Guest Column | How AI will reshape film production while enabling studios to create films efficiently

Image courtesy: freepik (created by starline)

Since its inception in the late 1880s, movies have always served as a medium to bring alive people’s imagination. Today, cinema has evolved to a medium of joy and happiness providing people with an opportunity for a two-hour getaway from real-life challenges.  Almost every country on the planet has its own film industry. While Hollywood is beloved by audiences for its ability to produce high-quality films using cutting-edge technology, Bollywood is riding on the emotional connect and garnering global traction with strong storylines and unique storytelling representing the Indian culture. From computer-generated visual effects to employing highly skilled professionals and deploying state-of-the-art equipment to produce breathtaking movies, filmmaking today has also evolved for the better.

Film industries across the globe have been progressively investing in and experimenting with novel technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) during the past decade. Algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have helped in completing film-related tasks swiftly and at scale in real-time. These new-age technologies, when used effectively, produce some of the best editing, high definition graphics, and visual effects available today.

AI simplifying pre-production:

Today, filmmakers use AI in a variety of ways, starting with pre-production and continuing through production and post-production. As a result, AI has proven to be advantageous in practically every aspect of the film industry. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms help the new age filmmakers in producing new scripts or to construct synopses and character names for movies that have previously been produced. A Machine Learning algorithm is fed a plethora of data in the form of several movie scripts or a book that is adapted into a movie to generate a new script. The AI programme learns from the data and generates new scripts. Alternatively, it can also analyze, comprehend, and arrange a book’s story to create its own version of a screenplay incorporating key plot points.

Famous Studios managing director Anant Roongta

Filmmaking is a challenging field and 60 per cent of the entire time spent creating movies is spent for pre-production of the film before it goes on the floor. Pre-production is a difficult task. Scouting sites, casting actors, and other activities such as preparing the filming schedule are all part of the job. Pre-production procedures can be made more efficient with AI. For example, AI can aid with the planning of shoot schedules and other pre-production activities; it can also look at the available dates for different actors and create the schedule accordingly. As a result, the filming schedule can be set to maximize efficiency. AI technology can recognize locales depicted in scripts and screenplays because it understands them. It can then recommend real-world sites where the scene could be shot which would eventually save a significant amount of time. In addition, the method can be used to make castings. Producers and casting directors can use AI to assist them find the perfect actors. Actors’ past performances can be analyzed using AI systems. It has the ability to examine the locations where their films were successful, and the actors have a large fan base. Producers can then tailor their promotions and marketing strategies to fit their needs.

AI for VFX:

Hollywood movie studios are on the lookout for engineers who can train AI-based deep learning and machine learning algorithms that can perform the duties of a visual-effects specialist. Intelligent algorithms can readily perform tasks such as making a computer character look lifelike or smoothing out an effect, for instance. Complex algorithms have the potential to render advanced visual effects automatically. As a result, AI assists creative artists in focusing their attention on other vital tasks rather than wasting time meticulously refining an effect. Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War had American actor Josh Brolin play the titular character of the supervillain, Thanos. The visual effects of Thanos’ on-screen appearance was curated so well that it looked very real and life-like. The visual effects team accomplished this feat by using an AI algorithm to track Brolin’s facial expressions which included minute details such as his wrinkles, and then using another algorithm to map his face renders onto the body of Thanos. With the help of Machine Learning Algorithms, the whole process could be done in real-time. If this was done without AI, it would have taken no less than a few weeks for the team to get the same results using face mapping and swapping technology.

AI for film marketing and promotions:

Typically, film production companies spend more than a third of their budget on promoting their films. It would be a more efficient use of their budget if they could spend their marketing money properly by targeting the proper demographics. We live in a day and age now where it is possible to give hyper-personalized content to customers based on their preferences using high-end AI techniques.

Fox, an American film studio, has teamed up with Google Cloud to create Merlin, an AI-based learning programme. Merlin’s primary goal is to analyze trailers and discover basic trends in viewers’ preferences for various genres of films. Traditional film studios did not provide this kind of personalized service. Majority of these companies’ products have been withdrawn or their direct consumer contacts have been severed. Studios have no idea who is watching their films or television shows. This situation is, nevertheless, gradually improving. MoviePass, a subscription-based movie ticketing service, is attempting to replicate Netflix’s data-driven model in the theatre market. The combination of online video streaming and artificial intelligence allows movie studios to develop long-term direct-to-consumer connections.

In the long run, AI for film making can help studios improve the quality of cinema produced while ensuring greater impact with effective returns.

(This article has been contributed by Famous Studios managing director Anant Roongta. AnimationXpress does not necessarily subscribe to these views.)

Games