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Automatic Generation of Movie Trailers using Ontologies


Abstract and Figures

With the advances in digital audio and video analysis, automatic movie summarization has become an important field of research. Much of the work has been put into movie abstracting for large media databases. Looking at the topic from a different side, the movie industry has long since perfected the art of summarization in their advertising trailers to attract an audience. In this paper we introduce the approach of automatically generating entertaining Hollywood-like trailers based on a trailer grammar, enhanced by an ontology. The extraction of features from movies using state-of-the-art image and audio processing techniques builds the foundation for the selection of meaningful and usable material, which is re-assembled according to the defined rules. User testing of our automatically produced trailers shows that they are well accepted and in many ways comparable to professionally composed trailers.
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The SVP Group
Automatic Generation of Movie Trailers using Ontolo-
With the advances in digital audio and video analysis,
automatic movie summarization has become an impor-
tant field of research. Much of the work has been put into
movie abstracting for large media databases. Looking at
the topic from a different side, the movie industry has
long since perfected the art of summarization in their ad-
vertising trailers to attract an audience. In this paper we
introduce the approach of automatically generating enter-
taining Hollywood-like trailers based on a trailer grammar,
enhanced by an ontology. The extraction of features from
movies using state-of-the-art image and audio processing
techniques builds the foundation for the selection of
meaningful and usable material, which is re-assembled
according to the defined rules. User testing of our auto-
matically produced trailers shows that they are well ac-
cepted and in many ways comparable to professionally
composed trailers.
1 Introduction
2 Related Work
3 Formalism
3.1 The Definition of a Trailer in Respect to
Automatic Generation
3.2 The Syntactic Elements of a Trailer
3.3 The Semantic Elements of a Trailer
4 System Framework
4.1 Extracting and Annotating Movie Features
4.2 Generating Trailers of an Annotated Movie
5 Automatic Trailers for Action Movies
5.1 Applying the Rules to the Construction of a
5.2 3D Text Animations and Audio for Action Movie
6 Experimental Results
7 Conclusion and Future Work
1 Introduction
Although originally intended to advertise a certain movie, the short preview of a movie, i.e.,
trailer or teaser, has become an attractive movie genre in itself [Kernan 2004, Arijon 1991],
especially since many trailers are available on the Internet. With the development of cur-
rent digital technology the question arises if and to what extent it is feasible to automate
the process of trailer production based solely on a high-level analysis of the original movie.
Such a system could provide improvements in different movie-related fields. For example,
it could suggest innovative ways of video browsing in digital movie databases in a way that
those trailers could serve as a compact overview of a certain movie or to gain more control
especially in movie-on-demand system through movie indexing, retrieval, and browsing
The SVP-Group is in alphabetical order: Christoph Brachmann, Hashim I. Chunpir, Silke Gennies, Benja-
min Haller, Thorsten Hermes, Otthein Herzog, Arne Jacobs, Philipp Kehl, Astrid P. Mochtarram, Daniel
Möhlmann, Christian Schrumpf, Christopher Schultz, Björn Stolper, and Benjamin Walther-Franks.
2 IMAGE | Ausgabe 5 | 1/2007
(see [Chen et al. 2004]). Furthermore, it could help with developing and testing of experi-
ments to formalize existing movie editing methods (film theory), and simplify or even ex-
tend the work of editors/authors (see [Snoek & Worring 2005]).
In this paper, an automatic trailer generation system is introduced which covers three re-
search challenges. First, a formalism is proposed that describes the basic components of
a trailer. Second, video content analysis methods are presented that provide these single
components. Finally, a methodology is shown that selects and composes the components
according to the given formalism.
This paper is organized as follows. In section 2 a brief overview about previous work re-
lated to automatic trailer generation is given. Section 3 describes the formalism that we
developed and use as a basis for our system. This approach is based on an ontology, and
according to [Chen et al. 2004] one could say it is like a grammar for an automatic trailer
generation, but we consider our approach as rule-based. Section 4 illustrates our system
framework that based on the given set of rules is capable of analyzing a movie first,
and then is able to generate trailers of this analyzed and annotated movie. In section 5 we
present the application of our system to generate trailers for current Hollywood action mov-
ies along with an evaluation of the corresponding output in section 6. Finally, section 7
draws a conclusion and addresses possible aspects of future work.
2 Related Work
In this section we provide a very brief overview of touching approaches since the specific
way of generating movie trailers has only little related work so far. One can say that area
of automatic trailer generation is a rather untouched field of research. However, the more
general task of summarizing video content is a wide field of research.
The works of [Chen et al. 2004] and [Lienhart et al. 1997] come closest to our goal. Both
mention the possibility of generating a movie trailer explicitly. And furthermore, both point
out to do the composition of footage according to rules derived from film theory and pre-
sent ways to retrieve crucial information for trailer generation. But they do not focus on
how to compose trailers. Only [Chen et al. 2004] uses the definition of tempo in order to
generate action trailers. Although the film theory is valuable in the analysis of the footage
deriving high-level features from low level features, it is not completely applicable for the
generation of a movie trailer.
