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Trilogy’s Movie Mask Allows Viewers to See DVDs Their Way

5 Oct, 2001 By: John Jimenez

How many movie fans wish they could see themselves on screen fighting Nazis as Indiana Jones?

How many viewers appreciate the historical value of Pearl Harbor but wish the sex and language could be toned down? Well, soon both groups will be able to get their way, according to BreckRice, v.p. and chief revenue officer of Trilogy Studios.

Salt Lake City-based Trilogy is preparing to release Movie Mask, a product that allows viewers to customize digital video.

“The new code [created by Trilogy’s technologists] allows us to manipulate anything digital in real time or on the fly,” Rice says.

Movie Mask is a software product that can be installed onto a DVD player. It works on any next-generation player, meaning one with memory capability and, preferably, Internet connectivity.

The product is compatible with PCs, Macintosh computers, PlayStation 2s and Xbox, and Rice says 25 manufacturers make players that will work with the software.

Movie Mask’s first version, due in the first quarter of 2002, will allow viewers to gather more information about the DVD they’re watching in the form of a column on the side of the TV screenfeaturing rolling text or video; as well as watch movies at the ratings level they choose. For example,they can edit out sexual content, violence, bad language or scenes they don’t particularly like. It caneven digitally manipulate a character’s lips to synchronize with edited language. Or in Titanic, forexample, rather than skipping the nude scene, Kate Winslet can be fitted with a virtual corset.

However, for Movie Mask to work, Trilogy first has to create edited versions of DVD movies to provide the information the software taps into. At launch, Rice expects 500 movies to be done,basically the top 500 DVD sellers. Eventually, though, he plans to cover every DVD on the market.

New movies will be completed daily, he says.

“We’re not restricted to just what will fit on a disc,” says Rice, which means future versions will have more and more capabilities, culminating in the ability for viewers to digitally impose their heads on stars’ bodies.

Viewers will also be able to make a request for a particular change to a movie they’d like to see atwww.Trilogystudios.com. The software will initially be available online and at brick-and-mortar software stores, but eventuallywill be bundled with next-generation players, Rice says.

He also says Trilogy is in talks with Hollywood Video and Blockbuster about having software available for rent, but nothing has been finalized.

Rice expects demand to be high based on market research Trilogy conducted, which showed 76% of consumers want more control over the media in their homes. Also, Trilogy is focusing on a niche market of 8 million users (though Rice says 176 million people have the capability to use thesoftware) but needs only 20,000 takers to break even.

There has been interest in such a product for video games too, says Rice, but it is difficult because there are so many different platforms. However, it may be a reality down the road. “Anything digitalwe can manipulate and control,” he says.

Analyst Greg Durkin of Alexander & Associates is unfamiliar with Movie Mask’s technology but expresses some skepticism as to how the system might work. He does think it may find a place inthe market, though. “DVD is not really a family product right now as much as it could be down the line,” he says. “When it does become a family product, [Movie Mask] could be very useful.”

So far, “we’ve kept [Movie Mask] really close to the vest,” says Rice, to maintain a competitive advantage. However, the company is going public now to “stimulate interest from the investmentside.” Rice says. Particularly with current economic conditions, Trilogy is always looking for partnersand investors.

Movie Mask is expected to retail for about $35.95. The developer’s tools, which will allow users to create their own edited versions of DVDs, are scheduled for release in summer 2002 for less than$300.

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