Sony Patent Will Allow AI Clone To Play Games For You, What’s Next, Watching Movies For You?

The title might sound hyperbolic, perhaps even ridiculous, but think again. AI clones, we don’t need them for entertainment, right? The following game-related patent sounds appealing, but think about it more carefully.

The patent also points out that games may be able to flag if a player needed AI help to beat a task. “If the AI character has completed specific tasks, those tasks can be identified as being completed by the user with assistance from the AI game controller,” it explains.

Another example given is online multiplayer co-op games, where a player may need to leave the game to eat or work. In this situation, instead of the game having to end, the player can turn on the ‘automatic mode’ and have the AI play with their friends in their absence until they can return to take over again.

Sony has patented an AI that will play your games for you

A major part of the satisfaction in gaming is beating your previous best score, reaching new game levels, beating an end boss. These all require your own skills. That all goes out the window if someday you can have your AI clone buddy sub out your gameplay.

If we have AI clones that can sub for us when we’re eating, it’s not too far-fetched to suggest the AI clone will do other tasks we don’t have time for like, yeah, read books, watch movies. Imagine tasking your AI clone with catching up on the new Stephen King book because you don’t want to sit down and experience it yourself, or sit through the 10 episode TV season or, gasp, watch the newest movie so you don’t have to spend the two plus hours. Your AI clone could report back what you might have thought of it, because it knows you so well.

I’m one of the most tech-friendly guys out there, but don’t want an AI clone to do any of the things mentioned above. I want to experience human created art directly and personally, not through some sort of artificial proxy. I don’t like using the word “never” but here it fits: never.

Now, what I might be interested in is playing against an AI clone in a game. We are already doing this in some games, I’m sure. What tougher computer opponent could there be than one that plays like you do? But, um, it’s a big N-O to having an AI clone someday experience entertainment for me.

Then again, maybe someday my AI clone will write these posts. Why not?

No Time To Die Release Delays Might Require Pickup Shots For Outdated Technology Newer Product Placement

More fallout from repeated delaying movies like James Bond #25 is Bond is supposed to be using the newest, greatest tech gadgets. Product placement is an additional revenue source for the filmmakers to increase revenue.

But what happens when a film is delayed so long that the advertising window not longer syncs up with the movie release date?

Product placement is a surefire way to excite your fans, sell some merch, and offset a massive budget, should your film cost something in the ballpark of $200+ million to make. As No Time To Die is the most expensive Bond film to date, and the delays to the movie’s theatrical release cost roughly $1 million for ever month shelved, now’s not the time to be upsetting your sponsors. So it wouldn’t be surprising if Daniel Craig and the rest of the cast were to reassemble, in order to get some pickup shots of a sweet new Nokia phone being used in the field.

No Time To Die Might Have To Go Into Reshoots For A Very Unique Reason – CINEMABLEND

Is Nokia going to pony up more dough for these pickup shots or because MGM is responsible for the delays, will they just have to eat them? Reshots can become very expensive, especially if visual effects work is required.

This is a new wrinkle, however, in the ongoing game of movie delays. Someday we will finally get to see Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond. Someday.

Right Now Who Really Cares About ATSC 3.0 Live in Seattle?

Snark alert. I’m having a hard time getting excited about shiny new broadcast tech.

Sadly, Seattle have many homeless at nearly every highway underpass and it becomes one of the first cities to adopt ATSC 3.0 brining over the air 4K programming.

ATSC 3.0 is now live in Seattle, with seven stations broadcasting with the NextGen TV transmission standard. The local stations that are now transmitting with ATSC 3.0 include KOMO-TV (ABC), KIRO-TV (CBS), KCPQ (Fox), KING-TV (NBC), KONG (Ind.), KZJO (MyNet) and KUNS-TV (Univision). The list includes all of Seattle’s major broadcasters.

ATSC 3.0 is Live in Seattle | Cord Cutters News

If you’re wondering what ATSC 3.0 is, it’s basically the newest version of cabling specs, allowing higher speeds and increased quality for all these new 4K and soon 8K televisions.

It’s great to know Seattle — the hotbed of COVID-19 in our state — wants to focus on improving technology, keeping our flagship city on the cutting edge of tech, but, seriously, who is pushing for this ATSC 3.0 standard right now?