Since a movie trailer is a kind of abstract of a movie other works within the field of video
abstracting or summarization rather focus on the task of pure summarizing in order to pro-
vide means to handle the increasing amount of video data. One could find three basic ap-
proaches. The first one is video skimming as, e.g., in [Christel et al. 1999] or [Smith & Ka-
nade 1998] where video material is analyzed and condensed to important scenes. Typi-
cally the linearity of the input video is preserved. The second basic approach is summariz-
ing contents in a pictorial way [Uchihashi et al. 1999, Yeung & Yeo 1997]. In [Uchihashi et
al. 1999] in a first step salient single frames of video sequences are captured. In a second
step these frames are sized according to their importance, and finally arranged in a third
step in a linear comic-like, story-telling way. The third video browsing approach is closely
related to the pictorial summarization but focuses on a hierarchical, not necessarily linear
way of presenting the video content [Ponceleon & Dieberger 2001, Zhang et al. 1993].
The degree of automation varies. Completely automatic approaches are [Lienhart et al.
1997, Smith & Kanade 1998, Uchihashi et al. 1999]. Typical for these approaches of
automatic summaries is the high dependency on low level analysis of image and audio. A
so-called semi-automatic approach can be found in [Zhu et al. 2003]. The semi-automatic
summary tools provide some manual annotation framework enabling high-level analysis to
conclude what is happening in a scene. Another interesting work is [Ma et al. 2002], focus-
ing on the question of how a video is perceived by a user.
Finally, while some works – [Lienhart et al. 1997, Smith & Kanade 1998, Zhu et al. 2003]
can be applied to a wide variety of footage, others focus on a specific type of video data,
e.g., sports [Babaguchi et al. 2005].
An extensive overview of “State-of-the-Art” video indexing from the author’s point of view
can be found in [Snoek & Worring 2005].
3 Formalism
In the scope of re-assembling movie footage in a short video that can be labeled as a
trailer, first the meaning of this label has to be understood. According to [Arijon 1991] films
are created based on an underlying Film Grammar to successfully communicate with the
audience. In [Kernan 2004] it is stated that a trailer is also a movie genre of its own right.
Therefore we assume that trailers - being a special kind of film – can be described by syn-
tactic elements and semantic rules. One will say that this constitutes a trailer grammar but
we will stay to a rule-based system. To implement an automatic trailer generator these
rules have to be understood and modeled in a way that a computer can execute genera-
tive algorithms according to them. The problem therefore demands understanding, extract-
ing, and formalizing two items: the trailer’s syntactic elements (section 3.2), and its seman-
tic rules (3.3). Before looking at these, we give a definition of the term ‘trailer’ within the
context of automatic generation.
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3.1 The Definition of a Trailer in Respect to Automatic Generation
[Kernan 2004] points out that the name trailer refers to the fact that these short movies
were originally shown at the end of a film program in movie theaters. But nowadays trailers
were normally shown before the main movie. During the 20th century, trailers evolved from
a mere advertisement to a movie genre with its own unique conventions, based on the
demand to combine an artistic form with the highly commercial need of drawing the big-
gest possible audience into the theaters by presenting every movie in the most attractive
While movies and trailers exist in many different forms according to different cultural
environments, our automatic approach is based on the Western culture’s most dominant
trailer and movie industry: Hollywood blockbuster cinema. Although trailers from this
domain have developed a general formula that pays as little attention to genre or specific
target groups as possible – to attract literally everybody and lead to an “undifferentiation of
audiences” they still have to reflect the movie in question to a certain extent [Kernan
2004]. Furthermore, our aim is to produce short videos that resemble rather conventional
Theatrical Trailers by having a length of more than one minute and featuring footage from
the original movie. These are opposed to so-called Teaser Trailers, which are typically pro-
duced before primary shooting is finished and consist mostly of texts, voice-overs, and
graphic elements, and which have a maximum running length of one minute. In the follow-
ing the term trailer therefore will be used referring to a theatrical trailer for a contemporary
Hollywood movie.
3.2 The Syntactic Elements of a Trailer
The basic elements of any edited movie are usually shots and transitions. We assume that
within these elements certain types of shots and transitions can be identified by a shot-by-
shot analysis of original movie trailers. In order to determine these types, an appropriate
set of descriptions, i.e., an appropriate vocabulary, has to be defined. Since our goal is to
implement a completely automatic system for trailer generation, we consider the restric-
tions imposed by the technical feasibility when setting up such a vocabulary. This inevita-
bly causes a quality loss but cannot be avoided in our case. Furthermore, there is a trade-
off concerning the level of detail when defining the appropriate descriptions for shots. If the
detail is too high, the shot descriptions are only suitable for a very specific situation in one
trailer. On the other hand, if the level of detail is too low, they are too general and have
very little meaning. That is why the resulting types of shots have to:
a) be able to cover all shots of a trailer,
b) be clearly distinguishable from each other (no redundancy),
c) have a well-defined meaning,
d) apply to as many existing trailers as possible, and
e) be defined based on the information which will be extracted from the movie by our
automatic analysis tools (technical feasibility).
Besides this, describing the transitions is easier since they follow the known conventions
of the film grammar. Well-known transitions are for example hard-cuts, fade-ins, and fade-
In order to distinguish between the original movie and trailer shots, and the shots we pro-
duce for our trailers we refer to the latter ones as clips, and in order to fulfill the require-
ments listed above we define the types of the clips by the following properties:
a category (reflecting the shot’s formal features),
the playback speed (to model effects like slow-motion or acceleration),
the volume of the original footage sound (so that clips can be muted or amplified),
and location, corresponding to the footage location in the source movie.
