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Editing Software Maker Courts Hollywood

12 Apr, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Trilogy Studios has been forced to delay the launch of its Movie Mask software twice because of funding issues, but the little Salt Lake City business is plugging along in the belief that the market will support its product.

The company makes a program that lets users mask aspects of movie scenes they might find offensive. The oft-cited example is the ability to put undergarments on a nude figure to eliminate nudity from an otherwise child-friendly scene.

“To our knowledge, we are the only company in our space that is trying to ask for input from the industry,” said Trilogy founder and COO Breck Rice.

Critics say the service may step on copyrights, but Rice has been meeting with studio representatives — though he said the studios with which he's met have bound him to confidentiality at this stage.

“We've met with about half of [the studios] and are awaiting additional meetings with the other half,” Rice said. “We feel very positive.”

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) spokeswoman Emily Kutner confirmed the organization met with Trilogy representatives, but said the trade group is not taking a position on Movie Mask.

“Look how many things come into the market that we never get involved in,” she said. “Having the MPAA at the table doesn't necessarily mean we give it thumbs up or thumbs down. It's just good for us to be at the table.”

The MPAA meeting led to a meeting with the Directors Guild, Rice said.

“That kind of went as expected. We knew there was going to be a lot of hesitancy from the artists themselves,” he said. “The fact is that technology does exist today to manipulate content. If the studios and directors themselves supplied so many options, why would consumers need to go anywhere else for that?”

But rather than discouraging Rice, meeting with Hollywood heavyweights has actually broadened his vision to ultimately license the software for the studios to create multiple-rating versions of movies for theatrical and video release.

“We would prefer to provide the tools to the studios so they can be involved during the production. Then the movie would be already ready for multiple-rating release,” Rice said. “As you see more theaters adopt the digital distribution, there could be opportunities to release multiple versions to theaters.”

Trilogy reps also have been meeting with hardware makers, so far gaining the most interest from Fisher-Sanyo, Rice said. The hardware maker already incorporates a foul-language masking system, TV Guardian, into some of its DVD players.

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