Artificial Intelligence

AI’s role in Hollywood includes CGI, dubbing and script analysis

The potentially disruptive role of artificial intelligence in Hollywood was a major reason that actors and writers went on strike for so many months (four for actors, five for writers). There are now agreed-upon rules for how AI can be used in writing and acting. But the reality is AI is already in Hollywood, and it’s doing a lot.

Take the 2015 movie “Heist” starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Robert De Niro. It’s the story of a guy who robs a casino to pay for his daughter’s medical treatment. Scott Mann directed the film.

“And it was when I saw the foreign dubs of the movie that dubbing involves changing all the dialogue. It involves a complete different type of performance, and it all doesn’t sync up, so it’s anonymous,” Mann said. “It’s kinda a mess.”

Fast-forward to today. He’s helped build Flawless, a company that uses AI to make it look like an actor is speaking a foreign language, so the actor’s mouth matches the voice-over lines.

“It really learns how the actors have performed and how they speak, and essentially it’s re-rendering a version that adjusts the lip synchronicity, but without touching the performance itself,” Mann said.

AI is also being used to make computer-generated imagery faster and less expensive. Nikola Todorovic is co-CEO of Wonder Dynamics. His company’s AI analyzes video to create CGI graphics around or over actors, effects that normally require lots of equipment, data, time and money to produce.

“We really built this on top of self-driving car and robotics technology,” he said. “When you think about self-driving cars, they have to understand the world around them through the lens of a camera.”

Todorovic said cutting the cost of CGI will make it more accessible to filmmakers with lower budgets.

“You’re gonna see a lot of indie filmmakers that are making films that are big spectacles but a bit more grounded in the storytelling,” he said.

Some AI works on movies before they’re ever made. “We’re able to predict the audience’s reactions and the success of a project from script stage,” said Monica Landers, CEO of StoryFit.

Using hundreds of models, her AI can also analyze a script in great detail.

“Why doesn’t this scene resonate? Is it because of the character strength, is it the lack of motivation, is it the pacing? So we get really granular,” Landers said.

One thing all of these Hollywood AI companies have in common is that their tools aren’t designed to replace actors, directors or writers — they’re meant to help them.

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