IBM computers are to automatically edit highlight reels of Wimbledon tennis matches. They will look for player emotional displays among other cues.
The videos will be uploaded to the website of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which organizes the Wimbledon Championship. The idea is to have clips of every game on the six main courts available within 10 minutes of the game ending, something that wouldn’t be practical to do with human editors because of the hours of work it would involve.
The computers have been programmed with a range of indicators that a particular clip might be worth including in the finished package. Some of these are basic match facts such as shots that won a set or broke a serve and helped turn a game around.
Other indicators include the level of crowd noise and social media activity such as a lot of users suddenly commenting on a game, which could indicate a dramatic shot or a controversial moment.
The computers will also analyse the video itself, looking for signs of player shouting loudly, pumping their fist or raising their hands. Not only are these clues as to important moments, but the reaction shots themselves are often key parts of highlight videos.
The software is based on IBM’s Watson program, the artificial intelligence package that came to public attention after defeating two former champions at quiz game Jeopardy, in which success requires processing the ‘answer’ to find the ‘question’ rather than merely relying on knowledge. It’s not clear if the software will actually learn over time which indicators really do lead to the ‘best’ package or if it’s simply a case of being fast rather than ‘smart’.
It’s still an experimental project, so this time round at least a human editor will review each package before giving the go-ahead to make the video live.