Microsoft’s Wahl: Video AI Isn’t ‘Pie in the Sky’

Martin Wahl, principal program manager of cloud, AI and cognitive services for Microsoft, shared some daunting figures July 24 during a presentation at the Smart Content Summit East event, part of the Media & Entertainment (M&E) Day at the Microsoft Conference Center in New York.

This year should see $150 billion spent on IT, with $19 billion of that coming in the media and entertainment industry. And a good chunk of that spending is going to be on artificial intelligence technologies, and the advantages that AI can bring to media and entertainment.

“Whether you’re in production, whether you’re in creative, whether you’re in advertising, whether you’re in finance, it’s invariable and inevitable that your organization will consider these technologies, probably in the next five years, if not sooner,” Wahl said. “At Microsoft, it goes without saying: We’re all in on AI,”

Microsoft specifically is seeing its customers ask for help in intelligent, AI-driven bots, apps and business processes, Wahl said, and Microsoft is investing in its own AI platform and technologies for itself and its customers, specifically tools that allow for automatic transcription of video and audio content, the ability to flag certain content before publishing online, the enablement of more advanced video search, the creation of captions in any language for video content, and more.

“These technologies have been available in Microsoft products for some time, and are now available for your products as well, and our partners’ [offerings],” Wahl said.

Whether its improving discoverability, increasing the value of content, personalizing the viewer experience, or augmenting manual labor, “we think this technology has a lot of uses in the media and entertainment industry,” Wahl said.

Specifically, Wahl shared some of the capabilities of the Microsoft Azure’s Cloud AI video indexing service, which allows for automatic metadata curation directly from uploaded video content, covering speech-to-text transcription and closed captioning, face and object recognition, and language translation.

“Whatever your needs are, these capabilities exist now. This is not pie in the sky,” he said.

The 2018 M&E Day also included Content Protection Summit East and Entertainment Production in the Cloud (EPIC) conference tracks, providing M&E technology teams valuable insights into the creation, production, distribution, security and analysis of content.

The event was presented by Microsoft, with sponsorship from IBM Watson Media, Amazon Web Services, IBM, LiveTiles, Microsoft Azure, NAGRA, NeuLion, Ooyala, EIDR, GrayMeta, MarkLogic, Qumulo, Avid, Cloudian, SoftServe and TiVo. The event was produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and the Smart Content Council.

Click here for audio of Wahl’s presentation or here for the slide deck.