If you teach in the Humanities or Social Sciences, eventually you face this problem: you want to show parts of a two-hour movie in a class that’s one hour long. What do you do? Spend a few nights learning some complex video-editing software and then trying to edit and compile a condensed version of the film? Stand at the front of the room with a bunch of timings written on an envelope, trying to grab the slider bar at the precise moments? Rely on your memory to jump around the film to appropriate points, then find yourself flipping through scenes trying to find that one bit of dialogue, while your class laughs and points?
Each of these options is completely stupid, and I have done them all. Many times. It drove me crazy, so I wrote a program to take away the crazy. I call it ClipBot.
Here’s how it works. First, you set some timings for the parts of the movie you want to watch:
Then you click the big green button. That’s it. The movie (or audio file) will now play the specified clips in order, seamlessly. No more late-night editing. No more improvising.
Video files are rendered through an instance of the Windows Media Player, and ClipBot inherits some of Microsoft’s choices. I find that MPEG and MP4 files work fine, and AVI files work fine if they use a standard audio codec like MP3. I haven’t tried any exotic file formats like Matroska or VOB etc. Tell me about your experience if you do.
This program was a lot easier to write in Visual Basic than in C#, so it will need the VB6 runtime. If you have Windows, you probably already have it. If not, get it from Microsoft here. ClipBot will install the Windows Media Player file (one dll file only) if you need it.
Costy Spendy? Baity Switchy?
Legal Issues? Privacy? Malware?
ClipBot does not use the Internet in any way. It’s quite dumb. In terms of potential copyright violations for screenings of films, etc., that’s your biz. ClipBot can be used for mashups and re-imaginings of films, but it doesn’t facilitate wrongdoing by design. What you smoke in my wizard bong is your own affair.
May 30, 2018: If the media file is not found in the target directory, ClipBot will now ask to try the current directory. I added this to prevent being tied to a particular directory structure. So, if you set your file to C:\files\Superman.mp4 and your school directory is
H:\\blah\Superman.mp4, it will still work as long as ClipBot.exe and Superman.mp4 are in the same directory.
May 20, 2018: Initial release.