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Apple Patent Shows Interest in Film Production, Script-Integrated Storyboards

A recently published patent application titled “SCRIPT-INTEGRATED STORYBOARDS” by Apple shows the company’s interest in stepping even deeper into the world of motion picture production.

The patent application explains how it would serve as a tool for film and video editors and producers. Storyboards are a way that people involved in a film’s production can communicate and visually represent their thoughts to one another. While Apple have a presence in professional grade film editing with software like Final Cut Pro, this patent applications shows interest in the other side of the process, actually shooting the film.

patent1
One illustration shows the proposed interface for script and actors.

Specifically, this piece of software would allow for those working on a film to visually place and arrange elements like the cameras and actors, while efficiently integrating in with the actual script. As InformationWeek explains, “…rather than being a purely visual aid for those behind the lens, the storyboards Apple has in mind could serve both crew and actors.” As the patent explains, the storyboards could be distributed to all members of the crew and production alike. In essence, the software would serve as another effective way of visually communicating thoughts across a team of people.

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Another shot of the interface shows script integration with a specific actor info card.

Apple describes the background on the patent as follows: Producing motion pictures can be an exciting project. Motion picture productions can range from major studio epics to documentaries produced by small independent film makers. The major studio epic can encompass a large cast and crew with large inventories of equipment, while the smaller film may include a smaller cast and crew with limited inventories. Even smaller productions may involve multiple locations and include multiple scenes with different shots within a scene.

Another description is as follows, “In one general sense, a storyboard presentation for a motion picture production is generated by launching a scene design tool that includes a camera placement tool and an actor placement tool. Using the actor placement tool, a first actor icon is added on a scene layout for a motion picture production, the first actor icon representing a first actor that will appear in a scene in the motion picture production. Using the camera placement tool, the first camera icon is added on a scene layout for the motion picture production, the first camera icon representing a first camera that will film the scene. The user is enabled to control a location and orientation of the first actor icon using the actor placement tool. The user also is enabled to control a location and orientation of the first camera icon relative to the first actor icon using the camera placement tool.”

Whether the patent application turns into an actual product has yet to be seen. But, it does make sense for Apple to have intentions on creating a symbiotic relationship between two pieces of software used for the same overall goal. With this proposed application and a nice marriage to Final Cut Pro, nearly everyone involved on a particular film, whether it be major motion pictures or a small independent filmmaker, would be able to seamlessly work together in an Apple ecosystem using specified hardware that’s in tune with the software being used. While it may seem like a locked down environment to some, the ease of use and stability this may provide would be nearly unmatched in the movie business. You can download the patent application’s full 36 page PDF here.

Comments [17]

17 Comments to “Apple Patent Shows Interest in Film Production, Script-Integrated Storyboards”

foil @ January 30th, 2009 at 4:45 pm
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Addition to Final Cut maybe?

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Kemeny_x @ February 1st, 2009 at 6:20 am
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add on for ilife?

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akamarkman @ February 1st, 2009 at 2:24 pm
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Final Cut Studio 3

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GetTheShot @ February 1st, 2009 at 2:58 pm
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Very reminiscent to the toolset of Celtx, a free open-source pre-production/production-management application.

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ms @ February 1st, 2009 at 9:48 pm
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Why aren’t more people annoyed by all these Apple patents. For one, it’s software that’s not out there yet. So why should any company be granted on something that doesn’t exist. Heck why not write up the patent before even starting development? All this does is stifle other inventors. If the product existed, it’s a little better, but it doesn’t so it’s just plain corrupt, defensive corporate patent bs. Too bad in the case of apple, they have too many mega-fans are so protective of their favorite products that they defend this kind of monopoly behavior that they normally abhor in other companies, such as Microsoft.

I’ve used storyboard software back in 1996, so they aren’t breaking new ground because they combine it with a script editor. It’s pretty clear that without an existing product they are just trying to hurt other developers and wield a big hammer. Here’s an idea. Sell software on quality, deal with competition.

I guess here’s where I have to say, “I actually own a macbook pro, and I like it” so I don’t get flamed or my comment deleted because I peed in somebody’s pool.

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Wes @ February 2nd, 2009 at 4:40 am
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You’re missing the entire point … Patents are examined: copyrights are registered.
It is a “patent application”; has no rights associated; is published to serve as notice to others what they are “claiming”; and, prior to 1999 this was kept entirely secret during prosecution.
No patent rights have been issued. But, Apple’s alleged innovation is avaable for the whole world to see (& perhaps improve on)

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ms @ February 3rd, 2009 at 10:23 pm
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I’m missing the point? A patent application is submitted in hopes be granted a patent. Patents are monopolies over the creation of an invention or product that is supposedly original. But unlike a physical product which a person could examine and freely recreate after the patent expiration, software doesn’t disclose any code. So the monopoly is granted without benefiting society after the expiration. If granted, Apple can and does sue people creating software similar, even if independently so as to protect it’s monopoly. Patents (Monopolies) on software are WAY too long, since it’s a faster paced industry. Also Apple submitted applications for the dock, the trashcan icon, multitouch (which it didn’t invent), many things that aren’t original work. Patent workers don’t always catch prior art, so patents are granted that are way too general that shouldn’t be. And companies use them to sue others and other companies.
And worse, companies will buy patents from others. So a company who never innovated anything is the business of suing people for patent infringment. Why don’t you do a little reading.
“Improve on” ? What are you talking about? The patent is no more helpful then the software itself will be if released. There is no improving on something with a patent application. You think it’s a USPTO wiki page or something?
Smarten up and read the software patent debate
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent_debate

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ms @ February 1st, 2009 at 9:49 pm
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Another shout out for Celtx. Not only open source, but free, and created by a great group from Canada.

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Madame @ February 2nd, 2009 at 12:30 am
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Addition to Final Cut maybe??

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Berdi @ February 2nd, 2009 at 5:08 am
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iMovie to a tee!

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Louise @ February 2nd, 2009 at 8:32 am
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So does that mean no-one else can develop storyboard and script integration software? This sounds a too weird to me, as we’ve been drawing storyboards with scripts in them for years!

Louise

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Curt @ February 2nd, 2009 at 11:01 am
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I would love to use this. I’d like to see it integrated with my stock footage library. Does anyone else think that would be cool.

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Daniel @ February 2nd, 2009 at 9:30 pm
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Sounds like what Xtranormal (http://www.xtranormal.com) is already doing.

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Ashley @ February 3rd, 2009 at 5:22 am
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Addition to Final Cut maybe???

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Hugo Mac @ February 15th, 2009 at 8:55 pm
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There are bunch of storyboard software options out there. I’ve always found them to be a bit of a waist of time. There is nothing better and quicker than just throwing down some rough sketches (even if they are stick figures) for boards and moving on. Who knows though. Apple has done a pretty good job coming up with some effective ways to work in post. Maybe they can bring that to pre-production. http://www.valleyofthesunfeaturefilmblog.com/

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Dragon @ February 16th, 2009 at 5:07 am
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I would kindly request from both APple and Microsoft to leave media software to creative people and creative companies, while gently placing focus on their Operating Systems that still greatly suck until today. It’s been 20 years since demise of SGI computers, and not Apple not Microsoft are even close to having same stability/simplicity/security that good old UNIX used to have in SGI times.

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Innoventive Software @ February 22nd, 2009 at 2:22 am
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Sound like something our product, FrameForge 3D Studio, has been doing for well over five years now… and Apple even carries the program on their online store!

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