With a normal camera, you would need to reshoot the same scene with three different focus and aperture settings to capture the three images above. With Lytro’s Cinema camera, you only need to take one picture and then tell a computer what parts of the scene you want in focus and which ones you don’t, as it captures the image in 3D instead of the 2D of a regular camera. You can also completely remove or add background from a certain depth, essentially making even green screens obsolete. With technology like Lytro’s, cinematographers will again have to relearn what the job entails. And if we know greedy studios, that job will entail them learning how to say “Do you want fries with that?” without bursting into tears.
Post-Production Will Be Done By AI
Eventually, film sets will be nothing more than Tom Cruise shadowboxing in the Universal basement, with someone filling in the blanks three months later. Except by that time, even that someone will almost certainly also be a computer.
Post-production, or just “post” if you’re the type who thinks shooting one student short makes you part of show business (or just “showbiz”), encompasses a lot of different things. One aspect is the addition of sound effects, which ranges from T-Rex roars and lightsaber whooshes to mundane stuff like leaves rustling and doors closing. Researchers at MIT decided to see if they could teach a computer to match up sound effects with certain on-screen actions, and what do you know, it worked! Their little silicon-powered editor automatically added sound effects to a series of video clips, and human test subjects were unable to tell the difference between the computer’s work and authentically recorded sounds.
Editing is on its way to being automated as well. It’s an expensive process, making a masterpiece out of miles of film (or hundreds of hard drives) which show the same actor mispronounce the word “spoon” 20 times in a row. Naturally, filmmakers are keen to find cheaper ways to do it. In 2014, a group of researchers working for Disney published a paper on an automatic editing algorithm they created. By calculating the 3D position of the cameras in a scene, computers were able to determine what the cameras were focusing on and used that information, along with some basic filmmaking rules, to determine when to cut to different shots. Here’s a sample video filmed using some smartphones and GoPros:
But this isn’t just for editing your snowboarding fails or sex tapes. In 2016, the producers of the horror movie Morgan decided to outsource their trailer to Watson, the IBM supercomputer that made Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings look like the guy you skip over when picking a team for bar trivia night. Specifically, they wanted to it to be scary, so IBM had to teach Watson about fear, and what humans in particular fear. Then they fed it the movie, which is about an AI that becomes too scary for humans so they try to destroy it, and told Watson to make us shit our pants.
We can’t help but notice that this trailer contains neither a bathtub nor a piano.
It might not be perfect, but for a first attempt, Watson still has a disturbingly good grasp on what gives humans the absolute heebie-jeebies. So thanks to Morgan, we now have an advanced computer intelligence that knows how to manipulate human emotions. But hey, it saved some editor a day’s work, so all in all, a fair trade.
When he’s not teaching Watson how to produce constant low-level anxiety in humans, Chris plays piano in the bathtub on Twitter.
Also check out 5 Automated Jobs That Seem To Suggest We’re Trolling Robots and 5 Real Robots Who Totally Suck At Their Job.
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