3.3 The Semantic Elements of a Trailer
Once clips and transitions are identified and described as syntactic elements of a trailer,
semantic rules are needed to assemble these elements in a trailer-like way. We propose to
represent these rules as a hierarchy of super- and sub-patterns as shown in Figure 1.
Each super-pattern consists of a number of sub-patterns either in a certain order or as a
random choice.
The highest level of patterns is the Trailer Pattern. Since there is not only one universal
pattern that can describe all trailers at once, this pattern can be used to distinguish be-
tween different types of trailers. For example, one Trailer Pattern could stand for action
movie trailers, and another Trailer Pattern could stand for a romantic movie trailer.
In our model every trailer can be subdivided into a number of different narrative blocks,
which we call Phases. These Phase Patterns could one of the five following phases we
identified in contemporary trailers: Intro, Story, Break, Action, and Outro (see also section
The Phase Patterns again are composed of Sequence Patterns, which in turn consist of a
number of Clip/Transition Pairs. These Pairs are the lowest level of the hierarchy. There-
fore, a trailer is described by a linear list of clips joined by transitions. The intention behind
the modeling of a trailer in such a way is to represent the trailer grammar as precise as
possible, while preserving the highest possible amount of flexibility.
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Figure 1: A branch of the hierarchical view of a generic trailer structure
4 System Framework
Our system framework comprises two major components. The first one is a collection of
various low- and high-level image and audio processing modules, which provides informa-
tion about a given movie by extracting a set of features. Each analysis module is described
in the following sections 4.1.2 to 4.1.13. The second component provides an implementa-
tion of the proposed trailer rule base, which is described in detail in sections 4.2.1 to 4.2.6.
This component is able to categorize the annotated information of the first component and
to use that data to automatically assemble a full trailer.
4.1 Extracting and Annotating Movie Features
In order to extract features of a given movie we use on the one side methods of image and
audio analysis on different levels of abstraction, and on the other side we derive data from
Internet resources. By combining the output of several modules with each other we extend
the complexity and reliability of the annotated data. Figure 2 gives an overview of the in-
terdependencies among the single modules.
As a ground truth we manually annotated the movie The Transporter (2002) and we
adapted the performance scale of precision P and recall R to frame ranges as following
P number of relevant frame ranges retrieved
number of frame ranges retrieved
R number of relevant frame ranges retrieved
number of relevant frame ranges
Figure 2: Overview of the modules for extracting features and their dependencies on each other
Therefore, we have a basis for evaluating the output of every module on basis of the ap-
proach of information retrieval. In the following section each single module is described
along with the corresponding movie feature(s) it is providing.
4.1.1 Internet Resources
The Internet resources of the Internet Movie Database1 (IMDb) are used to augment and
enhance the generation of the trailer with automatically extracted data such as movie title,
director, actors, genre, awards won and production company, which are used to generate
credits for the trailer. In addition, famous quotes of the selected movie are extracted and
used to perform a keyword-spotting in the speech recognition module.
This module is realized as a Python script using the IMDbPY2 package to retrieve and
manage the desired data of the IMDb.
4.1.2 Shot Detection
In order to detect shot boundaries we use an existing tool that was developed by other
members of our research group [Miene et al. 2001]. However, our system just incorporates
the shot boundary detection by the Gray Histogram X2 Feature extraction so only hard cuts
are detected. We set the adaptive threshold Thpercentage to 7 and the minimum frame num-
ber to 7, which results in precision and recall values of 0.93 each. In addition, we calculate
average color values for each detected shot. In future, the precision and recall values
should be improved by extracting other features and detecting other transition types, e.g.,
4.1.3 Motion-based Segmentation
We also segment a movie into frame ranges with homogeneous motion intensities. First,
motion intensities are calculated for each pair of adjacent frames by the pyramidal imple-
1 Cf.
2 Cf.
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mentation of the Lucas Kanade feature tracker provided by the OpenCV library3. Due to its
pyramidal approach, it deals with small and large motions in a balanced way. After the cal-
culation, we add up all feature motions except for the ones below a certain threshold Tmin-
FeatMot in order to disregard hardly noticeable motion. Furthermore, the calculated sum is
reduced if the image brightness is low, as black frames tend to cause high motion intensity
because of encoding artefacts. We also reduce this sum for a frame pair corresponding to
a hard cut, as such a transition naturally causes high motion intensity.
Now, we use a grid of several motion classes in order to classify each frame pair motion
according to its motion intensity per feature. Adjacent frames with the same class are then
combined to frame ranges. In order to avoid too short motion frame ranges we define a
minimum length. If a frame range has a length below this threshold TminLen then it is com-
bined with the neighboring frame range. The results of the motion-based segmentation run
on nine test movies were very satisfying, particularly concerning frame ranges with very
low and very high motion intensity, respectively. Future work should extend the movement
information by differentiating between camera (zoom, pan, etc.) and object motion.
