. But taking over the job is a terrific film-editing service called ClearPlay. I’ve been a fan for years, and now that you know my illustrious “film-editing” background, you know why.

ClearPlay doesn’t create a new copy of your movie. Instead, it orchestrates a series of digital “edit cues” that either skip over the carefully selected scenes that are offensive, or mutes foul language while you’re watching the original movie. Now, up until recently, to utilize ClearPlay, a family needed to purchase a ClearPlay DVD player and download those cues to a memory stick. While the players weren’t (and still aren’t) all that expensive and the downloading isn’t that difficult, it’s still a bit of a hurdle for some families.

So, I’m happy to announce that ClearPlay has made it even easier to watch edited films with some new technological advances. Families can now stream edited films with no need to purchase a ClearPlay player. The quick version of how it works is this: You go to ClearPlay and choose a film to watch. You’re then directed to Google Play to pay a rental fee (or you can buy the movie, too, in some cases), and then back to ClearPlay to control the level of editing desired. With this method, watching an edited version of a film has reached a new level of convenience.

And in collaboration with ClearPlay, Focus on the Family has seen fit to let you link directly to all that techie safeness right from the Plugged In website. On every video review page, you’ll now see ClearPlay’s “Stream Here” link. Just follow the instructions once you’re on ClearPlay’s site. Sure, there’s more involved in the process than simply streaming something in its raw form. But the extra couple of steps will be so worth it when it comes to protecting your family and teaching discernment. And it’s sure a lot easier than the Titanic steps I used to take!

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

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