We all know that editing is an incredibly complex craft, one that requires not only an immaculate sense of timing, but also an in-depth knowledge of narrative structure. The edit is, after all, the final re-writing of the script. With that said, editing can also be, well, a pain in the ass, with hours on end spent making minuscule changes. But what if an edit, or at least a competent rough cut, could be done with an algorithm designed to choose the best shots and string them together with continuity? Well, a group of engineers with Disney Research have done just that, and they've put together a brief video explanation of how it all works.
Before we get to the video, it should be noted that the primary focus of this algorithm seems to be social situations where multiple people are filming the same content with the camera phones that have become ubiquitous in modern society. However, with the way that the algorithm is designed (with a focus of the rules of editing and cinematography), this technique might very well find practical application in the world of narrative and documentary films and television.
While this technique is absolutely fascinating for a number of reasons, it's obviously never going to replace an experienced editor. With that said, depending on how advanced and accurate the algorithm becomes, it could very well become an invaluable tool to assist editors with things like footage organization and rough cutting. Just imagine dumping your footage at the end of the day, leaving the algorithm to do its thing overnight, then coming into work the next morning to find a coherent and workable rough cut of the previous day's material waiting for you.
If you'd like to learn more about the science behind this algorithm, head on over to the Disney Research press release and download the full PDF.