Movies have captured the imagination of people ever since they came into the limelight. Right from the first motion picture in the late 1880s to the upcoming latest sci-fi blockbuster, cinema has become a medium of love, joy, and passion for all movie lovers. Almost every country across the globe has its own movie industry. The film industry of USA has the distinction of being the biggest, most famous, and most recognizable industry in the world today. It is none other than Hollywood.
Hollywood is universally adored by moviegoers due to its ability to churn out high-quality cinema with the best technology. Computer-generated imagery and visual effects were always a hallmark of Hollywood. The industry is well-known for using the best technicians and equipment to create breath-taking cinema.
Over the last decade, Hollywood has been increasingly investing and experimenting with innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI and machine learning algorithms can achieve tasks quickly and at scale. They are capable of accomplishing a variety of things in real-time that require dedicated teams of people. If used effectively, these new age technologies can bring out the best edits, the best performances, and the most advanced visual effects possible today.
Artificial Intelligence – The Game Changer
Movie production studios in Hollywood are nowadays looking to hire engineers who are good at training AI-based deep learning and machine learning algorithms that could do a visual effects specialist’s work. For example, work such as making a digital character look realistic, or smoothing out an effect, etc. can be done easily by intelligent algorithms. Advanced algorithms have the capability to automatically render advanced visual effects. AI, therefore, helps creative artists focus their efforts in doing other important work than waste their valuable time in meticulously editing an effect.
Last year’s superhero blockbuster, Avenger’s Infinity War, had American actor Josh Brolin play the titular character of the super villain, Thanos. The visual effects of Thanos on-screen appearance was done so well that it looked very real and life-like. How the visual effects team accomplished this feat was 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 on to the body of Thanos. Using machine learning algorithms, the whole process could be done in real-time. If this was done without AI, it would have taken at least a few weeks for the team to get the same results using face mapping and swapping technology.
Disney recently came up with robot acrobats that could perform as well as human acrobats. The robot acrobats could be edited using AI and made to look like their human counterparts. Thus, the actors could focus on parts of the job which is less dangerous.
In the early 2000s, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series used AI-driven software to generate the huge armies seen in all three movies. In 2016, 20th Century Fox partnered with IBM Research to develop a movie trailer using AI for the movie “Morgan”. IBM’s AI cognitive system, Watson, was used to create a horror movie trailer that kept audiences on the edge of their seats.
Apart from the editing and performance sides of the filmmaking process, AI may soon be used to decide whether a film is to be made or not. According to Variety, a Belgian company called Scriptbook has come up with AI-based algorithms that can analyse a screenplay and predict whether or not a movie will be commercially successful. This will help production studios to make calculated decisions on which movies need to be made.
Using AI for Hyper-personalized User Targeting
Movie studios typically spend over a third of their budget on marketing their movies. If they could spend their marketing money wisely by targeting the right audience, it would make a more efficient utilization of their budget. Using high-end AI tools, it’s possible to deliver hyper-personalized content to customers as per their preferences.
American movie production company, Fox, formed a partnership with Google Cloud to develop Merlin, an AI-based learning program. The main objective of Merlin is to analyse trailers and identify the basic patterns in audiences’ preferences for different types of movies. Online streaming giant, Netflix, uses AI for program recommendations for its subscribers and also to generate targeted mini trailers when a user clicks or does a mouse-hover on a show to consider watching it.
This kind of a personalized relationship wasn’t available with traditional Hollywood companies. Most of these companies’ products were removed or have been cut off from direct customer relationships. Studios don’t know exactly who is watching their movies and TV shows. This situation is however slowly changing. Subscription-based movie ticketing service, MoviePass, is trying to emulate a Netflix style data-driven model around the theatrical movie business.
Online video streaming coupled with AI, enables movie production companies to build direct-to-consumer relationships on a long-term basis. This will be a powerful aspect of Hollywood in the near future. Disney is one of the big movie production companies that have understood the immense value that this model brings. It has, in fact, scrapped its deal with Netflix and launching its own subscription-based video on-demand service next year.
AI and machine learning are yet to be widely adopted by movie companies around the world. This is due to the fact that they don’t fully understand them. Filmmakers who do understand AI have already started using elements of machine learning and deep learning in very specific areas such as editing and performance.
The movie industry in Hollywood and other parts of the world is growing at a fast pace year after year. According to Box office Mojo, the number of movies released in Hollywood last year totalled to a whopping 873. This number is only going to keep increasing in the future. Therefore, it’s important for movie studios to cater to every moviegoer by truly understanding their needs and expectations. Success is going to knock at the door of those companies who are able to achieve this feat. This is where technologies like AI will play a crucial role in building robust customer relationships.
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