Computer as Auteur? IBM, Tribeca Contest Winner Imagines AI Auto-Generating Movie Previews Based on Scripts

Filmmakers, writers, musicians and other creative professionals have long used technology in their work. But can machines produce a kind of intelligence that helps storytellers at a deeper creative level?

That’s the premise of the IBM-sponsored “Storytellers With Watson” competition, launched in partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival. Over the last two months, the contest solicited and reviewed submissions about how media and entertainment pros can use artificial intelligence in new ways.

On Tuesday, after an all-day session at IBM’s Think Lab in New York culminating in “Shark Tank”-style pitches, the IBM and Tribeca jury selected a winner from five finalists: filmmaker and producer Seth Grossman and his “Rip-o-matic With Watson” (pictured above), which recognizes meaning in images and language for video editing to — in theory — automatically generate a sizzle-reel preview of a movie or TV pilot based on the script.

Grossman’s idea: to use AI to analyze, index and splice together “rips” from videos that represent a filmmaker’s vision. By recognizing information in images as well as finding and classifying their meaning in sets of written information, Watson would find and splice together the content that best matches the script, including specific lines, time periods, and locations.

“Ultimately, the people who will benefit the most will be the audience, because better Rip-o-matics will lead to better movies and TV shows,” Grossman wrote in submitting his idea for the contest.

The jurors selected Grossman and his “Rip-o-matic With Watson” concept “for his vision to tell a story, taking away barriers with a strong vision to push the envelope of visual recognition utilizing Watson.”

Of course, for now, the “Rip-o-matic” is just hypothetical. And even if it works as envisioned, it’s not clear how useful such an application ultimately would prove to be to filmmakers.

As the winner, Grossman will receive IBM mentorship to develop the idea and potentially launch it as a product. In addition, he’s getting a free trip for two to the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. The other finalists had proposed using IBM Watson to assist in choreography, to simplify the script-review process, to improving film marketing, and to enable real-time language translation in a VR environment.

“Technology helps all of us to find opportunities where we didn’t know it existed,” according to Rob High, IBM fellow, VP and CTO of IBM Watson. “We can use cognitive computing to help us to make better decisions.”

The “Storytellers With Watson” jury members were IBM’s High; Paula Weinstein, Tribeca EVP, creative and programming; Sharon Badal, Tribeca VP, filmmaker relations and shorts programming; and Rashmy Chatterjee, CMO, IBM North America.

The jury bestowed an honorary mention to Sadaf Amouzegar, data scientist at End Cue, for “ScriptAloud,” which would use Watson Text to Speech and Tone Analyzer to transform written scripts into audio files available for casting directors and producers (instead of having to actually read a script).

The three other contenders were: Mary John Frank’s “Watson Dance Assistance” for product dance choreography visualizations; Kevin Cornish’s “Human Conversation Project” real-time translation using Watson Language Translator; and Billee Howard’s “Watson Brand Studio Model: Powering the Content Brands of Tomorrow,” which aims to use AI to find the key elements of successful marketing campaigns based on “emotional levers.”

More Film

  • Don Edkins, documentary filmmaker

    Documentary Filmmaker Don Edkins on ‘Creating an African Voice’ 

    DURBAN–For the 10th Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry program of the Durban Intl. Film Festival, a new strand was created to look at the unique challenges and opportunities facing documentary filmmakers in Africa. The two-day program, Durban Does Docs, offers a series of conversations, seminars and workshops with an intensive focus on the aesthetics, funding, distribution [...]

  • A Faithful Man

    Film Review: 'A Faithful Man'

    French actor Louis Garrel has been married twice, first to Iranian talent Golshifteh Farahani, and now to model-cum-actress Laetitia Casta. He has also directed two features, the first a free-wheeling love-triangle comedy called “Two Friends” in which Garrel plays the cad who comes between his best friend and the object of his obsession (played by [...]

  • LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With

    LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With Documentary About Gay Porn Shops Circus of Books

    Granted, the red carpet at the opening night of Outfest in DTLA may not have been the most star-studded but it was without a doubt the most diverse, inclusive and, yes, fabulous. “I’ve never been here before,” admitted “RuPaul’s Drag Race” vet Trixie Mattel, who stars in the documentary “Moving Parts.” “It’s supposed to be [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Russ Tamblyn's Career Had Legs After Childhood

    With an acting career that spans work for Cecil B. DeMille and Joseph Losey to Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, Russ Tamblyn’s creativity and longevity is proof that there’s life after child stardom. In Tamblyn’s case, there’s also been a bounty of juicy film and TV roles long after his legendary legs no longer kicked [...]

  • Olivia Wilde Booksmart Director

    Film News Roundup: Olivia Wilde to Direct Holiday Comedy for Universal

    In today’s film news roundup, Olivia Wilde has landed another directing gig following “Booksmart” and revenge thriller “Seaside” and “Woodstock: The Directors Cut” get August release dates. PROJECT LAUNCH Olivia Wilde will direct and produce an untitled holiday comedy project for Universal Pictures with her “Booksmart” partner Katie Silberman. Universal outbid five other studios for [...]

  • Choas Charles Mansion and the CIA

    Amazon Studios Takes Film Rights to Manson-Centered Drama 'Chaos' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the grisly murders executed by the followers of Charles Manson, Amazon Studios has optioned film rights to a nonfiction title about a journalist who spent decades obsessively following the case. The studio will adapt “Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties,” from [...]

  • Sword of Trust

    Marc Maron on 'Sword of Trust,' Lynn Shelton and Conspiracy Theories

    Marc Maron has interviewed everyone from Bruce Springsteen to President Obama, so he’s probably learned a few things about being a good interview. Of course, as he points out, he generally has over an hour to talk leisurely speak with his guests in his home and draw out stories beyond the public narrative; it’s a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content