October 2023

dock10's Richard Wormwell on artificial intelligence

dock10's Richard Wormwell on artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence has emerged as one of the buzz topics of 2023 following the release of ChatGPT late last year. Here Richard Wormwell, dock10's Head of Production Innovation, gives us the lowdown on AI as far as the TV industry is concerned and explains dock10's approach to the technology.

How is dock10 working with AI?

We are actively exploring AI and, as one of the UK's leading facilities, we are strategically well positioned to do so. We are already collaborating with broadcasters, production partners, academia and government to explore the technical implications and creative possibilities of AI for the TV industry. We aim to offer best-in-class AI-driven technologies that the industry can take advantage of.

How seriously is dock10 taking AI?

Very seriously. We recently employed someone to take a lead on the technology. In March, we appointed Professor Florian Block to the newly created role of R&D Lead, AI & Immersive.

What are the benefits of AI for the TV industry?

The real benefit of AI for the TV industry is as a convergence technology. Specific generative AI tools can, of course, be incredibly helpful for creating things like pitch decks, storyboards and concept art. But AI's real value for creatives lies in its ability to harness together technologies like virtual production, motion capture and real time graphics solutions. Using the data-processing power of AI, these technologies can collectively create unique IP – such as AI-driven synthetic humans that move, speak and react within a virtual studio.

This might be personalised content to complement traditional broadcast output. For example, a ‘virtual’ version of a presenter, say Gary Lineker, could use generative AI to help answer questions directly from individual viewers.

AI tools can also crunch data to discover hidden narratives and fresh angles to stories. AI can quickly process data from, say live sports; then real time graphics solutions can display the information in an immersive, engaging way on the screen. For a reality show, a production team can use AI technologies to scour data to find patterns or narratives that can inform a developing story.

The processing power of AI makes all this much more affordable, which is particularly important in the current economic climate.

Ultimately, we think of AI as a creative tool for producers, content creators, and technical developers – one that opens up opportunities for improving programme and shoulder content production. AI will allow creatives to be even more creative – and more productive too.

What kind of experience does dock10 have in the AI field?

We have years of experience working with AI. In 2018, before AI was even the buzzword it is today, we formed the Weavr consortium. This was a flagship UK government-backed innovation project awarded £4.2m to build an AI-driven tech platform for the esports sector, providing fans with live game data and immersive content. We have been using AI-driven technology ever since, hosting events in our virtual studios such as the Gran Turismo Sport FIA Online Championship.

What did you learn from this experience?

That gaining experience and building a track record in AI is vital. Specialist AI-driven TV technology works best when it can draw on large sets of data to train and improve itself. dock10 can capture huge amounts of data from the virtual production projects filmed in our studios, helping us to create better AI-driven content in the future.

AI is really all about big data analysis, the larger the data sets the harder you can train the AI and produce better results sooner. As we capture very bespoke data sets in controlled studio environments the data sets are already refined and the AI is able to ‘learn’ at an exponential rate, so improvements in quality are rapid. Those at the forefront of the AI revolution will be hard to catch up with.

So, what can we expect to see next from dock10 in the AI space?

We are collaborating with production companies and universities who bring their ideas to us to explore how they can use AI to enhance their content. We are experts in the field of deploying AI solutions for the TV industry, we understand it better than most. Some of the projects we are working on are incredibly ground-breaking and exciting. Unfortunately, I can't say much more at the moment. Just watch this space!