Red Shark news reports that Disney Research have:
Researchers working for the Mouse have developed a groundbreaking program that delivers automated edits from multi-camera footage based on cinematic criteria.
When you read how they’ve achieved it, I think it’s impressive, and very, very clever.
The system works by approximating the 3D space of the cameras in relation to each other. The algorithm determines the “3D joint attention,” or the likely center of activity, through an on-the-fly analysis of the multiple camera views. Based on this information, the algorithm additionally takes into account a set of cinematic preferences, such as adherence to the 180 degree rule, avoidance of jump cuts, varying shot size and zoom, maintaining minimum and maximum shot lengths, and cutting on action. The result is a very passable, almost human edit.
Perhaps it’s the very nature of research, but I’m not sure of the practical application. Maybe that’s the point of pure research.
Assuming the technology delivers, it’s rare that we want to take a multicam shoot and do a single, switched playback version. “Live switching” after the fact, if you will. At least in my experience, the edit not only needs to switch multicam angles, but to remove dross, tighten the presentation, add in additional b-roll, etc, etc.
More often than not, my angle cuts are more directed by the edit I want, than a desire to just pick the best shot at the time.
That said, this type of research is indicative of what can be done (and therefore almost certainly will be done): combine a good multicam edit, with content metadata and perhaps you’d have a decent first pass, that could be built on, finished and polished by the skilled editor. The point being, as Larry Jordan points out is
How do you save time every step of the production process, so that you’ve got the time that you need to make your films to your satisfaction.
Ultimately the commercial versions of these type of technologies should be seen as tools editors can use to make more time for their real job: finessing, polishing and finishing the project; bringing it heart that makes the human connection in storytelling.