4.1.4 Face Detection
In order to find actor appearances within a movie, we use the basic face detection algo-
rithm provided by the OpenCV library, which uses the Haarcascade classifier [Lienhart &
Maydt 2002] for detection with a minimum of three neighbors used for grouping. After the
detection process we cluster single detected faces to sequences so that we can define a
frame range for an appearance of an actor. Variables considered during this clustering
process are face deviation in size and position within a frame along with a threshold for
closing gaps between successive frames caused by occlusions or head movement. For
computing a mean face image and for the later definition of a subspace during the face
recognition we use a publicly available face database4. The faces out of this database are
all frontal faces in different lighting conditions without any rotation. We compute the dis-
tance of every face in a sequence to the mean image, i.e., to the mean face. The face that
performs best is chosen to be the representative for the sequence. We assume that a
small distance indicates a frontal face barely rotated. This distance along with face size in
comparison to the frame width of the movie gives hints on close-up shots and not being a
false positive.
The face detection achieves a precision of 0.8 and the distance to the mean image pre-
vents many of the false positives of being used. However, future work should certainly in-
volve a human skin detection to provide even more robust results.
3 Cf.
4 Cf.
4.1.5 Face Recognition
For face recognition we decided on using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) as used in
[Yambor 2000]. For the normalization process we implement a search for corners with big
eigenvalues within an image to identify eye and mouth candidates. A problem arises, when
only parts of a face are exposed to sunlight because they tend to produce stronger corners
than parts left in shade. In order to compensate this, we impose a minimum distance be-
tween two points. We now search for strong corners as candidates with different distances
imposed, compute a transformation matrix for every possible combination of candidates
and apply it onto the face image. Our normalization outcome is a face image of 25x25 pix-
els with a mask applied on it occluding the background. We use 90 eigenfaces for the pro-
jection and do a k-means clustering on the results. We assume that the biggest cluster will
be the cluster containing the first main actor, so that we achieve a precision of 0.59 and a
recall of 0.16. Future work will be to implement a clustering that can deal with an unknown
number of classes, and to produce a better homogeneity. Furthermore, it is necessary to
improve the results of the face recognition by utilizing other techniques such as Elastic
Bunch Graph Matching (EBGM; see [Wiskott et al. ]1997).
4.1.6 Text Detection
The text detection is done by an existing tool of our research group first realized in
[Wilkens 2003], which is specifically designed to find overlaid text in video. We use a 3x3
edge filter subtracting the lowest value from the center value for preprocessing. We then
consider any group of more than three characters as text and choose rather strict settings
in terms of deviation in tracking, horizontal spacing, vertical and horizontal scaling to keep
the false positive rate as low as possible. This is important as shots containing text mostly
end up in the black list during the generation process and we do not want to loose valuable
shots. In case of our reference movie, the tool achieves a precision of 0.92 and a recall of
4.1.7 Sound Volume-based Segmentation
Quiet portions of the movie will probably not contain action sequences but rather dialogs or
scenery shots. Low volume can therefore be a very reliable indicator for falsely detected
explosions, gunfire or other action-related elements. On the other hand, high volume can
be a clue for action scenes, loud music or other noisy settings. One problem for the meas-
urement of the audio volume is its quick fluctuation. It can vary significantly from one
movie frame to the next. It is necessary to smooth the intensities over a range of many
frames to get more stable and meaningful values. While smoothing the audio intensities
and grouping them into frame regions it is desirable to assign these regions to portions of
audio that maintain a relatively constant level. The borders to the neighboring regions
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should be placed wherever there is a significant change in audio volume. We propose to
set the starting points for the regions to the points of minimal change in the smoothing
function. The borders between the regions are then adjusted so that the error in respect to
the region’s average is minimized.
4.1.8 Sudden Volume Change Detection
A sudden increase in the loudness of movie audio is a clue for a deliberately integrated
surprise element. We define such an increase as an extended period of quiet audio, e.g.,
one second, followed directly by a noisy part, where a high level of audio is sustained for
another second. This definition makes sure that short bursts of loud audio will not be
counted. For various movies, these sudden volume changes are often explosions, crashes
or surprise attacks. However, not all volume increases are necessarily due to spectacular
effect scenes. Sometimes the contrast of volume is used to emphasize the harsh cut from
a quiet scene to a loud setting, such as to a disco or a factory hall.
4.1.9 Speech Detection
We perform a segmentation of the movie into speech and non-speech. A segmentation
using the Bayesian Information Criterion (BIC) and zero-crossings as described in [Biatov
& Köhler 2003] is only applicable on radio or TV broadcast news, consisting of clear
speech, silence and music without overlay. For a good and reliable segmentation of Holly-
wood movies these methods give no valuable results. In our approach, a speech recogni-
tion is performed on the movie using the CMU Sphinx 3.55 speech recognition system in
combination with the pre-trained open source HUB4 acoustic models and the small AN4 3-
gram language model based on 130 words and numbers. Finding speech in the movie,
even when disturbing music and background noise is present, works very well because
only the found frame ranges are used and the content of the speech is not important.
After running the speech recognition, the extracted frame ranges represent single words
recognized by the speech recognition system. In order to reduce false positives, all frame
ranges F (fs < F < fe) with F > 18 frames are removed. By combining frame ranges that
have a distance between each other of f2s - f1e < 50 frames a complete dialogue structure
can be formed. The evaluation of the accuracy of the system results in a precision of 0.79
and recall of 0.77 at a real time computation speed. Most of the false positives are singing
artists in the background music.
