I recently happened across Borys Musielak, the founder and CEO of Filmaster - a cloud based recommendation and analytics platform for TV and cinema - on Twitter and quickly became interested in the service and what it had to offer.
Bory's agreed to answer some questions about Filmaster, and did so with considerable detail and insight....
How long have you been working on Filmaster and what
inspired you to get started?
We started in 2009 as a consumer facing startup aiming at providing the
most accurate movie recommendations for cinema and TV under the brand Filmaster.com. Being
cinema lovers ourselves, the site we created aimed at hardcore movie buffs from
the start. We attracted over 50k film lovers
onboard from all over the globe, but despite having a very active community
(one user rated on average 100 movies!), we never managed to grow
Instagram-big. In 2011 after getting seed-funded by HackFwd we decided to focus
on B2B, bringing the recommendation algorithms we have been developing for 2
years to the world of big media corps: television, video on demand, cinema.
This is how Filmaster.TV was born.
Could you provide any specific use cases or even better case studies to
describe exactly how the service is used and who it may benefit?
Filmaster works best with cinema chains, VOD services and
digital cable providers. Each of these cases is a bit different but all share
one common feature: consumers are overwhelmed with choice and demand better
A cable case is especially interesting. 80% of television viewers turn
on their TVs without specific intent for what they want to watch. The term
“channel surfing” is a result of the fact that viewers are most often unaware
of the content available to them. Simply put, viewers enjoy watching
television, not surfing television.
Filmaster provides modern cross-platform user experience
solutions to best navigate viewers around their personalized content:
- Personalized EPG—Enriched EPG with personalized recommendations
without a need of interface redesign.
- Filmaster Channel—recommendations
provided realtime to provider’s users in a form of a custom TV channel.
Some of our paying customers include Samsung (Poland) and Vue
How Filmaster works...
You mention you've been 'crowdsourcing and
curating film data for over
three years' - what was the process for this?
Curation is a systematic process which involves:
and analyising data about people’s tastes around movies and shows from multiple
sources, including our consumer apps,
- Crowdsourcing film traits (genre, plot keywords, moods and other data describing each item) by the Filmaster community; this does not only include adding new traits but also one-by-one comparison of film traits in order to define complex relationships between movies and shows (e.g. Oldboy is similar to Pulp Fiction but more violent and less cartoonish)
verification of the crowd-sourced data by the Filmaster editors
(employees and volunteers).
All these processes are enhanced by the algorithms which help identifying under-curated content and make sure all the recent films and shows are covered.
Curation is an important process as it provides a human-layer to algorithmic learning by providing additional details and innovative relationships that computer AI cannot determine alone. The curated data is a part of Filmaster’s offer and is as important as the algorithms. It allows for instant recommendations (as a solution to the “cold start” problem) and unique features such as mood-based recommendations and innovative ways to present content, giving Filmaster a competitive edge as a personalisation platform.
Where to you get your data from?
We get our data from three sources:
- Filmaster-branded consumer apps. This includes our mobile apps (iPhone and Android), consumer websites (filmaster.com, filmaster.pl) and the brand new Samsung SmartTV app (released into SmartHUB this January)
- Data collected from our customers via API. When a customer -- whether a TV station, a cable/VOD provider, or a cinema chain -- starts using Filmaster, we retrieve viewers’ watching habits and preferences and fuel the Filmaster cloud with this data.
- Data from third parties. Either extracted from freely available sources or bought.
How do you see recommendation for film, TV and music
evolving over the next few years and what role does Filmaster have to play
Mashable predicts 2013 will be the year of second-screen revolution and big data. We at Filmaster do big data to
provide personalisation and analytics for both first and the second screen.
This positions us pretty well for the upcoming year I believe! Second screen
hasn’t yet taken off because it’s not social, personal and integrated enough
(it’s usually only one of these, Zeebox being a nice exception). The reason why
current second screen solutions are mostly useless is that they focus on social
and don’t offer good personalised content discovery and proper integration with
the first screen.
The near future shall bring a lot of innovation in
personalisation and integration. TV and set-top box manufacturers will start
shipping discovery features both on their first screen and on complementary
second screens (Panasonic, Sony and Intel have already previewed such plans at
CES) which can be used to choose content and watch it on the first screen,
eventually replacing remote controls for some of the population. Cable
providers will have to fight back as they would have realized at this point
that if they lose control over content to the hardware manufacturers, they will
also lose their huge profits and will have to charge more for the bandwidth in
order to survive.
What’s great for companies like Filmaster is that both groups
are well positioned to invest in personalisation technology we provide. And
what’s great for these companies is that personalisation opens new interesting
ways for them to earn money. We’re already working on a personalized advice
service (as opposed to traditional TV advertising) that uses the data we gather
about users’ watching habits in order to serve the right ads to the right
viewers on both screens. This can be as big for TV as Google Adsense was to the
web. Think about integration of e-commerce services either via HbbTV or (more
likely) via second screens, so that both content producers, service and
bandwidth providers benefit from better personalisation across devices.
The long term vision sees Filmaster as a de-facto standard for personalization and analytics services within
entertainment industry. We plan our
company roadmap with this vision in mind. The first stage uses the
personalisation platform as a gateway to building enough data. As we deliver
recommendations to our customers, we gather copious amounts of data and run it
through algorithms. The second stage uses this data to provide real value for
the entertainment industry, including, but not limited to predictive analytics,
personalized advice services. Contrary to common view, the future looks really
bright for TV and thus, to Filmaster.tv :)