Priorities, priorities. Maybe I’ve got this wrong, feel free to vent in the comments if you’re ecstatic that TV stations are upgrading to ATSC 3.0.

I’ve sat on this for a couple weeks, mulling over if this even was worth posting, but it does give me a chance to point out that if you’re visiting Seattle any time soon, you’ll see homeless people everywhere in addition to enjoying ATSC 3.0, if you even want to watch our local TV channels.

Curved OLED Gaming Monitor to Debut at CES 2021

Lots of questions on this monitor tech.

As a techie, I used to attend CES and write extensively about my findings at this amazing conference. Due to the pandemic, 2021 will not be an in-person conference, instead a virtual conference. I’m not sure that type of conference works not being able to see the tech in person vs. online, but that’s a whole other topic.

Let’s talk curved monitors. I’ve been fascinated by this space and how watching movies on current screens might provide 3D-like properties.

Watching movies on a curved monitor? Will this be videogames-only useful or will there be non-interactive content on these high tech bendable screens?

In addition to several transparent OLED demos, LG Display will also be showing off a gaming-related concept product at its CES 2021 virtual showroom: a 48-inch 4K “Bendable CSO (Cinematic Sound OLED) display” that can switch between a flat screen and a curved screen. The idea here is that you can enjoy watching videos in flat screen mode, and at the press of a button, the monitor morphs into a curved screen — up to 1,000mm radius — for more immersive gaming.

LG will demo a ‘bendable’ OLED gaming monitor at CES 2021 | Engadget

How ‘bendable’ will these screens become? I think once they are able to wrap to extreme angles, we’ll see something like Regal Cinemas Screen X technology for movies (see: Is ScreenX the Perfect Way to Watch Ford v Ferrari?)

The whole idea of projecting an image on a flat wall isn’t as exciting to me as an actual screen, especially one that doesn’t have to be completely flat. Talk about real contours, real 3D, oh, the possibilities.

Admittedly, it’s going to be a very small subset of directors — like James Cameron — that would enjoy playing around with a non-flat surface providing creative possibilities.

When the pandemic is over, or at least mostly over, maybe it will be something different like this that piques the curiosity of moviegoers into coming back. Theaters need to keep an eye on tech and do whatever they can to make the cinema experience have bells and whistles that aren’t easily replicated at home. This is one clear and obvious way to remain a different experience.

How Netflix Studies and Correlates Viewing Behavior To Determine Future Content Creation Decisions

What is linked and quoted below is a fascinating, although very technical, document discussing how Netflix currently studies and makes future content creation decisions based on existing and past viewer data.

While we’ve suggested before (see: Does Netflix Release Too Many Originals? Maybe Ask New CMO Bozoma Saint John) that Netflix seems to throw a lot of their originals at the wall to see what sticks, it’s much more calculated than that. Depending on how geeky and technical you are, the article linked below could be illuminating into their process.

Making great content is hard. It involves many different factors and requires considerable investment, all for an outcome that is very difficult to predict. The success of our titles is ultimately determined by our members, and we must do our best to serve their needs given the tools and data we have. We identified two ways to support content decision makers: surfacing similar titles and predicting audience size, drawing from various areas such as transfer learning, embedding representations, natural language processing, and supervised learning. Surfacing these types of insights in a scalable manner is becoming ever more crucial as both our subscriber base and catalog grow and become increasingly diverse.

Supporting content decision makers with machine learning | by Netflix Technology Blog | Dec, 2020 | Netflix TechBlog

To simplify at least some of what I understood — and I’m a very geeky, technical guy — they group story ideas together to find likeness and related types of content. It’s like a Google related search for keywords, using the framework of the stories and then instead of search results, it will yield the type of stories that specific viewing audience will be more likely to watch and enjoy.

Of course it’s not only watching once or few a few seconds, what type of content are viewers repeatedly watching. What are the demographics behind these viewers?

Combine all of these characteristics and an algorithm is developed to be able to predict what types of stories in what age groups in what geographic regions will yield successful results.

None of this guarantees a hit movie or TV show, of course, but it does increase the odds that a high percentage of viewers will watch a certain type of story.

This all reminds me of some fiction writing software that broke down conflicts between characters into types. You could mix and match story types and characters and essentially have a bare bones framework for a type of story. Then you just need to sit down and write the story based on the sequence of actions and events in the computer generated outline. It was all too wooden for me, too structured, that I never used it, but found it interesting.

