The present and future of post production business and technology

Speaking at Entertainment & Artificial Intelligence Event in Montreal

Lumberjack System isn’t exactly leading the research in Artificial Intelligence, although we use Machines for Speech-to-text in Lumberjack Builder NLE, and are constantly researching ways to make your workflows smoother. In my life as a technologist (aka, one of my goals is to alert my fellow editors and producers, concerning the technology changes that are coming, with enough time for people to ensure the integrity of their own career.

It was in that capacity and after my deep dive into the subject last year on my blog which resonated with the organizers, I was approached toward the end of last year to present a Keynote address at the inaugural Entertainment and Artificial Intelligence conference and community launch event in Montreal. I was flattered. 

I was less enthralled to find the conference was in February! To my delight the conference was rescheduled for Jun 14 and 15 when the weather was much more to my liking.

The conference venue – OASIS Immersion within Palais des Congrès – was itself quite the amazing space with constantly moving visuals on all walls and the floor. From a speaker’s point of view, it’s unusual to see so much movement in front of our eyes.

When I speak I normally accompany the presentation with visually interesting slides in a Keynote presentation, and I’d planned to repeat that pattern again. Just before leaving I learned that there were technical limitations on their end, and I decided I’d present without accompanying slides. I can’t recall presenting without slides before.

The presentation went better without slides! That’s a lesson for me in the future: consider setbacks to be an opportunity to do something new.

At the start, I explained how AI had both delighted and surprised me, and, in equal parts that it had disappointed, because in the visual processing area we have amazing technologies. Extracting relevant keywords in Lumberjack Builder still remains a future goal. Some nine years ago I predicted it would only be 2-3 years before that would happen. Oops.

From there, I shared some examples that showed the scope of AI and Machine Learning already embedded within Entertainment. With every major studio using AI to vet scripts for profitability, to ML “sports journalists” churning our thousands of personalized sports results articles.

Film and television production is already affected by new Machine Learning tools for upscaling, frame rate conversion, rotoscoping, voice overs and digital presenters and actors.

Machines write music, sing, create images, write stories, write code and build websites from plain language descriptions. Given that the Adult Entertainment business is often a significant factor in the success of some technologies, their interest in AI does add a certain validity.

I then focused on how these technologies have created super-smart assistants that we can work with.

For specific examples I played a short segment of Val Kilmer’s digital voice created for Mavericks. Not just a good-enough voice, but one up to the high standards of motion picture production.

Speaking of our own use of‘s avatars within Lumberjack System, I demo’d a custom greeting from Avatar Jack to the audience.

We briefly touched on the inevitable shift of some jobs to new skill sets and new workflows, before moving to the crux of the conference: bringing together the creative community, the AI community and the business community to create opportunities together. I passed the responsibility to achieve that to the people present as I finished the presentation.

As for the drama about losing the presentation? I felt it was better without the slides, which was echoed by several members of the audience. There’s a lesson there about turning a disadvantage to an advantage. I only wish I’d had the confidence of my conviction that I could do a great job without slides, because I could have left my laptop home and traveled even lighter! 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. How are you using AI, what do you see for the future? Comment below.

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