5 Cf.
4.1.10 Speech Recognition
The speech recognition module performs a keyword spotting to find the frame ranges that
comprise the given famous quotes extracted from the IMDb by the Internet resources
module. A typical speech recognition system uses phoneme-based acoustic models in
combination with a word or syllable-based language model [Schrumpf et al. 2005]. In re-
search, the most often used data is clearly spoken broadcast news without background
noise or music. In contrast, Hollywood movies contain lots of overlays of speech, music,
and special sound effects. In addition, some other factors like slang, blurring of word
boundaries, strong variations in articulation, and speaker- or character-dependent charac-
teristics make it even more difficult to achieve good results in this scenario.
Our module uses the CMU Sphinx 3.5 speech recognition system in combination with the
pre-trained open source HUB4 acoustic models and a language model built out of the ex-
tracted quotes. By means of the CMU-Cambridge Statistical Language Modeling toolkit6
the language model is built and the text-to-phone software addttp47 is used to build the
word-phoneme dictionary. The difference to other language models is the fact that our lan-
guage model uses each quote as one entity in the model and we only build uni-gram mod-
els, because there are no dependencies between single quotes.
After performing the speech recognition, the frame range with the highest probability is se-
lected for every quote. This results in a precision and a recall of 0.67 each at a computa-
tion speed of 5 times real time. The result of the recognition highly depends on the quality
of the IMDb quotes, which sometimes are not verbatim and thus cannot be found by the
system. The next step to enhance the results would be to train acoustic models on manu-
ally annotated Hollywood movies. This would incorporate background noise and music into
the acoustic models and make it more fitting for this domain.
4.1.11 Shout Detection
We also try to locate frame ranges in the movie where people shout by combining the out-
put of the speaker detection and the sound volume-based segmentation. The program
searches for frame ranges where the normalized sound volume v with 0 v 1 exceeds a
threshold vt 0.5. Only frame ranges of the speech detection that are at the same range
as the thresholded sound volume are extracted. The recognition works with a precision of
0.5 and a recall of 0.15. Half of the falsely classified ranges are screams that are very
close to shouts.
6 Cf.
7 Cf.
8 Cf.
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4.1.12 Music Detection
The module detects music in the audio signal. The method we use was first proposed by
[Minami et al. 1998]. Additionally, considering the method proposed in [Hawley 1993] we
take stable power spectrum peaks as an indicator for music. An image-based approach is
used to measure the presence of horizontal lines in the spectrum. The detection algorithm
takes slices of a length of 10 seconds and calculates the power spectrum for 371 fre-
quency bands up to 4kHz. A strong horizontal blurring operator is applied to the resulting
spectral gray-scale image in order to emphasize horizontal lines and reduce other patterns
(e.g., speech or noise). After an edge detection the image is binarized so that only horizon-
tal lines longer than a certain threshold tlength are kept. For each time frame of a length of
1.5 seconds the sum of the edge pixels within this frame is considered to indicate music if
it exceeds a defined threshold tI. In addition, we use the distance of the sum to tI as a de-
gree of disturbance of the music. With tlength = 16 px and tI = 450 px we achieve a precision
of 0.95 and a recall of 0.87. This could be improved by including a beat detection algorithm
as an additional feature.
4.1.13 Sound Event Detection
Our system implements a high-level sound detection method that can search the audio
track of a movie for a number of previously learned sounds. We search for gunshots, ex-
plosions, crashes and screams in order to identify the movie’s most dramatic and enter-
taining scenes.
Our approach is similar to the method proposed in [Hoiem et al. 2005]. For training, a
small number of short example sounds between 0.5 and 2.5 seconds is cut from typical
action movies and transformed into a simplified spectral representation with 17 frequency
bands. A set of 63 descriptive features is then calculated from each sound. Among these
features are the intensities in the different bands along with their standard deviation, a
measure for the fluctuation of the overall intensity and rising or falling energy from start to
end. The feature set is designed to be robust against differences in volume or length of the
samples. The feature vectors from the positive and a great number of negative examples
are then used to train a Support Vector Machine (SVM) for each sound type separately,
using the LIBSVM8 implementation.
In order to search a movie for any of the sound types, we traverse the movie in small steps
of 0.1 seconds and calculate the above feature vectors over a length of 800ms (for gun-
shots), 1200ms (crashes and screams) to 2000ms (explosions). The compared length
should roughly match the length of the training samples.
The test movie performs with a precision of 0.4 and a recall rate of 0.4 for portions with
gunshots. Problems arise if movies use sounds that are too different from the training ex-
amples, like futuristic weapons, or have very different audio characteristics in general (e.g.,
older movies in comparison to today’s movies). The shrill nature of sounds is often mis-
taken for screaming by the SVM classification. Loud music is also a source for misclassifi-
cation, as beats can be mistaken for gunshots or other types of crashing sounds. In gen-
eral, the selection of training sounds has the greatest effect on the performance of the
To improve the precision of the sound detection we use the output of other modules to fil-
ter out false positives. The sound volumes are used as a filter to count only loud enough
sounds. Results from the music detection help to clean the list of detected gunshots from
music beats. Explosion sounds will only be counted if they are accompanied by a sudden
increase of brightness in the image histogram.
