Edit Your DVD Movies for the Classroom

Trim DVDsWhen I was a freshman in high school my English teacher (yeah, it was still called English back then) decided to show us a movie version of Romeo and Juliet. However, the movie had one nude scene that my teacher tried to fast-forward through. But, just as you might suspect, her finger on the controls slipped and the whole class got to see a side of Romeo that we did not expect.

Today we can avoid problems like this by ripping and editing DVDs. Ripping is the process of copying audio or video content from a CD or DVD to your computer’s hard disk. Once it is on your computer, you can trim and edit the DVD’s content down to something more appropriate and meaningful for the classroom.

As a physics teacher, I’ve done this when I wanted to show several clips from several different movies in one class period. It would be impractical to spin up each DVD (especially the ones that have previews that are almost impossible to get around). Instead, I put all the clips I want on one disc.

To get started, you’ll need to first BUY THE DVD. Seriously, don’t steal movies. If you use it for class, then buy it for class. If you copy DVDs that don’t belong to you, then you’re basically telling your students that it is okay to plagiarize, cheat and steal.

Cut out Ben Stein with DVD ShrinkNext, you’ll need to find software that will rip your DVD. Tekzilla, a technology question and answer show, did a round-up and review of DVD ripping software. (Fast-forward to 7 mins and 29 sec to learn more.) I’ve been using DVD Shrink to rip my DVD’s. Not only does it allow you to copy the DVD to your computer, but DVD Shrink also lets you change the size of the files by recompressing the video or removing the extra audio tracks. It even has the option to trim video clips. So when an actor like Ben Stein does something nutty, you can just cut him out when you make a backup copy of your favorite movie. Ahhhh, now I can watch Ferris Bueller again.

Lastly, you’ll need to burn the new files back to DVD. For this you’ll need a computer that has a DVD burner. Of course, you could also put your clips on a USB flash drive and just play them with something like VLC Media Player.

Happy ripping!

4 thoughts to “Edit Your DVD Movies for the Classroom”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I want to use Numb3rs in my classes and haven’t been able to figure out how to do this.

  2. All good points and it makes teaching easier – but interesting to note that you mention not to steal movies.
    However, there is no mention that using any product to removes CSS enryption from a DVD (such as DVD Shrink) breaks copyright and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

    It is the MOST frustrating thing – that the DMC Act does allow for exceptions to circumventing CSS control for use by media studies and film professors – but makes no mention of normal teachers.

    As long as the school holds a legal copy I am can’t see the issue.

  3. Changing the format in which you purchased a movie (like moving it from VHS to DVD or from DVD to your computer) is a violation of copyright law.

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