The director and multimedia designer Pietro Galliano presented at the Venice Film Festival a VR-short film whose characters are controlled by machine learning algorithms. They set the motivation for the characters and make each experience of playing/viewing this interactive film unique. The project is a pure experiment, but it clearly shows where exactly the production of entertainment film will move in 10-15 years, when the algorithms and graphics will be even more perfect. The viewer will be able to interfere in the plot and interact with the characters at any time.
A short interactive film in virtual reality “Agence” (“Agency”) by Canadian film company Transitional Forms is unlikely to attract the attention of a wide audience. It belongs to an innovative category of works of art that are somewhere between video games and animated films. Its main feature is the use of machine learning algorithms to enliven characters.
“I am simply in love with artificial intelligence because I believe that AI and cinema complement each other,” said director Pietro Galliano. In 2015 he already received the world’s first Emmy for a VR movie. And now, together with the producer David Oppenheim, he is working on a new kind of narrative, which they call dynamic film, tells MIT Technology Review.
“We see Agence as a kind of dynamic film from the silent film era,” Oppenheim said. – It’s a beginning, not a blockbuster,” Oppenheim told MIT Technology Review.
“Agence debuted at the Venice Film Festival last month and is now available through the Steam gaming platform. The plot revolves around a group of creatures who want to get a mysterious plant that appeared on their planet. Will they be able to control their thirst or destabilize the planet and die? In order to know it, the viewer will have to go to the end.
Unlike other video games with a deep story, where the player can make a choice at key moments, thus directing the course of the story, in “Agence” the viewer can control the story at any point of the plot.
A certain level of interactivity comes from the AI, which controls each character. Everyone has their own tasks, and they strive to perform them as best they can. But the viewer can also intervene: with the help of VR or gamepad, he can move the characters, grow more plants and help manage the planet.
At the film festival “Agence” was warmly received – many liked this combination of history and interactivity. But gamers were cooler about the experiment. They considered the work to be a puzzle game, too short and not complicated.
However, the authors are not discouraged. They plan to cooperate with other AI developers, so that the characters have different motivations that will lead to the emergence of unique story lines. In the future, the AI can be used to generate all elements of the film, from the characters’ behavior to dialogues and scenery, they are sure.