FEED Autumn 2023 Web

FEED uncovers the creative ways vendors are taking advantage of AI, reinventing media technology as we know it

Words by Phil Rhodes

omputers have always been devices intended to take the drudgery out of everyday tasks. It hasn’t been long since

built in tools that use a degree of AI processing, calculation and internal research to support the creative user. Now in 18.5, the neural engine has dozens of features that operate like a toolset in a VFX package.” Bringing VFX-style tools to grading is significant in the world of film post-production, where it has long been theoretically possible to create more or less any image someone can describe. Using VFX techniques to fix a problem shot, though, has always been a ruinously expensive last resort, so anything which makes more advanced techniques available to colourists is likely to go down well. Lens flares might seem like old news, but Blackmagic’s new tools are an ample demonstration of how AI can bring unexpected levels of detail without demanding extensive manual intervention. Creatively, too, the feature makes a lot of sense in an industry which seems perpetually fascinated with the idiosyncrasies of lenses old and new. “A traditional lens flare you drop in as a plug- in,” Heffernan says. “And as you pan, it might have some motion. But the neural engine has a simulation of a lens flare – they’ve analysed lenses, spherical or anamorphic. It can look at the image using some of the depth map tools and simulate a real lens.”

artificial intelligence and machine learning started hinting at the possibility they could do a lot more, but it’s been long enough that AI-enabled features are becoming an increasingly big part of shipping products – saving time, or even opening up markets that were once a mile out of reach. REIMAGINING THE UN-REIMAGINABLE Researchers might suggest that AI and machine learning are terms we should separate. Even if we bundle them up into a single concept, some of the most visible, identifiable implementations are in software – like Blackmagic’s Resolve. The beta release of version 18.5 emerged at this year’s NAB Show with significant new AI-enabled features, though as the company’s Craig Heffernan says, some of the software underpinnings have been there for a while. “We’ve had AI in Resolve for four or five years,” Heffernan points out. “Our term for it is the neural engine. The earliest stuff was sync-up support… there’s a search engine which works for media management, object recognition and mask creation that would take too much time for a person. We’ve


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