An autonomous AI engine that arranges and edits film in continuous real time. Putting this computer program in the editor’s seat opens new doors to innovative ways of filmmaking.
Artificial intelligence is widely used in the production and distribution of films, with algorithms “deciding” when to release them to maximize audience size. Computers running hundreds, if not thousands, of scripts know in advance whether a film is going to be a hit or a flop. Statistically, AI can predict box office success three times more accurately than humans, and that includes highly experienced producers.
Based on never used footage, shot by twice Oscar-nominated director James Longley, depicting the life and trials of Pakistani orphans, the team trained an AI to edit and assemble an artistic documentary, which raises questions about what makes a film human and how we may collaborate with deep learning algorithms to expose new truths about our world. Reflector is the next step in the integration of AI into the film industry.
RNDR developed the Reflector installation to show a glimpse of the potential role of machines in documentary and arthouse film production, and to find common ground for dialogue among filmmakers about the future of film as an art form. The initial outcomes were presented as an interactive installation at IDFA DocLab 2019. Reflector is part of the larger research project Kaspar initiated by Piotr Winiewicz, authored by Piotr Winiewicz and Dawid Gorny and produced by Mads Damsbo, Makropol.
The installation visualises how an AI chooses the different scenes as a dynamic treemap with indications of how the different scenes scoreon certain parameters. Visitors can also influence the edit of the documentary by changing three different parameters (shot length, shot colour, shot framing) on a touch screen. These three parameters stand for the total about 30 different parameters that are used to classify the scenes.
BACKGROUND ON THE CINEMATOGRAPHY
Piotr Winiewicz acquired the rights to use more than 60 hours of pristine material shot in Pakistan in 2010 and 2011 by James Longley. Longley intended to tell the story of a country torn by war and an everlasting domestic and international conflict, through the eyes of the young boys of a forgotten orphanage. The raw material is rich, characterized by beautiful cinematography by Longley.
He envisioned the project as a feature length film, but following American CIA agent Ryan Davis’ scandal, events took a different turn. All American citizens were sent away from Pakistan including the director, who never got to finish shooting his film. The existing material is nevertheless ideal for a shortformat documentary. When looking at the raw material shot by James Longley in Pakistan we immediately see the footages potential to assemble into an important film. A film that could give us an inside look at Pakistan. We believe in the idea that if you can understand some part in detail, it makes it easier to comprehend the complexity of the whole. Longley wanted to reconstruct the internal world of the orphans at Faizul Islam as a cinematic experience, and through their perspective to make a film that would bring audiences closer to understanding Pakistan as a society by seeing some part of it in detail.
We share his ambition for the film and acknowledge the fact that due to economical, political reasons and significantly complex film production processes, some films and their stories remain untold. It is a chance to tell a relevant story and pay respect to the hard work of the filmmaker and at the same time reveal an innovative approach to documentary filmmaking.
Piotr Winiewicz, Dawid Gorny,RNDR
Rasmus Ravn Frost, Esbern Torgard Kaspersen
Rebekka Bohse Meyer
2019 Film Fund DocLab Interactive Grant
Nominated Immersive Non-Fiction competition
IDFA Competition for Creative Use of Archive