Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Automation Transforming the Film Industry

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Automation Transforming the Film Industry
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Automation Transforming the Film Industry

In an interview with Jacob Kyle Young (JKY), actor and founder of Post Modern Entertainment, TR Cutler describes how virtual reality, machine learning, and other industrial automation  is being applied in the entertainment industry.

Entertainment machine learning drives extensive usage of virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) is projected to be the rapidly growing segment in the media and entertainment space, according to Global Entertainment, which reported that 68 million VR headsets would be sold in the USA before the end of 2021, raising VR content revenue to $ 5.0 billion. During COVID, it became evident that using AI can help create VR interactive content. Using AI techniques, the entertainment industry creates remarkable scenes with a pair of goggles. With these advanced automation technologies and others, the production time for entertainment content is truncated significantly. Normal timelines of a feature film (from pre-production to post-production and distribution) can run 3+ years. With AI and VR, the process is cut to less than six months.

Reporting automation in the data-driven entertainment arena

AI not only automates minute-by-minute or day-to-day operations but it also assists media content organizations in making strategic business decisions. Using technologies like Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and machine learning, these manufacturers use Lean Six Sigma methodologies to generate channel performance reports from raw data and advance analytics. No longer is this copious data presented as large Excel sheets; rather detail reports are designed to generate and implement meaningful strategic decision-making information.  This is no different than high-level CRM data and B2B optimization data on an automotive plant floor.

AI is autogenerating multi-lingual content, expanding the reach and market opportunities for entertainment content manufacturers. Subtitle generation via AI also immediately makes content accessible (and available to download) for a global market. International media and producers make their content useful for audiences from various regions around the globe. That said, prior to AI, the cost of translations and cultural context made the cost prohibitive or questionable. The need to provide accurate and eye-catchy multilingual subtitles for video digital content platforms is vital. Manually writing subtitles for multiple movies and TV shows in dozens of languages may take thousands of hours at too high a price. To overcome these challenges, the media and entertainment sector is using AI-based technologies like natural language production and natural language processing. YouTube’s Artificial Intelligence enables its publishers to automatically create closed captions for videos uploaded on the platform, giving them easy access to content.

I recently had the chance to interview Jacob Kyle Young (JKY), actor and founder of Post Modern Entertainment about the role of automation technologies in the entertainment industry. He is pictured on the left in the photo above.

How is Artificial Intelligence (AI) impacting the entertainment industry?

JKY: Through automation and AI advancements in manufacturing, the entertainment industry has found ways to streamline the processes involved in pre-production such as casting actors through a digital platform like Actors Access or LAcasting. A database is available for casting to consider past performances by talent as well as making a more efficient workplace for film makers.

These tools use Machine Learning algorithms to consider actors’ social media metrics with target audiences. Actors with large social media followings are cast in roles to ensure audiences to promote feature productions. It is not a substitute for talent, but no longer are large studios pushing the publicity, that has been relegated to actors and social media influencers. 

How does AI and Machine Learning Big Data impact what films get produced?
JKY: Netflix is using AI to determine what audiences see on streaming services.  Monitoring viewership patterns, curated content is put before audiences that will appeal to them most based on prior viewership behavior. This is social science and data-driven learning patterns that dictate the themes, topics, actors, and velocity of entertainment content. AI culls this information guiding future content which then enters post-production.

How are storyboards automated using animatics? 
JKY: Animatics can be great to help visualize the finished film, but they are complicated and generally quite expensive. Until recently storyboards were still hand drawn. ProductionNext has a tool that allows screenwriters automate storyboards into a simple animatic so investors can better visualize a film.  This technology is being used on an upcoming production of Post Modern Entertainment called Breaking Reach, which is currently being shopped and will enter pre-production in 2022.

How is post-production automated?
JKY: Automation now permits what was an 80% manual process into a premiere final product for an audience. Post-production goes far beyond editing footage. Automation exceeds the efficiency skills of human editing without restricting the careful directorial choices. Accessing metadata for each scene, calculating trending, and star ratings begin to transform an industry that will celebrate the centennial of the first “talkie” in 2027.

How has automation via virtual cinematography changed the industry? 
JKY: Virtual cinematography is the set of cinematographic techniques performed in a computer graphics environment. Virtual cinematography can be used to shoot scenes from otherwise impossible camera angles, create the photography of animated films, and manipulate the appearance of computer-generated effects. For the soon to be produced feature film, “Breaking Reach” this method will be used to film such scenes as having a mass audience in the bleachers at a football game. In the past, productions would need to cast individual people (extras) and pay them accordingly. AI technology and virtual cinematography will create the realistic large public congregation with computer animation. This is particularly important as COVID lingers on and on-set requirements and restrictions create limitations for this type of scene.

Is virtual computer-generated imagery replacing the green screen? 
JKY: The newest addition to the Star Wars movies, “The Rise of Skywalker,” make it obvious how virtual studios are able to literally bring someone back from the dead. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) creates life-like versions of people. This supersedes the now antiquated green screen, which was known for and limited to adding a simulated background. With current virtual adaptations, a green screen is used far less frequently.


What are the drawbacks to CGI and will this automation replace human actors? 
A: The cry that automation will replace humans is simply not true. We cannot replace the authenticity of real human performance. Though we might be semi-convinced from a CGI performance, avatars, and video representation notwithstanding, there is a reason why movies are still made in live action with real actors. The unpredictability and mercurial choices of actors and human interaction cannot be undervalued nor automated.

Actors react in real-time and part of the thrill of live theater is that fact that no two performances are the same. Automation removes the tedious pre- and post-production. It creates cost-efficiencies. It does not, nor will it ever replace great actors.

About The Author

Thomas R. Cutler is the President and CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., celebrating its 23rd year. Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 8000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. TR Cutler, Inc. recently launched three new divisions focusing on Gen Z, the African manufacturing sector, and manufacturing in the entertainment sector. Cutler authors more than 1000 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector.

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