Artificial intelligence (AI) is making its way into numerous industries. In the healthcare field, AI is helping doctors diagnose patients and choose treatment plans. Financial AI is predicting stock market fluctuations and helping people manage their investments. In the education sector, AI is determining how well a student has understood a concept and guiding them to improve comprehension. How is it impacting cinema?

First, it’s important to note that AI isn’t about replacing humans. It’s about streamlining mundane, easily programmable tasks so that humans can do what they do best: create, think critically, and work on complex issues. In the film industry, creatives are thriving thanks to bots taking over simple tasks like enhancing visual effects or suggesting which studio should buy the rights to a film. AI is also making an impact off-set, in everything from film marketing to how celebrities will choose projects.

Personalized Streaming

Most of us have already experienced depictions of AI in the film industry, but real AI has played a major role in how we select what we watch. If you’ve ever watched Netflix or Hulu and flipped through the suggested TV shows and movies, you’ve interacted with their AI algorithm. Streaming sites use data collection and smart algorithms to offer customers what they’d be most interested in, delivering a personalized experience and keeping customers satisfied with the selection.

Similar AI has been used to provide high-quality streaming even across poor internet connections. Netflix teamed up with two universities to create the Dynamic Optimizer, a machine learning process that compresses video (compressed video is easier to process) without affecting quality. This benefits both customers and the Netflix brand since customers won’t cancel their Netflix account due to low-quality streaming.

Visual Effects

AI isn’t exactly replacing jobs as much as it is requiring new specialists. For example, old-school visual effects artists may not find as much work as before if they haven’t worked with AI. That doesn’t mean the number of jobs is disappearing — just that requirements have changed. Today, a visual effects specialist will have the engineering skills necessary to design and program algorithms so that software can do things like make a digital character look more realistic.

An example of how AI is used for visual effects can be seen in “Avengers: Infinity War.” Josh Brolin, who plays the character, Thanos, had scans of his face taken so that visual effects artists and the algorithm could track his expressions in high detail. The scanned face was then rendered onto the character’s body using AI, which was then finalized by the animators.

Film Marketing

AI has its place on the marketing and advertising end of things too. In this case, AI works as a content creator, pulling images, text, and video information from a film and suggesting ad and marketing campaign layouts. Humans are still needed to tweak, approve, and finalize designs, but the brainstorming stage of the process can be handled by AI. Even if the AI-created campaigns don’t end up being used, they could offer marketers new perspectives or ideas they wouldn’t have thought of on their own. It’s like having another creative on the marketing team.

The collaboration of AI and marketing departments can be seen in the promotion for the movie “Morgan” from 20th Century Fox. Watson, an AI system from IBM, analyzed audio, composition and visual moments from 100 horror films to decide which types of moments should be put into a horror movie trailer. Within one day, Watson had built a six-minute trailer for Morgan, something that would’ve taken several weeks to produce otherwise.

Celebrity Licensing

It’s possible that AI could lead to future movie sets having more engineers and fewer actors. Some films, like Star Wars, don’t even use human actors for some roles, instead creating 100 percent computer-generated “humans.” According to Nick Bilton of Vanity Fair, this could lead to a new future for celebrities. An actor could give a movie studio licensing rights to use their 3D image, allowing the actor to appear in the movie without ever actually being on set. That may open the door to actors who are no longer with us acting once again in new movies — imagine watching a 21st-century movie starring Marilyn Monroe.

Final Thoughts

Ironically, AI in the film industry is providing us with a future we used to only see in movies. In some ways, the outlook is promising. Bilton feels that there may come a day when we can sit down after a long week and tell our TV precisely the type of movie we want to watch and actually get that exact movie to watch on the spot.

What do you want to see from streaming services and production companies in order to have a better experience at the movies? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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