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On the Pleasures of Skipping

27 Oct, 2003 By: Stephanie Prange

There are still a few people, including me, who can remember the 8-track tape. One of the only cool things about the format was the ability to jump quickly through an album. The CD came along, giving listeners the ability to move with precision from one song to the next, and the 8-track tape was history -- like my family's wood-paneled station wagon that had a player built in.

DVD designers are beginning to take advantage of the skipping capabilities the format offers in unique ways. Recently, I sat down with some friends to play the new board-DVD combo game “Scene It.” For those who haven't heard of it, “Scene It” is a game in which players look at movie clips on a DVD and answer questions about them to move around the game board. The DVD shuffles among a large library of clips to spit out questions. You don't have to be a big movie buff to win, just an attentive viewer. It does help if you've seen a lot of films. Still, my non-movie industry neighbors had as much success at it as I did. I can't wait for future versions of the game. There's already a kids' version, but I foresee a market for numerous niches. Star Trek fans would surely like to test their knowledge of that series' sci-fi trivia.

Use of the skipping feature can be both clever and simple. Take New Line Home Entertainment's “Jump to a Death” feature on the Jan. 13 release of Freddy vs. Jason. Horror gore fans can jump to a particular death or watch them all in one bloody sequence. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but a brilliant idea nonetheless.

Then there's the personal skipping that I like to do, a sort of ad hoc editing of movie sequences I'd rather not see. This comes in handy particularly with longer films where directors (especially actor-directors) have been given too much free rein. No offense to the Wachowski brothers, but that whole fleshy Zion dance-club scene didn't do it for me in The Matrix Reloaded. So I just skip it.

Let those filmmakers come at me with their bloated director's cuts, that extra scene that was soooo funny that they had to put it back in on DVD, that gratuitous strip scene on the unrated disc. I've got the ultimate weapon for surplus scenes. With my DVD remote, I just skip it.

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