Not content with winning Jeopardy, IBM’s Watson is back and trying its hand at making movie trailers


posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 12:30 PM EDT


The robot revolution draws ever closer, it would seem! For years now, computers have been beating us at our own games. First chess champion Garry Kasparov was defeated by IBM's Deep Blue, then the company followed up with Watson, which handily beat two of the most successful human players at Jeopardy. And even more recently, Google's AlphaGo program took on the best human players at the board game Go, and took home the prize. And hardly a day goes by without news of artificial intelligence staking its claim in another new area, whether it's in medical diagnosticsdriverless cars or perhaps even beauty contest judging.

You might think that as artistic endeavors, photography and videography would be immune. After all, while it's not an insurmountable challenge to turn driving a car or judging the proportions of a face into a mathetical endeavor, judging art -- let alone creating it -- is a much more subjective endeavor, and one in which the human mind remains untouched by its digital rival, right?

Artificial intelligence -- in the form of IBM's Watson computer -- lent a hand in creating this trailer for the movie Morgan.

If you think so, you might want to think again. With sci-fi movie Morgan out now in theaters, distributor Twentieth Century Fox was on the lookout for a clever way to promote its creation. Since the movie revolves around artificial intelligence, the company settled on the idea of creating a new trailer for the movie -- one in which the AI would be calling the shots. Once again, it was IBM's Watson which took up the challenge.

There's certainly more than a touch of marketing spin here, as Watson didn't entirely create the trailer itself -- some human assistance was still required. You might be surprised to learn, though, that the help wasn't in understanding which scenes from the movie were important enough to make it into the trailer, but rather the more menial task of editing the chosen segments into the final trailer. Or at least, that's what we inferred from a brief interview shown after the trailer Watson helped create, which you can see above. The computer was apparently perfectly capable of judging the emotional impact of scenes from the movie -- and thereby, figuring out which scenes would be best suited for use in the trailer -- all by itself!

This trailer was created entirely by humans, unlike the one above. We think it's still the better trailer, but not by as much as we'd have expected.

Above, you can see the standard trailer for the movie, created without the assistance of Watson. While we have to say that it still does a better job of giving a sense of the movie than does the AI-inspired trailer, the gap between the two is less significant than we would've expected. Had we not known ahead of time that a computer had chosen the content for the trailer, we'd certainly never have guessed it to be the case.

Does that mean the robot revolution will be here for our photography jobs imminently? Well, perhaps not, but the trailer certainly suggests that sooner or later, our camera gear may not entirely need us at the controls any more. What say you, IR readers -- would you have been able to guess that a computer was involved in creating the first trailer above, and if so, what was the giveaway? Sound off in the comments below!

(via DIY Photography)