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The following essay was produced as part of the 2019 Locarno Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film critics that took place during the 72nd edition of the Locarno Film Festival.
Artificial intelligence is everywhere: It can drive a car, chat with customers, or help patients with neuronal damage to recover their potential. But if data-assisted moviemaking can help predict a movie’s outcome, what room is there left for artistic freedom? At this year’s Locarno Film Festival, Sami Arpa, CEO and co-founder of Largo Films, a startup based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and creator of the LargoAI technology, shared his insight about the evolution of this maybe-not-so-unnatural union.
Locarno - Year - Sofy - Tv - VOD
At Locarno last year to present sofy.tv, a VOD service for short films, Arpa recalled, “I was approached by industry professionals, mostly producers and distributors, who asked me if the AI developed for sofy could be used for their own purposes, to help them predict a movie’s outcome. A few directors also approached me, although they were much more skeptical at first.” Originally designed as a predictive analytics tool to help users pick the movies that would best suit their taste, Arpa set to working on an AI that’s use could be extended to support other needs of the film industry.
LargoAI relies on a database of some 30,000 movies. Following a top-down learning process, the software starts to recognize and understand repeating patterns both on a small and higher level. This means that not only are larger elements like editing, action, and music reviewed, but that a host of smaller detailed are also taken into account, such as the way characters move, their hair color, or even the objects they use. The program first understands general concepts before delving into much smaller details, at which point it becomes able to teach itself. “But one thing...
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