4.2 Generating Trailers of an Annotated Movie
After extracting the various features mentioned above, the second component of our sys-
tem comes into play. The annotated movie containing the extracted features is used in
combination with our semantic patterns in order to generate a trailer of the particular
movie. [Zhu et al. 2003] uses a hierarchy for video summarization quite similar to that de-
fined by our trailer rules base. However, it does not discuss video summarization for the
movie trailer format. Also, they solely work with available video and audio footage. Our ap-
proach uses additional automatically generated animations and adds music and sound ef-
fects from footage-unrelated audio sources. The process that we propose of automatically
generating trailers from annotated movies is split into the following sub-components:
Using a trailer rule base to create an abstract trailer structure that is used as a basis
the selection of video and animation footage as well as music and sound effects to
assemble a final trailer.
In Figure 3, the components of the generation process are displayed.
In more detail: In order to build a trailer we define a knowledge base that contains models
for trailer structure elements and defines parameters for categories of video footage frame
ranges. Before the generation process is started, we filter the movie annotation into the
syntactic elements clips and classify them into categories with the mentioned parameters.
Next, the trailer model is created based on rules in the knowledge base and influenced by
the availability of footage and certain random events. In this way, the system generates a
unique trailer model that is built to fit the available footage. The composition framework
9 Cf.
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Figure 3: Diagram of the trailer generation process
translates the established trailer structure into specific trailer elements: Apart from video
footage we incorporate runtime-created text animations for movie title, credits etc., as well
as prepared music and sound effects content from our own audio archive. Footage, text
animations, and audio are finally composed to a unique, fully automatically generated
trailer based on trailer semantics.
4.2.1 Knowledge Base Functionality
In order to incorporate trailer semantics, we implement a knowledge base that is designed
to hold the knowledge for trailer construction using the public domain software CLIPS9.
The underlying knowledge of trailer syntax and semantics is modeled in an ontology. This
trailer ontology includes classes for semantic structure elements (patterns) and syntactic
elements (clips, transitions). We use relations to model our hierarchical view of the trailer
structure with different types of patterns at the four upper levels and with different types of
clips and transitions at the lowest level. The properties of clips (category, speed, volume,
location) are implemented as slots and among these the category is implemented as a
class of several slots again, specifying a list of video analysis attributes for its classifica-
tion. The combination of several annotation attributes to a category leads to semantic
higher-level knowledge about the footage.
Figure 4: The intersection approach of the categorizer for sample footage
4.2.2 Categorization
Given a set of category definitions from the knowledge base the categorization module
processes the annotation data in order to build clips for each category. We propose to
build the clips based on frame ranges as opposed to a shot-based approach. As [Davis
1993] points out, a frame range approach allows the categorization process to be inde-
pendent from scene/shot information and can provide categorized footage that starts or
ends within a shot, or ranges over several shots. Hence, the main challenge is to deter-
mine frame ranges of the annotated movie, which match a certain category description
from the knowledge base. Let A be a set of video frames and Amovie the set containing all
original movie frames, then the frame set of an analyzed movie feature Afeature x
(e.g., all
frames showing a face) is a subset of Amovie. The first step of the categorization process is
to filter out the desired frames by corresponding thresholds (e.g., only get big faces indi-
cating a close-up shot). This results in a new set which we refer to as an attribute frame
set Aattribute x with the following relations:
Aattribute x Afeature x Amovie
As illustrated in Figure 4, we process these attribute frame sets as tracks and perform an
intersection of them. Furthermore, for each clip we calculate a probability value based on
weighting factors assigned to the attributes. The result of the categorization process is a
certain amount of footage clips for each category defined in our knowledge base.
4.2.3 Trailer Structure
Once the movie footage has been segmented and categorized, information about the
amount of clips within each category is handed to the knowledge base. The system then
builds the trailer structure on an abstract level. In order to introduce variety into the trailer
models, each semantic element in our hierarchy has a selection choice of lower level ele-
ments assigned to it. These lists specifically define which items of a lower level a higher
132 IMAGE | Ausgabe 5 | 1/2007
one may select. Thus, while offering multiple choices at each node in the trailer structure
tree, the sequence of patterns can still be controlled to ensure consistency with the given
trailer grammar. This approach grants easy and fast altering of the structure by linking
more sub-patterns to a super-pattern or by deleting links. To avoid a purely random selec-
tion of a linked sub-pattern and to emphasize patterns that are more frequently used in
movie trailers, a weighting system is attached to the selection logic. Based on the trailer
ontology and on the availability of categories the knowledge base reasons about which
parts of the trailer structure fulfill all requirements. In case of certain parts failing due to
lack of footage, fallback structures are considered first. If no such fallback exists clip attrib-
utes are loosened: clips can then be chosen from random categories rather than specific
ones. The result is a finished model of a trailer structure giving detailed information about
which transitions to use, which background music to play, which clips of which category to
show, what position within the movie they should come from, what speed they should be
played at, and how high the volume of the original footage should be.
4.2.4 Selection of Clips
The footage clip objects in the trailer model come with properties regarding clip category,
footage volume, speed, and location for footage selection. Footage clips are always se-
lected from those matching the category of the clip object. Within this limitation, our system
has three methods for clip selection:
Preferred location selection, based purely on the requested location and clip loca-
tion in the movie, so the clip chosen is the one closest to the requested location.
