News Stories

Creating A Harmonized Metadata System for Entertainment Content

Part One: Opportunities & Pain Points In Production & Post Production

Interactive 360 forum looking at the opportunities and challenges of establishing a metadata system for entertainment content, particularly in production and post.


  • Presentations of cutting edge metadata solutions developed by filmmakers, networks and studios
  • A safe harbor discussion about such questions as:
    • how can we benefit from an organized metadata system?
    • what is currently recorded on set and in post and what is missing?
    • what would an optimal system look like?
    • how can we overcome the obstacles to moving forward?
  • Sean Cooney, Warner Bros. – VP Advanced Prod. Technology, Technical Operations
  • Pete Conlin, Sixteen19 – Managing Partner
  • Steve Cronan, Fifth Kind -CEO/Founder
  • Jonas Thaler, Walden Media – SVP Post Production
  • Christy King, Zuffa, LLC (parent company of UFC)- VP Digital, Technology R&D
  • Mike Romey, Zoic Studios – VP Digital Operations (“Once Upon A Time”)
  • Jim Houston (moderator), Starwatcher Digital – Principal


On Set Workflows: Pain Points, Opportunities and Indicators for the Future

We examined the challenge of designing and executing optimal on-set workflows for feature film and TV productions. Discussion focused on the questions that filmmakers ask to clarify the requirements of a project; the demands placed by tent poles, independent motion pictures (medium to micro-budget), premium TV dramas and episodics; and the plethora of new solutions on the market. Efforts were made to determine if there were patterns and commonalities across specific kinds of projects and, if so, to begin to identify those benchmarks.


Because digital technologies have upended production, because of the plethora of new solutions, and because of a lack of established best practices, filmmakers, studios and networks almost always reinvent the wheel when they design the workflow for a feature film or TV shoot. Decisions about dailies, color space, file formats and backups, on what needs to be done and where and when it should be done, are made without data from similar projects, without the necessary clarifying information and without knowledge of all the options. The goal of this symposium was to define choices, shine a light on the underlying reasons behind the selection of one route over another, and explore whether there are optimal on-set workflow solutions for projects that face similar challenges.


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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