#285: Cinemabilia

Product placement is centred on the idea that Tom Cruise’s use of an Apple machine on screen will encourage people to buy one (or feel better about having bought one). Cinema memorabilia, ie selling props used in films, is presumably driven by the same need which people have for glamour -even if only by association.

Today’s invention is a tool to allow people to buy products appearing in digital films.

Many frames in a movie would have the objects within them tagged. Clicking on the screen of a DVD player or laptop would cause the movie to pause and show detailed views of the item for sale, together with the price, options to bid in an auction or even lookalike merchandise versions. Viewers could then actually undertake the transaction before watching the rest of the film.


The tagging itself could be done manually or semiautomatically by image segmentation techniques (By first allowing a test audience to click on items they were interested in buying, a pattern of tag popularity could be developed. Those scenes which were tag-rich could be highlighted with a coloured dot appearing in one corner). It might even be possible to help this process by attaching a machine readable label to many props in a scene, tagging these locations and and then having the labels automatically ‘painted out’ in the final ‘print’.

Now that digital media prices are being forced down (due to the industry-wide failure to invest in security research) this provides both a way to add value to the original purchase and also extra revenue streams at different points in the value chain.

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