DeepMind created an AI tool that can help generate rough film and stage scripts

DeepMind created an AI tool that can help generate rough film and stage scripts

Have you ever thought up an idea for a movie or play that you just know will be a smash hit, but haven’t gotten around to writing the script? Alphabet’s DeepMind has built an AI tool that can help get you started. Dramatron is a so-called “co-writing” tool that can generate character descriptions, plot points, location descriptions and dialogue. The idea is that human writers will be able to compile, edit and rewrite what Dramatron comes up with into a proper script. Think of it like ChatGPT, but with output that you can edit into a blockbuster movie script.

To get started, you’ll need an OpenAI API key and, if you want to reduce the risk of Dramatron outputting “offensive text,” a Perspective API key. To test out Dramatron, I fed in the log line for a movie idea I had when I was around 15 that definitely would have been a hit if Kick-Ass didn’t beat me to the punch. Dramatron quickly whipped up a title that made sense, and character, scene and setting descriptions. The dialogue that the AI generated was logical but trite and on the nose. Otherwise, it was almost as if Dramatron pulled the descriptions straight out of my head, including one for a scene that I didn’t touch on in the log line.

Playwrights seemed to agree, according to a paper that the team behind Dramatron presented today. To test the tool, the researchers brought in 15 playwrights and screenwriters to co-write scripts. According to the paper, playwrights said they wouldn’t use the tool to craft a complete play and found that the AI’s output can be formulaic. However, they suggested Dramatron would be useful for world building or to help them explore other approaches in terms of changing plot elements or characters. They noted that the AI could be handy for “creative idea generation” too.

That said, a playwright staged four plays that used “heavily edited and rewritten scripts” they wrote with the help of Dramatron. DeepMind said that in the performance, experienced actors with improv skills “gave meaning to Dramatron scripts through acting and interpretation.”

Use of the AI tool may raise questions about authorship and who (or what) should get the credit for a script. Last year, a UK appeals court ruled that artificial intelligence can’t be legally credited as an inventor on a patent. DeepMind notes that Dramatron can output fragments of text that were used to train the language model, which, if used in a script that was produced, could lead to accusations of plagiarism. “One possible mitigation is for the human co-writer to search for substrings from outputs to help to identify plagiarism,” DeepMind said.

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Kris Holt

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