Kathleen Maher
Issue: Volume 41 Issue 4: (Edition 4 2018)


Ryff Brings Dynamic Product Placement to OTT Video Streaming VIA AI & VISUAL COMPUTING

Want to put a can of diet coke in the hand of the president while he's giving a press conference? Ryff can do that, and more. Take a little bit of AI, mix it with 3D awareness with marketing and advertising experience, and you might come up with something like Ryff, a new company that recently announced its new AI-driven product platform, Placer.

Ryff calls itself an "intelligent image platform" company, which means the company does product placement in live or pre-recorded video broadcast content. What makes it unique is that content can be placed dynamically, even changed. As a result, content can be tailored to the audience.

Currently, product placement is a well-understood medium. Products can be placed seamlessly. Ryff CEO and co-founder Roy Taylor compares the process to desktop publishing. The technology has rendered the process fluid and endlessly editable right up to the point of print, and then it's done. Likewise, in video product placement, changes can be made to the point of broadcast and then the content is flattened. The only way to change content is to recall and redo.

Ryff's COO and co-founder, Mark Turner, calls Ryff's technology "OTT" (over the top) streaming. It makes heavy use of cloud-based machine vision and machine learning, and is able to identify assets, log them, track them, and render them changeable. Ryff says it turns flattened media elements (MELs) into separate interchangeable entities, which can be seamlessly edited, deleted, and added as needed.

Owners of that content can decide permissions, rights, and monetization with trackability. The Ryff platform manages content, placement, and accounting for its customers.

"Where previously a car company might put a single model into a scene and that would be fixed forever, they can now offer different models for different viewers in the same show at the same time. So, a family might see a sedan, and a single person, a coupe," says Taylor.

At the company's introductory event in Los Angeles recently, Taylor told the audience, "We are on a new platform that makes images intelligent. Ryff is the world's first image technology company using AI and visual computing to change the way we experience entertainment." Thus, broadcast content can accommodate product placement for multiple brands. That content can be edited for multiple markets. In addition, product placement can be updated to reflect new products, branding, and so forth. Ryff also enables clickable screens for instant purchases.

At IBC in Amsterdam, the company announced its strategic partnership with Amsterdam's content creation company Endemol Shine Group. Endemol Shine has produced blockbusters like Black Mirror, Big Brother, Deal or No Deal, Humans, Hunted, Master Chef, Peaky Blinders, The Island, The Brain, Tin Star, and Your Face Sounds Familiar. Ryff has also announced a partnership with India's Tech Mahindra as the company's cloud provider, and has relationships with Dell, Intel, and Cisco.

For an idea of scale, Ryff says product placement is currently a $23 billion industry within the $2 trillion entertainment content industry. According to Ryff, it can disrupt existing methods of screening, editing, and updating content while offering new monetization opportunities for existing and new inventories of ad content.

As a platform, Ryff will also include a marketplace to match Placer inventory markers with content from an approved product image database. Ryff provides a yield-optimization tool that enables the company to match inventory to brands and lets participants bid on insertion where possible. Ryff expects to offer brands and studios multiple resale opportunities for their products and content.

In a prepared quote, Turner says, "There's so much untapped potential in how creative industries and advertisers integrate product into highly targeted and programmable intelligent images." He adds, "Our founding team is confident that we are at the first stage of a monumental shift in how we program content. The initial level of interest has shown us that we are not alone in our aspirations."

Kathleen Maher( is a contributing editor to CGW, a senior analyst at Jon Peddie Research, a Tiburon, CA-based consultancy specializing in graphics and multimedia, and editor in chief of JPR's "TechWatch."


LM TV to Target Television
and Streaming Services

Industrial Light & Magic is extending is visual effects and animation services to the streaming and episodic television markets via a new division called ILM TV. Based out of ILM's new 47,000-square-foot London studio, the business will be supported by the company's global locations in San Francisco, Vancouver, and Singapore.

The ILM TV team will be led by visual effects supervisors Hayden Jones and Jonathan Privett, alongside executive producers Louise Hussey and Stefan Drury. Previously, the team set up and oversaw DNeg's television division. They won a BAFTA for "Special, Visual and Graphic Effects" for their work on Black Mirror.

The business's first projects will be Lucasfilm's live-action series Mandalorian, based in the Star Wars universe and developed by Jon Favreau, and the Superman prequel series Krypton, which is now in its second season, based on DC characters from Warner Horizon Scripted Television for Syfy.

"It's not often you get to create a new division at Industrial Light & Magic," explains Rob Bredow, executive creative director and head of ILM. "We are seeing a real convergence in our creative approach used on films and in our immersive entertainment division ILMxLAB, and now we're proud to be able to offer these ILM innovations in a way that's suitable for streaming and television work to creatives around the world."

ILM's legacy in television dates back to the studio's Emmy-winning work for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

Adds VFX supervisor Hayden Jones, "The television and streaming segments have grown exponentially in recent years, and we are seeing substantial demand for high-caliber visual effects that can be delivered on schedule and within budget, all of which lie at the core of our team's expertise and proven track record." 

ILM TV will offer producers and showrunners access to Industrial Light & Magic's VFX talent, infrastructure, and technology, combined with a fresh approach to visual effects designed to suit the condensed production schedules and rapid turnaround times that episodic series and online streaming programs demand.