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Plotagon – Make a movie by just writing a story (plotagon.com)
88 points by DouweM 1540 days ago | hide | past | web | 36 comments | favorite

No Linux version?

Edit: Got it installed on Windows. Note that your installer window doesn't display quite right under Windows 8 at higher DPI settings (http://i.imgur.com/GXQA3uz.png). I like that the application does automatic camera work; last time I tried Xtranormal (admittedly, a while ago) they didn't offer that. Is there a way to use a custom speech synthesis engine for a character in Windows? Ellen's voice is disappointingly synthetic and I would rather use a nicer third-party voice I have installed. Edit 2: At least Ellen's voice is like that when saying "Joe" -- you can hear her show a bit of SHODAN heritage at http://vocaroo.com/i/s00J7Zud8UnB -- but not when she says other things, apparently.

Nice as it is, I don't see this program gaining mind share without a video made in it going viral. I would recommend allowing some form of movie sharing in the free version (perhaps watermarked or limited to a direct upload to your own website) to make that happen.

We're still adjusting and the sharing feature in the free trial might be a really good idea.

Watermarked would probably be a good idea. Though it is annoying for free users, it does serve the purpose of letting everyone who watches the video know what software was used to create it, and where to get it to try it out for themselves.

If you do add a watermark, I would suggest putting in in one of the corners, and making it slightly transparent, in order to reduce annoyance to the viewer.

You might put it in the corner, and stylize it so it looks like a TV Station logo (of course you would have your own branding and url). That might prove less annoying, then just a normal watermark.

I was excited to use this to enhance language learning dialogs, but their licensing is very strict and the software doesn't give you access to the final video files to redistribute them.

Apart from their specific use case, I it seems it would be hard to do anything else with this. They should think a bit harder about unshackling it a bit. It's a powerful idea.

Thanks for the warning. As per Plotagon's current terms of use [1] they get the right of first refusal [2] to the user's content. Can someone with a knowledge of copyright law explain whether this would mean they have the right of first refusal to any screenplay you've imported into their software? If so, that's not reasonable. Also, video embedding through non-standard means is prohibited and there is no official mechanism for video embedding. Will one be provided?

The license clauses in question:

>24. Plotagon License to User Intellectual Property

>You agree that Plotagon shall be given the infinite, worldwide and exclusive publishing rights to your User Content created with the Service. Plotagon may also use your User Content and User Texts for marketing purposes and feature them in its services, for example as educational material, in tutorials etc. Plotagon also has the first right of refusal and right of last refusal and matching rights to acquire any additional rights to the User Content.

>25. User License to Plotagon Intellectual Property

>You are hereby given a license to use the Service and the Plotagon Content to create User Content provided however that you abide by all Terms stipulated in these Terms of Use. You are entitled to post your User Content on the Website, and other permitted channels that Plotagon may announce in the future. You are not entitled to post your User Content on other, non-permitted websites, media, social networks or show the works embedded on other websites, except through functionality specifically provided by Plotagon to do so.

[1] https://plotagon.com/terms (last updated: August 8, 2013)

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_first_refusal

Crap. I thought this looked promising and started downloading it before I saw these terms. I won't waste time trying it now, with those ridiculous restrictions there's no point in bothering.

Wow. Imagine if Microsoft put the same nonsense in the Word license, it would have been stillborn.

Or is this the plan all along, an IP grab...?

This comment should sit at the top, as it might save a lot of time to a probably large part of people seeing this product.

Note to self: Read terms....

Hi, we listened and we have been spending some times with the company lawyers. Next week we will come out with updated user terms. Basically what we meant with the first and last refusal is that we should have the right to make a commercial offer to a writer of a good script for their movie rights, but since anyone really always has this right it doesnt add much to keep it in the user terms, especially since it can be confusing and unclear (for example Kindle worlds put in their user terms that they have the right to buy any story created in Kindle worlds for 10 000 USD. We were really not after anything like that). Brgs, Chris (Founder, CEO at Plotagon)

A while back Microsoft demonstrated a translation technology which can translate your words into a different language in your own voice. I suppose technically we can analyze voice recordings of actual actors to obtain a voice profile with which we can use to do text to speech (not suggesting plotagon should do that, just saying technically we can do it since the technology's feasibility has been demonstrated)?


edit: also, there are already vision-based behavioral/gait analysis software in existence (how well they work is another question)...so conceivably we can also recreate an actor's performances?

