The Oscar for Best Visual Effects Goes To: AI

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The next breakout star in Hollywood might be an AI named Arraiy.

Arraiy is a computer vision and machine learning platform specifically designed for film and television effects.

Arraiy’s creators are training the system to rotoscope — the process of separating certain parts of footage from the background (for example) separating an actor from the green screen behind them) with years’ worth of human-created visual effects as training tools.

The ultimate goal, though, is to do it more quickly and cheaply than humans can, and just as effectively. Rotoscoping by hand can take dozens of hours, but Arraiy can do it in a fraction of the time. This gives a filmmaker a chance to see how a finished scene could look before they even leave the set. That allows films to dedicate many fewer resources to the effects, eliminating the need to reshoot scenes repeatedly if the effects aren’t quite right.

So far, Arraiy has been used to make one short film (“The Human Race”) and one music video (The Black Eyed Peas’ “Street Livin’”).

Arraiy isn’t the only company looking to bring AI to the world of special effects. Adobe, along with other software companies, are doing the same, the New York Times reports. But Arraiy may be in a position to dominate; the company just raised $ 10 million in funding.

“Our aim is make movies better, cheaper, and faster to produce by empowering creators with a practical machine learning based workflow,” Ethan Rublee, co-founder and CEO of Arraiy, said in a press release.

“We’re filmmakers, scientists, roboticists, and engineers; and we’re passionate about the opportunity to bring all of these disciplines together as we reimagine the process of making movie magic.”

The post The Oscar for Best Visual Effects Goes To: AI appeared first on Futurism.

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This is what it’s like to miss out on a Best Picture Oscar

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Real talk from “Get Out” producer Jason Blum.

What’s it like to have a realistic chance to win the Oscar for Best Picture and not win?

There are only a handful of people who can answer that question. One of them is Jason Blum, the producer behind “Get Out.” And he shared it with me and and a live audience yesterday, at Vox Media’s The Deep End outpost at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

The short version: Blum says he had convinced himself he was going to win. So not winning came as a rude shock.

Slightly longer version: The reason Blum had convinced himself he was going to win was that he had practiced his acceptance speech, over and over and over, so he wouldn’t flub things if he did win. (I got to see one of his dry runs, recorded on his iPhone. It was good! He should share it with everyone.)

One of the reasons Blum is great to talk to — in addition to the fact that he has a really interesting and successful approach to moviemaking — is that he is great to talk to. He always wants to contribute more to the conversation.

Here Blum offers some more real talk about what it’s like to not win, even though director and screenwriter Jordan Peele did win an Oscar for his original screenplay. If you’re impatient, skip ahead to the 44-second mark:

If you like listening to people have this kind of conversation in podcast form, you are in luck. We’ll have this one up on Recode Media later this week, or you can watch the full interview below.


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Guillermo del Toro wins Best Director and Best Picture Oscar for The Shape of Water

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Sunday night at the 90th annual Academy Awards, Guillermo del Toro’s swoony merman fantasy The Shape of Water took home the awards for Best Directing and Best Picture. Previously in the evening, the film also won for Original Score and Production Design. The film’s four wins came out of a slate of 13 overall nominations for the film.

In his Best Directing acceptance speech, the Mexico-born filmmaker followed the lead of many other winners, immediately pivoting to issues of diversity and inclusion. “I am an immigrant,” he said, name-checking Salma Hayek, Gael García Bernal, and several other Mexican artists who were present in the room. “And in the last 25 years, I’ve been living in a country all of our own. Part of it is here, part of it…

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Netflix wins an Oscar for sports doping documentary ‘Icarus’

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Netflix didn't take home any Oscars for its critically beloved film, Mudbound, but it did get a win for Icarus, an explosive documentary about the Russian sports doping scandal. The doc, directed by Bryan Fogel, premiered at Sundance last year, after…
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Sam Rockwell wins best supporting actor Oscar for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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The 90th annual Academy Awards kicked off with the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, and Sam Rockwell took home the award for his work as a corrupt police officer in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It was the first win of the evening for the film, which came into the show with a total of seven nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress for star Frances McDormand.

