Tribeca, IBM Launch Contest Seeking Ideas About Using Artificial Intelligence in Entertainment

Tribeca IBM Watson
Courtesy of IBM/Tribeca Film Festival

Artificial intelligence has served as fodder for the entertainment biz for decades — from the sinister computer system HAL in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” to the sentient, fleshy robots of HBO’s “Westworld.”

Now IBM has teamed with the Tribeca Film Festival to encourage filmmakers and other creators to employ AI as part of the process of making movies, video games and other entertainment content.

At the 2017 fest, IBM and Tribeca are launching the “Storytellers With Watson: A Competition for Innovation,” inviting anyone in the U.S. to submit ideas on how they would apply the tech company’s Watson data-analysis and natural-language query system to a storytelling project, such as film, video, web content, gaming, augmented reality or VR.

Submissions, which will be accepted through May 18, 2017, should include a video up to 60 seconds along with a four-page pitch. A panel comprising IBM and Tribeca reps will review the submissions, picking five finalists based on creativity, impact potential, and technical feasibility. The grand-prize winner will receive a free trip for two to the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival including airfare for two within the U.S., a hotel room in New York, and two passes to the festival. More info is available on IBM’s “Storytellers With Watson” site.

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“Since IBM Watson has been a big influence across many industries, we’re eager to see how our creative community will apply this technology to inspiring their own creative potential,” said Andrew Essex, CEO of Tribeca Enterprises.

To provide potential applicants a place to start, IBM worked with Tribeca to develop five use-case categories for using Watson: development; pre-production; production and post-production; audience experience and interaction; and marketing and distribution. For example, for screenwriting, a developer might create a script editor using Watson’s natural-language processing capabilities to read draft scripts to analyze tone, themes and other patterns a human reader might miss. In pre-production, according to IBM, someone could build a “cognitive location scout” that uses Watson Visual Recognition to analyze photos to determine a shoot location.

“Cognitive computing is driving incredible advancements in what humans and machines can do together, and one of the areas where we’re seeing this accelerate is within media and entertainment,” said David Kenny, senior VP of IBM Watson and Cloud Platform.

The judges who will pick the finalists and winner in the contest include: Paula Weinstein, EVP creative and programming, Tribeca Enterprises; Sharon Badal, Tribeca’s VP of filmmaker relations and shorts programming; and Rob High, VP and chief technology officer, IBM Watson; and Michelle Peluso, IBM’s chief marketing officer.

IBM’s Watson has been used in multiple industry sectors, including healthcare, education, retail, law and insurance. In creative fields, Watson applications have included a “cognitive music” project in collaboration with music producer Alex Da Kid and a “thinking sculpture” created with design firm SOFTlab inspired by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

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