News Stories

Data & Analytics Project

The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Precise Story and Character Mechanics to Box Office Returns

Our Data & Analytics Project held “The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Stories & Characters to Box Office Revenue” Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

This study leverages the Dramatic taxonomy of film narrative to infer which scene-level character and story attributes generate more box office returns, by genre. We are extending this study to ads and movie trailers.

The project researchers used machine learning to map 70+ story attributes for 300 films to their box office returns to extract which story mechanics or character features in film generated the most revenue. This was the first time granular story and character mechanics have been used to predict box office returns, which opens up many avenues to make more data-driven creative and development decisions throughout the industry.

What’s a good story? The question has been hanging without a scientific answer since the dawn of man. It seems that a story’s lack of clear mathematical structure and universal taxonomy would relegate such classification of stories to the qualitative – and highly subjective- empire of critics and … people.

Until now.

The event presented results from the research, discussed applications for the development and creative process, and outlined next steps.

Studio Technology Leaders Dinner

ETC held its 5th Studio Technology Leaders Dinner at USC’s Town & Gown on Friday, June 24. Industry colleagues from member companies and af liates gathered for an evening of networking, VR demos, the presentation of ETC’s Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award and the dinner’s featured panel discussion.

Elizabeth M. Daley, Dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts opened the evening, welcoming
the guests in a speech that highlighted ETC’s success convening technology companies and studios, and touched on the center’s history, accomplishments and continued importance in the industry. ETC’s CEO and Executive Director, Ken Williams, served as the evening’s host and panel moderator. He announced the Executive Board’s newly created honorary category, ETC Board Director Emeritus and the inaugural designees, Chuck Dages, Vince Roberts, and Wendy Aylsworth.

This year’s ETC Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award recipient was Wendy Aylsworth, CEO (Walden Pond). She accepted the award after remarks from Howard Lukk, Director (SMPTE — on behalf of Executive Director Barbra Lange); Chuck Dages, Chair (TV Academy); and Darcy Antonellis, CEO (Vubiquity). The award recognizes Wendy’s outstanding, broad and lasting contributions that have helped shape the future of entertainment technology.

USC’s VR student club (VRSC) offered hands-on VR experiences for attendees, who could try out student VR project “Zombie Camp” on HTC Vive and the new Samsung Gear, as well as student VR project “Lions and Deer” on the Samsung Gear. GrabGames Deluxe and Wearality also had booths.

Offering their expert opinions about the current challenges, developments and future impact of media and entertainment technology, the Center’s signature studio leaders panel discussion featured Hanno Basse, CTO (20th Century Fox Film), Justin Herz, SVP, Digital (Warner Bros. Entertainment Group), Spencer Stephens, CTO (Sony Pictures Entertainment), Jamie Voris, CTO (Walt Disney Studios), and Michael Wise, CTO (Universal Pictures).

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Data & Analytics Project

The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Precise Story and Character Mechanics to Box Office Returns

Our Data & Analytics Project held “The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Stories & Characters to Box Office Revenue” Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

This study leverages the Dramatic taxonomy of film narrative to infer which scene-level character and story attributes generate more box office returns, by genre. We are extending this study to ads and movie trailers.

The project researchers used machine learning to map 70+ story attributes for 300 films to their box office returns to extract which story mechanics or character features in film generated the most revenue. This was the first time granular story and character mechanics have been used to predict box office returns, which opens up many avenues to make more data-driven creative and development decisions throughout the industry.

What’s a good story? The question has been hanging without a scientific answer since the dawn of man. It seems that a story’s lack of clear mathematical structure and universal taxonomy would relegate such classification of stories to the qualitative – and highly subjective- empire of critics and … people.

Until now.

The event presented results from the research, discussed applications for the development and creative process, and outlined next steps.

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