Market research within the film industry is usually qualitative, with data being manually collated from surveys, reviews, and post-screening responses.
Disney, however, has been using technology to determine how audiences enjoy its movies, specifically creating an AI-powered algorithm that can recognise complex facial expressions and even predict upcoming emotions.
The software – which involves a method called ‘factorised variational auto encoders’ (FVAE) – captured people’s faces using infrared cameras during movie screenings including ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.
After just a few minutes of tracking facial behaviour, the algorithm was advanced enough to be able to predict when they would smile or laugh (in relation to specific moments in the movies).
Welp, well’s that’s not creepy in the slightest… :/
Dolby is constantly developing new sound and imaging technologies, and an understanding of how the brain perceives is vital to doing that effectively. “All of our products take advantage of perception in some way. Our codecs are a computational neural model which reduce information but maintain the perceptual experience by getting rid of information which I wouldn’t experience in real life.” One of the products in development is an imaging technology that can produce up to 20 thousand nits (a measure of light emitted per unit area as perceived by the human eye), as opposed to the 450-1000 nits emitted by a typical HDTV display. When Crum watched a video of fire on one of these new screens, something strange happened.
“I was watching a variety of content, all of which was producing the same amount of nits, but when the content was fire, I experienced my cheeks get warm,” Crum explains. “So I used thermal imaging cameras to track people’s faces, and there were changes when they saw flame. When we see flame in real life, our bodies are already preparing to expel heat based on the luminescence which is reaching our retina in conjunction with the fact that we know it’s fire. I ran the same test on HD displays, and you don’t see anything like this. This technology is truly creating a realistic experience by tricking the body.”
If we can create technology that can trick the body, all kinds of new sensory experiences become possible. “You don’t just want to create reality, you want to create something that’s even better. By using the synergistic effects of our senses on each other, we can amplify them so we have heightened experiences and potentially heightened emotional responses. Many species have superpowers, like bats and their ability to navigate. You can look at these species and how their brains have solved problems and use technology to create an experience that is not limited by the physical capabilities of our senses.”