You are currently viewing EDCF Convention 2024 Review – Part One

EDCF Convention 2024 Review – Part One

  • Post category:Conferences

Where Visionary Insights meet Cinema History

In the heart of Amsterdam, the illustrious Pathé Royal Theater Tuschinski hosted the much-anticipated EDCF Conference 2024 on February 6 and 7. Drawing together an assembly of around 100 professionals spanning exhibitors, cinema integrators, and technology suppliers, the conference served as a vibrant platform for the exchange of ideas and innovations shaping the future of the cinema industry.

Welcome and Industry Overview

As attendees settled into the opulent surroundings of the iconic theatre, the event kicked off with a warm welcome note by Cathy Huis in’t Veld-Esser, president of the EDCF, which set the tone for an engaging two days ahead. Notably, the opening remarks were imbued with a sense of celebration as Cathy highlighted the EDCF’s remarkable 20-year journey. Former EDCF board member Michael Lambrechtsen (Dutch Film Distributors Association) attended as a special guest. She pointedly acknowledged former EDCF president David Hancock as the “Architect of the conference,” recognizing his pivotal role in its inception back in 2016.

Over the years, this two-day EDCF conference has been consistently organized to discuss the current state of the industry, to debate, and to network. This year, the EDCF is poised for expansion, with a promise to deliver even more events and gatherings for its members and friends. A noteworthy addition is the collaboration with ICTA, ushering in a cinema tour that promises to be an immersive and informative experience for all participants.

As the EDCF Conference 2024 unfolds, attendees can anticipate a convergence of industry pioneers, thought leaders, and technology visionaries, all contributing to the collective narrative of cinema’s evolution. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the key discussions, insights, and revelations that will define the future landscape of this dynamic and ever-evolving industry.

After Cathy’s warm welcome David Hancock (Omdia) took the stage as a moderator. He began by expressing his fondness for the Pathé Tuschinski cinema, particularly Screen one. He then delved into the post-Covid development of the cinema industry worldwide. Despite a mixed global picture in cinema recovery, the top three film produceing countries were still identified as India, China, and the USA. Notably, several major movies were delayed to 2025 due to Hollywood strikes, which impacted global box office forecasts, and the industry as a whole has yet to reach pre-COVID figures. In addition, current global events have an impact on the forecasts, he adds.

Franchises face a disappointment at the box office, accounting for only 54.7% of the top 50 US movies in 2023 compared to 80% at their peak. Consequently, the studio’s share of the global market saw a significant drop to 51.4%, marking the first time it fell below 60% in a non-COVID year between 2010 and 2019.

Despite challenges, there was optimism regarding cinema recovery as COVID is no longer a hindrance. However, the overall net screen growth has slowed down. Omdia, however, does not anticipate significant closures of screens. In conclusion, while facing setbacks and a changed landscape, the cinema industry is, to a large extent, rebounding from the impact of the pandemic and while there is work to be done, the overall trend is up.

AI in Film Production

AI plays a crucial role in revolutionizing film production across various stages, as Gloria Swoboda (antoni Berlin) outlines in her presentation. It can be utilized for analyzing extensive datasets, identifying patterns, and predicting the potential success of a project, providing a solid foundation for decision-making. For example, Skriptbook focuses on script analysis, while Cinelytic extends its scope to analyze the entire production workflow.

In creative development, AI is employed for script development through tools like ChatGPT and DeepL. Squibbler AI is utilized to generate scripts with the ability to visualize the story or create AI generated videos, while Midjourney offers a text-to-image tool, and Runway ML provides a text-to-video tool.

AI’s impact also extends to visual effects, where it is used to create a digital face of actors, for example. This comes in handy for dubbing purposes to ensure  lip-syncing in different languages. Noteworthy tools in this domain include TrueSync and DeepEditor, both from Flawless. Overall, AI is becoming an integral part of the film industry, enhancing efficiency and creativity in various aspects of production. With new tools entering the market in rapid succession, Gloria encouraged the audience to “play around“ with the free test versions the various tools offer to become familiar with AI tools.

Richard Welsh (Deluxe) then talked about AI in the content pipeline. His presentation covered various aspects, including synthetic humans and deepfakes. He highlighted the effectiveness of AI in achieving good lip sync, particularly for the English language. However, ethical concerns were raised, emphasizing the importance of avoiding the “uncanny valley“.

The discussion touched on Color AI, and Richard emphasized that AI is not magic. He pointed out that large language models, despite their capabilities, do not “know” anything; they simply reproduce input data.

In the context of dubbing and audio description, challenges were noted in emotional matching, as performance nuances are complex. Despite advancements, voice actors were deemed to still be the best choice. The presentation acknowledged the ethical considerations surrounding deepfakes and synthetic humans.

Regarding subtitles and translation, Richard mentioned that today’s tools based on large language models have a good style but are prone to hallucination. The inconsistency of current models was highlighted, with a call for human in the loop involvement to address these issues. Live subtitling and translation have entered the general availability stage, while captioning was noted to require context beyond what current models can provide.

Open Discussion on AI

The following open discussion on AI, with Gloria Swoboda and Richard Welsh, moderated by Patrick von Sychowski, covered a broad spectrum of perspectives on the technology, ranging from its potential opportunities to potential threats. Gloria emphasized that it takes time for people to become familiar with AI, indicating a learning curve associated with its adoption.

Richard addressed the concerns on AI that also fueled the actors’ and screenwriters’ strike in Hollywood, clarifying that while AI can have a significant impact, it is not meant to replace actors, screenwriters or other industry professionals entirely. He suggested that while AI can produce passable animations, creating a lifelike action movie is currently beyond its capabilities. The discussion also touched on the fear of job displacement due to AI, highlighting the need for individuals to be cautious about the potential for AI taking over certain roles.

The conversation shifted towards the role of AI in prompting, with Gloria sharing insights from her company’s experience. She emphasized that the effectiveness of AI depends on the specific tool being used. The consensus was that becoming a proficient user of AI requires experimentation and a willingness to try different tools.

Intellectual property concerns were addressed by Gloria, who noted that the current state of AI is not advanced enough to create a whole film autonomously. She suggested that if AI is used in the creative process, it should be disclosed before publishing, emphasizing transparency about the involvement of AI in the creation of content.

A practical example using Chat GPT was brought up: The tool had no problems with explaining what EDCF is nor with writing a limerick about it. Overall, the discussion provided a nuanced view of AI, covering its potential, challenges, and the ongoing process of integrating AI tools into various industries while considering ethical and practical implications.

to be continued-