Former Baidu Smart Speaker Team Members are Making Movies with AI at Rct Studios


Image Credit: TechCrunch

Chinese startup, rct studio, is using artificial intelligence technology to create films. The rct studio team consists of eight people and is led by Cheng Lyu, who worked with Baidu to develop their first smart speaker after Baidu acquired his voice startup, Raven, in 2017. In 2018, Lyu left Baidu to start rct, bringing with him many of Raven’s team members.

Rct studio developed the Morpheus engine in order to sift through huge amounts of human-written scripts and storylines giving it the ability to have its characters adapt to situations in realistic ways in real-time. Users can experience the Morpheus engine developed worlds with virtual reality, and using voice commands – think Westworld meets virtual reality. The rct team has extensive experience with natural language processing due to Raven and Baidu, making the inclusion of voice control for users a natural step. Xinjie Ma, head of marketing for rct, told TechCrunch,

It takes an enormous amount of time and effort for humans to come up with a story logic. With machines, we can quickly produce an infinite number of narrative choices.

Rct wants Morpheus to be a comprehensive AI tool for filmmakers. In addition to developing storylines, Morpheus can also render text to 3D images and turn a story arc into a decision-making tree in seconds. For example, a user could type in “the man throws the cup to the desk behind the sofa” and would be able to see the corresponding animation instantaneously.

Investors Are Listening Despite a Skeptical Film Industry

Rct studio told TechCrunch it is about to close its Series A funding round after having just graduated from Y Combinator and receiving seed money from the Chinese venture capital firm Skysaga. Right now, the company’s main to-do is to find technical talent to train Morpheus with screenplay data. Ma commented,

Not all filmmakers we approach like what we do, which is understandable because it’s a very mature industry, while others get excited about tech’s possibility.

Eventually, rct studio says it wants to release its own films. It has already partnered with Future Affairs Administration, a Chinese sci-fi publisher representing about 200 writers, and says it plans to begin co-producing interactive films within a year. Ma says

Making our own films carry(s) so many more possibilities than simply selling a piece of software.

Rct studio Represents the Possibilities of Voice Controlled Entertainment

Rct studio shows the potential voice assistants and AI technology have to create a new kind of entertainment. Consumers certainly seem receptive as the 2019 Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report found that almost half of smart speaker owners had played a game on their device and nearly 30% say they play one at least monthly. Video games like Skyrim have already developed voice-first versions of their content for Alexa which require no screen.

Future uses of rct studio’s Morpheus engine could lead to faster development of audio games, and with voice assistants integrated into smart displays, televisions, tablets, and phones, Morpheus could easily take advantage of a multimodal approach to interactive games and movies. The use of Morpheus could also potentially cut down on the amount of time it takes to develop game and movie storylines, meaning production time of interactive games and movies could potentially be much faster. It could also mean that players would never play the same game twice.

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