Best clip from preferred location, which is similar to the preferred location selection
with an addition of taking the quality of the clip into consideration so the clip chosen
is the best clip available starting from the requested location.
A random clip of a given category is selected.
4.2.5 3D Text Animations and Audio
Text animations displaying information on movie title, release date, actor names, movie
company as well as legal disclaimers are one distinctive feature of movie trailers and an
essential component of a trailer structure. Our system uses the 3D software Blender10,
which offers animation and render control via Python scripts. Given a set of certain anima-
tion templates the composition system dynamically creates a script from which Blender
produces one digital video file per animation ready to be used for final composition.
10 Cf.
For additional music soundtrack and sound effects we provide the possibility to incorporate
pre-produced sound files. Music files can be assigned to different trailer phases (that have
to be predefined for a specific trailer pattern), while sound effects are divided into types.
For every phase or element we have a choice of audio files.
4.2.6 Final Composition
Selected footage, animation clips and audio soundtrack are composed into a final video
using Avisynth11 scripts. Text animations are given sound effects to improve their effect.
Changes in trailer soundtrack are masked by special transition sound effects. Fade/flash
shot transitions (as determined by the trailer structure model) are implemented. The result
is the finished trailer modeled according to a trailer structure created using our trailer on-
5 Automatic Trailers for Action Movies
Most trailers try to summarize the plot and setting of the announced movie and to intro-
duce the relations between the main characters. Presently, the automatic extraction,
analysis and generation of a narrative, or at least some kind of dramatic arc, seem hardly
feasible. Therefore, our approach focuses on a genre that relies significantly more on vis-
ual sensation, speed and effects, than on narrative: the action movie. In order to generate
trailers for this genre, specific grammar elements of action movie trailers need to be identi-
fied. In the next section we present parts of our sample pattern using a specific set of sub-
patterns, clips, and transitions, which is based on a shot-by-shot analysis of various action
movie trailers from the last 15 years.
5.1 Applying the Rules to the Construction of a Trailer
We explicitly define 3 transition and 38 clip types, derived from 26 clip categories listed in
Table 1. The definition of each category includes an appropriate set of attributes along with
specific value ranges for the annotated features (tlo, thi) and weighting factors (wattr). One
example of such a definition is shown in Table 2. An extension of our set of categories is
possible and would be necessary to model and generate more complex trailers. On the
second level of our hierarchy we identify five different phases (which are composed by a
number of sub-patterns) as the basic structure in most action trailers. They are:
Y Intro (slow and moody shots of locations and people together with speech establish-
ing a conflict or introducing the main characters)
11 Cf.
IMAGE | Ausgabe 5 | 1/2007
Figure 5: 18 of 56 clips showing parts of our automatically generated Terminator 2 trailer
(complete Intro Phase: 1-6, middle part of the Action Phase: 35-41, and complete Outro
Phase: 53-56). The corresponding type of category is given below each clip.
Y Story (medium fast shots of action and people together with dialogue to wrap up the
task the main characters have to face)
Y Break (a long and very significant or dramatic comment by one of the main charac-
ters - typically without background music)
Y Action (a fast montage with loud sound of the fastest action scenes together with
close-ups of the main characters)
Y Outro (typically very calm or without any music and shows sometimes mixed with
close-ups or a short shot of one of the main characters uttering an extremely comic
or tough comment – the title and credits of the movie together with a release date)
Table 1: Clip Category and Phase Pattern
relations in our sample Trailer Pattern (CU:
close-up). I stands for Intro, S for Story, B for
Break, A for Action, and O for Outro
Attribute tlo thi wattr
Movement 0.000 0.003 0.2
SoundVolume 0.0 0.1 0.1
Text -1.0 0.0 0.1
Duration 60 500 0.1
CharacterFace -1.0 0.0 0.3
CharacterSpeech -1.0 0.0 0.1
MovieLocation 0.2 0.9 0.1
Table 2: Parameters for the Setting
With the defined elements (clips, transitions and patterns), as well as their relations to
each other we are finally able to describe a simple action movie trailer in a formal way.
This description can be used by our system to generate an action trailer from any movie
Transition   
FadeBlack x x  x
FlashWhite   x
HardCut x x x x x
Footage Clip 
Character1CUSilent x x x x
Character1CUSpeaking x x 
Character1Silent x x x x
Character1Speaking x x 
PersonCUSilent x x x x
PersonCUSpeaking x x 
PersonSilent x x x x
PersonSpeaking x x 
x x x x
QuoteLong x x x
Explosion x x
x x
Gunshot   x
FastAction   x
SlowAction x x
Spectacular   x x
x x
Scream   x
x x 
Animation Clip 
ActorName   x
CompanyName x x 
   x
DirectorProducer x 
Greenscreen x  
x x 
   x
136 IMAGE | Ausgabe 5 | 1/2007
(as long as the automatic analysis provides enough footage for the different categories). In
a simplified schematic way the relation between categories (being the basis for the clips),
transitions and patterns that constitute our trailer structure can be described in a two-
dimensional matrix as in Table 1.
5.2 3D Text Animations and Audio for Action Movie Trailers
In order to include text animations we provide our system with four animation templates
which all have a different artistic style. Our audio archive is a collection of pre-produced
sound files and consists currently of 37 music files and 22 sound effect files. Currently we
use four categories of music files according to the mood of our trailer phases (Intro, Story,
Action, Outro) and three sound effect types that are mostly used in professional trailers
(“boom”, “woosh” and “wooshbang”).
