Amazon is looking to nurture the next generation of scriptwriters, directors and cinematographers with a new, free online tool called Amazon Storyteller, which helps convert initial scripts into dynamic and professional storyboards.
The project is currently in beta, but can automatically identify scenes, locations and characters from a script that has been uploaded to Amazon Studios, the company’s division for developing exclusive movies, comics and television shows. It then “casts” these objects from a library of assets that includes “thousands” of characters, props and backgrounds.
Now, it’s perfectly possible – and likely – that scriptwriters will have ideas and concepts that have never been conceived before. It’s why professional studios hire concept artists to help visualize some of their initial ideas. To this end, Storyteller also gives users the option to upload their own images, as well as change the facial expressions and positions of characters, add captions to explain the action or offer some additional dialogue.
The storyboard can then be published to Amazon Studios, where other users can check it out and leave feedback.
“We’ve found that many writers want to see their story up on its feet in visual form but find it harder than it should be to create a storyboard,” said Roy Price, Director of Amazon Studios.
“Storyteller provides a digital backlot, acting troupe, prop department and assistant editor – everything you need to bring your story to life. We want to see great stories turned into movies and television shows and we’ll continue to develop new features and tools.”
Amazon recently commissioned five original shows to be produced and distributed through its on-demand movie and TV streaming services, Amazon Instant Video and LOVEFiLM. Fourteen pilots were originally uploaded to Amazon, where users could watch them individually and leave feedback. The company says these comments were used to choose which shows were green-lighted for a full series.
If Amazon is to compete with Netflix, however, it needs to have an exclusive content offering that can match House of Cards and the relaunched Arrested Development. The quality of the aforementioned pilots suggests that Amazon still has a way to go before it can match Netflix, but its efforts to find new talent and ideas – highlighted through the launch of Amazon Storyteller today – are promising.
Amazon Studios launched in 2010 as a platform for film makers and script writers to get noticed by the media industry. Anyone can upload a script for free, after which they will be notified within 45 days if its been optioned. Amazon Studios reads and reviews all submissions too – it’s likely where its latest batch of pilots were sourced.
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