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Hooray For Semantic Tech In The Film Industry

By   /  September 30, 2013  /  No Comments

Image courtesy popturfdotcom/Flickr

Image courtesy popturfdotcom/Flickr

The story below features an interview with Kurt Cagle, Information Architect Avalon Consulting, LLC, who is speaking this week at the Semantic Technology And Business Conference in NYC. You can save $200 when you register for the event before October 2.


New York has a rich history in the film industry.  The city was the capital of film production from 1895 to 1910. In fact, a quick trip from Manhattan to Queens will take you to the former home of the Kaufman Astoria Studios, now the site of the American Museum of the Moving Image. Even after the industry moved shop to Hollywood, New York continued to hold its own, as evidenced by this Wikipedia list of films shot in the city.


semtechnyclogoThis week, at the Semantic Technology & Business Conference, a session entitled Semantics Goes Hollywood will offer a perspective on the technology’s applicability to the industry for both its East and West Coast practitioners (and anyone in between). For that matter, even people in industries of completely different stripes stand to gain value: As Kurt Cagle, Information Architect at Avalon Consulting, LLC, who works with many companies in the film space, explains, “A lot of what I see is not really a Hollywood-based problem at all – it’s a data integration problem.”


Here’s a spotlight on some of the points Cagle will discuss when he takes the stage:


  • Just like any enterprise, studios that have acquired other film companies face the challenge of ensuring that their systems can understand the information that’s stored in the systems of the companies they bought. Semantic technology can come to the fore here as it has for industries that might not have the same aura of glamour surrounding them. “Our data models may not be completely in sync but you can represent both and communicate both into a single composite data system, and a language like SPARQL can query against both sets to provide information without having to do a huge amount of re-engineering,” Cagle says.

  • The film industry turns its biggest characters – from Darth Vader to Harry Potter – into ongoing revenue streams through the smart art of merchandising. To maximize the value of this, Cagle says, requires tracking information about the characters and the franchise from which they’re spawned beyond internal systems.  “If you can build a semantic system that says you have a way of globally referring to pieces of information yourself, you can also take advantage of external systems and do internal mappings to say that when you talk about this character with this set of reference terms, you can also talk about the same character [as it’s referred to] in the IMDB database or Wikipedia or by Walmart,” he says. “This is where semantics gives you the capability of providing a core set of data and helping you to effectively manage IP properties.”


  • Another piece of the chain is priming the organization to leverage sentiment analytics in a world of Big Data rolling in from sources ranging from Twitter to Rotten Tomatoes. “As you try to get from that data set some information about not only did people like [your work] but why, to utilize that you need some way of … translating back [the data] into your internal references that identify these resources,” he says. “So you see a lot of semantics in that respect being used as part of the inferencing side and entity and content enrichment side.”


Film production companies are taking these issues as seriously as any other industries. “In the last six months I’ve heard the term, ‘We need to get a handle on our metadata,’ coming from three different studios,” says Cagle. “So they all are thinking about that problem and that domain.” While they haven’t yet fully embraced semantics as the solution to their issues, “a lot are getting there, looking and exploring those options now,” Cagle says.


To hear more, register for the SemTech here.

About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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