Does it work? Just saying if you like Diehard, then you’ll like other movies like Diehard? Sure, on a very basic level, it does, but there have been a bunch of Diehard clones and only one Diehard to date. Not even Diehard sequels have been able to catch the lightning in the bottle of the first film.

Studios try to do something similar by remaking and rebooting movies and TV shows that did well in the past. They want to capitalize on the fond fan memories. It does work — until the new production has to stand on its own. Take Cobra Kai, for example, the idea would have been very gimmicky beyond the first episode or two, had it not had its own stories to tell. It did, and fans responded.

In 2020, we’re being studied by computers everywhere. What we search for, what we click on, what we open in email and what we watch on streaming channels. Maybe what will rise from the ashes of all this personal intrusion will be a service that does not study everything we do attempting to meaningfully make decisions based upon it. I mean, is this the future world we want all the time everywhere? Something tells me probably not.

Virtual Locations vs. Real Locations Should Be Reducing Budgets, Yes?

The following article makes a case for why many movie budgets are (way!) out of control.

If more green screen work can be done in virtual locations that should be saving a ton of money over visiting physical locations to shoot.

“You don’t need to hop from exotic location to exotic location for a day or two of work,” he added.  “You can plan out your sequence where you don’t have to do that. You can take advantage of the digital backlot and you can basically replicate what you can get on location. It doesn’t take long to master it, if you understand how it works, how to control it, what every set up is, how to light it, and how to color correct it.”

The Mandalorian’s Real-Time Virtual Production Saves Hollywood | IndieWire

I keep hammering on movie budgets at this blog because I believe fiscal irresponsibility contribute to less creative movies being made. Instead of getting more movies on modest to low budgets, we get fewer big budget movies where stupid cost overruns happen and studios become gunshy about “taking chances” on more creative films, simply because they are worried about the budgets.

This leads to us — movie fans — getting too much of the same, tired cycle of reboots, remakes and “known” projects. Lower budget studios and filmmakers enjoying financial success help break the cycle.

Overzealous directors can and probably are a big part of the problem here. Martin Scorsese is an amazing director, no argument there, but why can’t or won’t he make movies for lower budgets any more? See: Martin Scorsese – Great Director Struggling Staying Within Budget

James Cameron is filming four movies at one time, but still, one freaking billion dollars for four Avatar sequels? Sure, he’s one of the greatest directors ever with a proven track record but that’s an enormous amount of money budgeted to four films (see: $100+ Million Movie Budgets Are Stupid). Will we see all four films? Perhaps not in the theater, but you can bet all four will hit Disney+ at some point in the future.

Another side effect of larger budgets is the potential for crooked hands in the cookie jar.

Sadleir opened a bank account for a fake company and transferred $25 million of BlackRock’s investment that he’d claimed would be used for advertising, Department of Justice authorities said. Instead, Sadleir used $14 million from the funds to buy a Beverly Hills home.

Former Hollywood movie CEO charged with $30M fraud

Smaller, tighter budgets, please.

Some studios are known for their fiscal frugality like Blumhouse. I may not like every movie Blumhouse does, but am digging that they are fiscally responsible with their movie budgets. For that reason alone, they are among my favorite studios.

Once we come back from the pandemic, and movie theaters and studios will definitely be back, then budgets will likely be even further scrutinized.

How can we as movie fans make a difference? Keep supporting good low budget movies.

Record Labels Blaze Trail for Movie Studios and Theater Owners

Once upon a time, people bought and listened to music on a physical format or listened to their favorite song on the radio and then went to the store and bought the album. That world was upended after one too many physical formats and the rise of the internet and Napster. Apple would intervene offering the concept of buying tracks for a buck a song and that pretty much killed off buying full albums. Now, consumers could carve up filler on albums and only buy their favorites.

(vinyl records are enjoying a passionate resurgence in interest, but no idea how long this will last — hopefully a long time!)

I wrote about the movie industry needing to learn from the music industry as well as online businesses not overreacting (see: Dear Netflix, Don’t Go Napster Hunting).

Yes, the businesses aren’t exact parallels in study, but check out this quote and apply it to studios and movie theaters.

