Nokia Director's Cut - Future Tech at Nokia World

Published by at

If you’ve ever worked on video editing, you’ll understand how stitching together clips of the same event from multiple devices can be a tedious and labour intensive task. Nokia's researchers are working on a way to automate this, and were showing off their work at Nokia World 2011. The result of their work “Director’s Cut” is a system that can intelligently cut clips together. Read on to find out more.

In the Future Tech tent at Nokia World 2011, on day two, there was a cryptic looking demonstration. A large flat panel TV, manned by two Nokia employees, was showing video footage of the Nokia World party, held the previous night.

The video showed various clips of the entertainment laid on for the attendees who had a lot more stamina than I did. While it was clearly all amateur footage, the thing that gave it a professional look was the cuts between many different angles. As one of the demonstrators enthusiastically plonked a set of headphones on me, I could hear one continuous sound track of the events as they were happening, rather than a music track that was added in post production.

Nokia Director’s Cut in action with Nokia's Igor Curcio

Then Nokia’s Igor Curcio started to explained that amateur video producers have a hard time getting the best shots at gigs, because they are stuck at a distance from the acts. However, the audience are “front and centre” and thus in the best position to capture footage. Therefore, compiling footage from the audience would be an advantage. However, cutting between the same points in time for dozens of video files is extremely tricky to do.

However, it’s wise to try to exploit this potentially rich source of content. The social media generation is always recording video on its phones of events it has attended. Many people then go on to upload to social media sites like YouTube and Facebook.

We were told that Nokia’s trick of getting multiple videos aligned is to analyse their audio tracks. From this, the “Director’s Cut” software can (auto-magically) splice together a large number of clips into one continuous video production.

Along with this, audience members can also supply photographs, which can be randomly sprinkled (as 'pan and scans') into the final video too. While not as engaging as a true moving image, digital stills generally have a better quality than captured video.

We were told that when operating the (server-based) Director’s Cut software, that one can control parameters to prefer or reduce clips based on device type, user name, or type of content (i.e. photo or video).

Director’s Cut is still in its early days. For instance, there is still not an established way for people to upload content. The demonstrators told us that its media would be uploaded via a dedicated application. However, it was still undecided whether this would be a general application which would require the user to set where the content was to be sent; or whether event organisers could commission customised versions of the application for specific events.

For the field test at the Nokia World party, users were handed N8s and E7s (running Symbian, though that's not relevant for this test) with the Director’s Cut client application pre-loaded, and were asked to record content and pass the phones back at the end of the evening. Afterwards, the Director’s Cut team simply retrieved the content via USB and fed it into their master computer to create something to show off to journalists on day two of the event.

The end result was strangely compelling and you can't help but wonder why noone has thought of something like this before! Maybe they have - comments welcome...

David Gilson, 09 November 2011