Hang on to your Tomatometers: Can algorithms direct movies?

Bots can write, direct, act, and generate sound effects. But Rotten Tomatoes won’t be giving them fresh scores quite yet.

August 20, 2020

We’re obsessed with GPT-3, the bot that can write music, pitch business ideas… and make Hustle writers sweat.

The buzzy AI tool has enough creative chops that an article it wrote went viral last week.

But if you want to know what’s next for AI art, OneZero has a crazier proposal: Can an algorithm write, direct, and star in a movie?

Some aficionados are already trying it

In 2018, the BAFTA-nominated director Oscar Sharp teamed up with an AI expert to create the ~7-minute film Zone Out.

The AI had to think up the props, dialogue, and stage direction.

Our review? The final product isn’t terrible — but Ars Technica was right when it noted that it “teeters on the edge of inanity and emotion.”

Bots can (sort of) handle some Hollywood gigs

  • Writer: A neural network penned the script for the 2016 film Sunspring. Other bots have crafted scenes for “Batman.”
  • Director: The scientist David Carlson has twice taught computers to turn scripts into visual scenes. But he admitted to OneZero that bots aren’t so good at preserving that pesky “logical consistency.”
  • Sound engineer: A program called AutoFoley can make noises — like glass shattering — so realistic that most humans think they’re real.
  • Actor: A production team is giving a robot named Erica acting lessons — she’s set to star in a $70m sci-fi blockbuster.
  • Dubber: Adobe is using AI to help humans sync their cartoons to dialogue.

And bots are making movie trailers 

In 2016, IBM supercomputer Watson stitched together a trailer for the sci-fi film Morgan.

Researchers fed it 100 examples. The cuts of the movie’s bioengineered being totally creeped us out.

Now Netflix wants in. Last July, the company started training bots to look for trailer-ready clips.

Here’s hoping someone will hire GPT-3 to fix the worst part of the film industry: Awards speeches.

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