“What I said out of the gate: It’s a mindset shift,” Bell says. “I was thinking to myself, this is a whole new world for us. Let’s reinvent what we need to do. Operationally we had to shift. We’re already going into an increasingly digital world,

Record Labels Are Designing New Marketing Strategies From Scratch – Rolling Stone

I think the future of movie theaters not only will, but must involve a better sense of embracing technology than they have. There have been some little tech things like before the movies show Nuvee playing interactive games with theater patrons and Regal’s Moviebill experience where you get this interactive magazine with your phone to learn more about the movie and get some cool 3D swag.

That’s a start. More, please.

I’m a champion of using technology to enhance and improve business including marketing, customer experience and satisfaction. There’s more that theaters and studios can do, working together, instead of fighting over the — gasp! — a shortened theatrical window they should be exploring alternative options for how each side can benefit from a world with a shortened or — gasp again! — no window.

Will they do this in a post pandemic world? With no vaccine yet, we are going to have to continue to live in a current virus is out there world for many months, maybe years into the future. Businesses that embrace changes tend to stay healthy longer than those who don’t. I’m hoping movie theater owners will look at technology to help them, not see it as a threat.

We’ll see.

New Movie Streaming for Free in China creates fear of “destroying the movie industry”

Tent cities are a growing concern in society

Let’s take a moment of silence for anybody who is sick with the virus that started in China. Any outbreak causing human beings to get sick and some to die is much bigger than any movie business concerns.

That said, the two are somewhat related in this piece. A movie studio is going to stream a premiere on a free platform due at least in part to the current virus outbreak scenario in China. Theater chains, despite some of their locations being shut down at the moment due to the outbreak, are crying foul.

“This goes against the payment and revenue model that the movie industry has cultivated over many years, is trampling and intentionally destroying the movie industry and premiere models, and play a lead role in causing destruction,” said the letter, whose signatories include Wanda Film Holding, Bona Film Group, and Henan Oscar Theatre Chain.

China’s theaters, studios protest against deal to stream movie online for free | News | WTVB

Sooner or later there is going to be a MOVIES IN THEATER FOR FREE streaming channel. A legal one probably ad-supported in some way, not some torrent copyright piracy nightmare. A legit Spotify-like service for movies.

Mark my words. It. Is. Coming.

The bigger question is whether or not what happened to the music industry will happen to the movie business? Will we see fewer big budget movies being made? Absolutely. We’ll see a rise in more Youtube/indie content, lower budget films and films which exist to drive ad revenue.

I’m not saying this will be a great time for good movies. It will be like what it’s like on YouTube right now. A bunch of crap to filter through to find a few gems. There will be many, many more movies, most of them horrendously amateur and bad.

Hollywood will look more like tent city.

I know, a prediction of doom and gloom for the movie industry, but it’s inevitable that somebody is going to legalize the Spotify model for movies. It probably won’t be this year or maybe next, but it wouldn’t be a bad wager that it’s likely to happen within the next 10-20 years.

The movie business has to change and adapt, as should have the music business. Hopefully, they do better.

Let’s start the clock ticking with this post on January 25, 2020.

Need A Bathroom Break During the Movie? Runpee to the rescue

Runpee is an app

No circumstance is more dire during a movie that’s really good than a screaming bladder.

The RunPee app takes the guesswork out of this for you. We watch every wide release movie to find the best scenes you can use, if you need to run and pee.

RunPee: app that gives you the best times to run and pee during a movie.

Since many moviegoers are out there watching movies, must pass this curious little app along.

Downloaded from the Google Play store and tested it. Before you can get started in the app you have to send your email address and get a verification code– I’m assuming this is so they can occasionally harangue you to purchase more “peecoins” — it takes peecoins to use to view the times that you can leave a movie and go to the bathroom. Once registering the app you get 2 free peecoins to test it out on your movie of choice. The time it recommended seemed to be good. They must have people watching these movies looking for good places where not much is happening.

Neat service, good idea!

Update 11/23/2019 @ 3:30pm

This ad is included inside the verification email — you can buy an “Infinity Peecoin” for $20 USD … yep, that’s an ad.

After making this post, a comment made by Dan (see below) wanted to clarify that the emails are never used to sell you peecoins. See a copy of the verification email I received when signing up through the app. This verification code is required as part of the process, so yes, email is being used to sell you peecoins, at the very least indirectly. I don’t see any problem with this practice, but let’s call it what it is: an advertisement in email.