About 10 years ago or more I read about a "vocal font" project. Where singers voices were samples and a vocal font of sorts was created which would be used to compose music digitally in the sound of any artist. From what I recall it was in development and they were far along. About once a year I try a google search but I have never been able to track it down again.

The progress of computation means that eventually – maybe in 50 years? – a tool like this will be able to output results that look as good as today's big-budget blockbusters, including recognizable actors in convincing performances.

I reason that it will take less than 50 years. Given the advances in object recognition, and graphical rendering. We can already make fictional worlds a reality in HD. I'd say less than 10 years. This will have a big impact on the entertainment industry.

The likelihood of that happening is about the same as being able to write software without being a programmer. You already have the tools to turn a script into a blockbuster. What you don't have is the time and the skills. For a software to replace that, it damn sure must pass the Turing test as well.

Mhh a download of payed software. Too bad, with an open model and proper integration of social media this could have been a billion dollar start-up and one of the things that could take on Hollywood in a couple of years once their tech has matured a bit (no this won't compete with Michael Bay and yes most movies will be crap and/or porn, but it now means that every half decent writer will be able to gets or her work on the big screen).

The great thing is that it enables writers to prototype their work. So now, people can have screening parties and do crowdfunding for movies. I think this is great from that perspective.

This does a worse job of "prototyping" someone's writing than good old-fashioned reading does.

As someone who's about to make my first short film with a friend soon, I'm going to throw the script into this and see if it's absolutely horrid or not. Might be useful in spotting really obvious mistakes.

See above. If you do they will own your script!

Someone get me some popcorn, because this is going to be so bad it's awesome. This will be the new Xtranormal.

Xtranormal was absolutely hilarious, hoping this reaches the same heights of unintentional comedy.

We try our best. Here's our take on The Worst Script Line In History (Link to the original in the movie comments) https://plotagon.com/376

Worst line in history?

I take it you guys haven't seen The Room: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368226/?ref_=sr_2

...which, by the way, someone should remake entirely in Plotagon. The acting will actually improve. :)

It has begun: https://plotagon.com/427

That one wasn't funny, it wasn't as meta as "Is this real life." [0]

[0] https://plotagon.com/358

It's a great idea but I think it is a long way from being useful. The one feature I would not expect to see using a tool like this is realistic rendition of the dialogue. I know that is not technologically feasible. What I would expect to do in abscence of that, is be able to set the mood of the scene through lighting and colour, have a wider camera angle and movement vocabulary, and a wider range of interactions between the actors. This would make it a powerful previz tool and it would help tell the story closer to the writers intent in the absence of human reading the script. Just some of my thoughts. It would also be nice to see a linux version of this too. I can't see experienced writers using this, but they may not be the target audience. Who is the target audience by the way?

The problem I have with this, and with similar tools past and present, is that as you get further into them you realize how much your script starts being limited by the tool. I'd like to write about a group of handicapped kids of different races who go to a camp near a lake. Imagine how many of the characters and scenes I just described are not supported by the tool. Which shouldn't be surprising given that a script can be in any setting within this world or another one. Unless the tool has a separate procedural background tool, and a procedural set tool, and a procedural character tool, you will always find that the "does anything" tool doesn't.

Is it worth $25 if you are doing sitcoms or the like? Probably. Otherwise, less likely so...

I've often wondered about the reverse. A movie script as the ultimate video compression.

I wouldn't call it ultimate compression, plain-text is an easily compressible format.

Also, it would be a very lossy compression. There are a lot of decisions made by the actors/directors/designers that influence the final movie.

Nice idea. If you look at this: http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6905817/every-tech-commerc... ('Every Tech Commercial') there could be plain ASCII templates for movie or commercial plots.

I'm a bit confused about who is this for. Looking at the examples it's obviously not for making movies, unless you consider a video capture from the Sims to be a movie.

What is the goal for this project, who will use it? The only one I see is a couple of "so bad they're good" funny videos.

May be used by startups to make demo videos.

There was an earlier post on HN few months ago that talked about a tool or similar that help write formulaic scripts and in fact being used pervasively (iirc) in Hollywood. Anyone remember it? Might be a good fit to go with this?

It's a book called Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder.

Here's the HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6072524

We've come a very long way since the days of the story maker I had for my Atari 130XE as a kid that would manipulate on-screen characters based on English text.

seems really similar to the early days of animoto, which were pretty popular on youtube

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