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Disney Creates Auto-Edit Algorithm to Rough Cut Footage

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Disney may be known for the cool animated films we all grew up on, as well as films like Marvel’s?Guardians of the Galaxy and now, Star Wars, and of course, those theme parks. But they’ve also got a kind of skunk works division called Disney Research, which does serious research on technology that can advance the industry or make the recording of every day events far more watchable. And that’s what Auto-Edit is really about.

Auto-Edit, or Automatic Editing, has the selfie generation in mind. As people begin to chronicle their daily lives with first person cameras and live video streaming, or just capturing that Instagram or Vine moment, they often want to put those memories together into a more long form, watchable clip. And they can do that with Auto-Edit. It’s an algorithm that chooses the most interesting part of the clip in single event by evaluating how the camera is focused on the subject. It also chooses clips based on best quality, angle, and even lighting. It can even cut between multiple cameras by estimating the 3D area between all cameras and applying rules of cinematography to define valid cuts. It’ll even reject a clip based on the 180 degree rule or jump-cuts. Auto-Edit then assembles them all together in a longer clip. Using a cut-on-action theme, it can create a smoother cut that tells a story.

The video below shows how Aut0-Edit is able to take video footage from a team of basketball players who are all wearing head mounted GoPro’s. Auto-Edit evaluates every image and creates a flowing clip that focuses on the action and keeps it in frame. It’ll even keep aspect ratio and zoom consistent. And to drive the point that Auto-Edit can provide professional level results, Auto-Edit is compared to a cut by a professional editor and it ends up being a very similar clip.

“The resulting videos might not have the same narrative or technical complexity that a human editor could achieve,” says Disney Research member Ariel Shamir, “but they capture the essential action and, in our experiments, were often similar in spirit to those produced by professionals.”? So, does this mean that editors are an endangered species? No. Not at all. But I can easily see Auto-Edit being used for on the fly set dailies in order to assemble footage to upload for evaluation by producers all around the world.

Auto-Edit also takes time, as well. The process of evaluating camera clips and assembling could take hours, and perhaps even days depending on the amount of footage. In the example, Disney Research says it took an average of 20 hours to comb through all the footage. But once done, it takes just minutes to assemble the actual edited video.

In addition to its professional dailies applications, I also think that it gives the action camera geeks, YouTubers, or even the family who is enjoying a day at Disneyland, the ability to render out professional looking video clips to share on YouTube that will keep audiences engaged and focused on the story you want to tell. And that’s really what’s important.

Disney plans on presenting the technolgy at SIGGRAPH 2014 in Canada this week. So if you’re there, swing by their booth and get close up look on how Auto-Edit works.

Hat Tip – Engadget

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