6 Experimental Results
In order to evaluate the quality of our trailers, we asked 59 people to evaluate seven test
trailers. For each of the trailers, the test people were asked to state whether they have
seen the movie and to rate the same six aspects (with 1 as the lowest and 10 as the high-
est score). The test set comprised:
Y Two professional trailers: War of the Worlds (Golden Trailer Award winner 2005)
and Miami Vice
Y One trailer for The Transporter produced by the video generation software muveeTM
(random shot selection)12
Y Two trailers produced by our system with different levels of randomness: Bad Boys
(random frame ranges), Blade (random clip selection)
Y Two trailers produced by our system based on our Trailer Patterns: Transporter 2
and Terminator 2
Except for the last trailer (Terminator 2, see Fig. 5), the test people did not know how the
trailers were produced. After the impression of all trailers, the test people had the opportu-
nity to watch any trailer again in case they wanted to adjust the ratings. The detailed
scores of all trailers are shown in Table 3. As expected, the overall rating of the random
trailers is significantly lower than any of the others, while War Of The Worlds performed
best (see Fig. 6). The Miami Vice trailer that had been chosen as an example for a low-
quality professional trailer was indeed given a bad score. Our own generated trailers
reached an average score of 7.29 and 7.26, respectively. More than 80% of the viewers
12 Cf.
Table 3: Detailed scores from the user testing;
ss stands for scene selection, co for composition,
ce for cuts & effects, ci for character introduction, pi
for plot introduction, and av for advertisement value
Figure 6: Mean score of the test trailers
rated them at score 7 or better. The question whether people had seen a movie or not
seemed to have little or no impact on their judgment.
According to our survey, the weakest elements of our trailers are the introduction of main
characters and topic / storyline with each around 6 points on average. This score is still
good regarding the fact that we could not deliberately include those aspects into our trail-
ers. A possible conclusion is that an illusion of storytelling and character introduction is
created by extensively using quotes. At the end of the test screening, we asked the test
viewers to rate the importance of six different aspects for Hollywood trailers. In average,
people voted mostly for an even balance of the aspects. A slightly larger share was given
to ‘dramaturgy’ (20.51%) and ‘action scenes’ (18.77%). The importance of ‘voice-over’ and
‘illusion of speed’ was rated a little lower (12.58%, 13.13%). In relation to this, we asked
the viewers to rate the quality of integration in our Terminator 2 trailer for the same as-
pects. The smallest share of votes was achieved for ‘voice-over (9.28%). This was to be
expected since it is basically missing in any of our trailers. The best rates were given to
‘action scenes’ (22.26%), ‘music, animation and sound effects’ (18.6%) and ‘distinctive
pieces of dialogs and statements’ (18.19%). This shows that our attempts of automatic
categorization and composition appear to be successful in general. When interpreting the
test results, the number of test people and the fact that they were not chosen representa-
tively should be considered. However, the results suggest that our automatic trailers are in
most respects comparable to original trailers and may even be more accepted by audience
than low-quality professional trailers.
Sample trailers produced by our system can be downloaded from
ss co ce ci pi av
War of the
Worlds 8.41 7.91 7.79 7.47 7.40 8.16
Vice 4.97 6.27 6.27 3.27 3.59 4.95
Bad Boys 4.64 3.67 3.41 3.19 3.22 3.52
Blade 4.16 3.24 3.24 4.07 4.07 3.43
porter 2
2 7.58 7.63 6.36 6.88 7.46 7.37
138 IMAGE | Ausgabe 5 | 1/2007
7 Conclusion and Future Work
This paper presents a novel approach of intensively using a knowledge base (rules) in
combination with data automatically extracted out of a movie by different image and audio
analysis techniques for generating a Hollywood-like movie trailer. First, the rules were de-
fined which can be applied to various movie genres. Second, a system was implemented,
which provides means for using extracted features to build a trailer according to any de-
fined Trailer Pattern based on our trailer grammar. One such Trailer Pattern was created
by manually analyzing several action movie trailers. Using our system we generated trail-
ers for some action movies according to this pattern, and we evaluated our outcome.
After all, with our action movie trailers we proved that automatic trailer generation is not
only possible, but can even achieve good results. This has been proven by tests we con-
ducted with human subjects. Still, our trailers lack some elements a manually edited trailer
comprises, e.g., telling a coherent story or voice-over narration.
The system can be improved by enhancing the modules extracting the data and by ex-
panding the trailer grammar. Extensions of our modeled knowledge to incorporate editing
knowledge for trailers of other movie genres, less standardized trailers or even other video
summary formats are conceivable and can be achieved by adding more patterns, clips and
transitions. Also, the classification of movie footage into semantic categories could be ex-
panded by adding more categories (e.g., “kissing”, “fight”) based on more sophisticated
image and audio processing techniques. Concerning the composition framework, im-
provements and extensions for the animation and audio inclusion are conceivable, notably
to add more animation styles as templates and have a way of matching styles to movie
content. Finally, the effect of a generated trailer can also be vastly improved by adding
pre-produced generic voice-overs to the soundtrack.
A general different approach would be to manually add special information that might lead
to more artistic trailers but would result in the loss of total automatism.
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