IBC2018: Ambition is to create ‘drag and drop’ web interface allowing programme makers to use AI to develop new forms of content

BBC senior research engineer Mike Armstrong is about to trial a prototype toolkit for AI storytelling, first unveiled at IBC last year, with a group of filmmakers.

IBC2018 Lounge Talk: Mike Armstrong

IBC2018 Lounge Talk: Mike Armstrong

The BBC R&D project is to challenge Bristol Encounters, a short film festival focusing on animation and VR, to create new narrative experiences.

“To build these experiences ordinarily you have to write code, but our ambition in creating this toolkit will be to offer a “drag and drop” web interface, allowing programme makers to use these algorithms to develop new forms of content,” Armstrong told IBC Daily.

“The aim is to use algorithms to produce storytelling experiences more like a city tour guide, which can tailor content to different individual’s level of interest or expertise and direct people down different paths.”

The BBC has been working over the past year with a team from Edinburgh University on successfully applying AI techniques to story telling metadata, with the ambition of creating personalised media experiencessuch as virtual museum guide.

“You could imagine taking a programming archive and putting together a series of 2-3 minute clips and instead of curating one path you would enable different paths to be explored by the viewer.”

“For commercialised media personalisation is all about tailoring commercial messages and selling you stuff, but for the BBC we come at it from the other end. We have the filter bubble problem – making sure that the information the storytelling gives you is tailored to the right level for you – because our aim is to inform, educate and entertain.”

“If you are an expert on a subject you probably don’t want the basic introduction but if you are not, you probably do… it’s important to start people off at the right level.”

The BBC has also been working on a personalised guide to Sissinghurst Castle and grounds based around a 360 Video which contains navigational icons.

“The AI challenges that we need to solve are getting a machine to schedule the story without repeating elements. It also needs to be companionable or to have a narrator and to introduce events and characters so that the narrative makes sense. The AI challenge is to schedule the component parts of the story in the right order.

We haven’t solved all these problems yet.”

BBC Senior R&D Engineer Mike Armstrong was taking part in an IBC Lounge Talk: From Epic Poetry to AI: Discovering viable algorithms for creating responsive media, chaired by Allan McLennan, CEO of The Padem Group.