The Best Actor category was in many ways a showcase for Three Billboards, with both Rockwell and co-star Woody Harrelson nominated for their work in the film. Richard Jenkins’ performance in the Guillermo del Toro film The Shape of Water was also nominated, as was Christopher Plummer for his performance — as a last-minute Kevin…

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Valentine’s Day hits, Oscar winners, and other movies on sale in iTunes right now

Apple on Tuesday updated its iTunes Store with new promotions on movies and other content. This week’s deals include several Valentine’s Day hits, Oscar-winning films, and select Marvel and DC movies like Deadpool and the Dark Knight trilogy. Check out the full list below…. Read the rest of this post here


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Apple offers $19.99 bundles, discounts Oscar winners in iTunes Store ahead of the 90th Academy Awards

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In preparation for the 90th Academy Awards in March, Apple has updated the iTunes Store with a variety of discounts for films that have previously won an Oscar, including $ 19.99 movie bundles based on the categories they triumphed within, as well as numerous others available to buy for less than $ 10 each.
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$10 Oscar winners, $20 bundles and other movie deals in iTunes right now

Apple has updated its iTunes Store with deals on Oscar Award-winning films. A number of hits have been discounted to $ 10 and there are several 4-movie bundles that cost just $ 20 for a limited time. Check out the full list below…. Read the rest of this post here


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Oscar nominations 2018: Three Billboards vs. The Shape of Water

The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards were announced early this morning by Girls Trip’s Tiffany Haddish and War for the Planet of the Apes’ Andy Serkis. The nominations hue pretty close to the expectations set by this month’s Golden Globes, with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri netting seven nominations (including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress). The Shape of Water is the most-nominated film, with 13 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and a slew of technical and visual awards. Dunkirk is a close second with eight nods — largely in technical categories, but also for Best Picture and Best Director.

Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird is nominated five times, and…

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A Virtual Reality Film Experience Just Received the First Oscar for VR

Immersion as Art

One of modern cinema’s most accomplished auteurs, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, has just added yet another Oscar to his growing collection of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences accolades. For the first time in the history of the Academy, a virtual reality film experience has been recognized with an award from the prestigious institution.

The director, known for films like Birdman and The Revenant, has created a conceptual virtual reality (VR) installation, entitled CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The exhibit’s website describes the six-and-a-half-minute piece as an exploration of the human condition of immigrants and refugees.

Based on true accounts, the superficial lines between subject and bystander are blurred and bound together, allowing individuals to walk in a vast space and thoroughly live a fragment of the refugees’ personal journeys.

Iñárritu explains that he used VR to break the established dichotomy of traditional cinema. His use of VR is “…an attempt to break the dictatorship of the frame, within which things are just observed, and claim the space to allow the visitor to go through a direct experience walking in the immigrants’ feet, under their skin, and into their hearts.”

A heart divided between "U.S." and "T.H.E.M." from Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Oscar-winning virtual reality film experience.
Image credit: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

The Academy does not have a specific category for VR, so its board of directors voted to present a special award to Iñárritu. The last time such an award was bestowed was to the groundbreaking animated film Toy Story, which eventually lead to the creation of a specific category for animated films.

Perhaps this bodes well for the medium in the near future. Last year’s Animated Short category featured a nomination for a VR short called Pearl. These events signal a rapidly expanding appreciation for the emerging technology.

Future of Cinema

From the dazzling visual effects of pioneers like Ray Harryhausen, to today’s multimillion-dollar motion capture technologies, filmmakers have readily embraced new technologies. This openness has expanded the capabilities of these artists to tell stories in previously impossible ways. Even more, emerging technologies are not only changing what we’re watching, but also how we consume content.

Silver Logic Labs is a company which uses artificial intelligence to analyze human reactions as they consume media, including movies. The system can generate data based on facial expressions, including micro-expressions, for analysis. This could develop into a powerful marketing tool for the movie business. 

VR, AR, And MR: What’s The Difference? [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Artificial intelligence has also begun to blur the lines of creative expression, joining humanity in creating art. Last year, IBM’s Watson AI created a movie trailer for the science fiction film Morgan. AIs have also been enlisted to write creatively, including a short film starring David Hasselhoff and even an attempt to finish the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, the novels on which HBO’s Game of Thrones is based.

Granted, these attempts are not about to win any Oscars or literary award; however, they are indicative of a possible paradigm shift. Humans may not hold their monopoly on creativity indefinitely. In particular, VR is a much more established technology while still being a relatively new medium. We can expect much more innovation through VR, and perhaps many more accolades, in its promising future.

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