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New search site says it can find that movie where Sean Connery wears red pants

Mark Hachman | March 3, 2016
The answer is 'Zardoz,' of course.

We’ve all had this conversation: “What’s that movie with that guy? You know, with the thing? And there’s the girl?”

A new movie search site, called whatismymovie.com, can’t go quite that far. But if you can describe the movie—“find movies with Harrison Ford on airplanes,” for example—it does indeed turn up Air Force One. 

The site is the showcase for a new platform technology that a Finnish developer, Valossa, is pitching to service and content providers: by integrating their content with the new Val.ai platform, Valossa believes that film studios can surface more of that content so that consumers can rent or stream it. 

The value proposition for consumers is that it makes movies easier to find. Valossa, claims to page through a given movie on a scene-by-scene basis, identifying more than one thousand concepts (places, objects, and themes) from any video stream. The technology allows you to search using natural-language queries, and there’s even a beta version of the technology that allows voice searches using the Alexa digital assistant in Amazon's Echo connected speaker. There are also some rudimentary links to where you can purchase the movie in question online, a very basic solution for cord-cutters.

It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad, either

As you’re probably aware, you must overcome two obstacles when using a search engine: the engine has to understand what you’re looking for, and it has to be able to find it. In a way, Valossa’s tech helps solve the first issue. Take a look at some of the queries you should be able to make, according to the company:

  • find all Harry Potter movies
  • find me James Bond movies with Sean Connery
  • show me parody films
  • scifi movie about space battles and laser guns
  • eastwood protecting the president
  • romantic scifi movie
  • comedy in hawaii
  • ridley scott columbus expedition

Let’s just take an example I tried—“find movies with Harrison Ford on airplanes” and contrast it with a similar search the company itself supplied: “Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in a combat airplane.”

First, my search results. I’m pleased to see that my initial query does turn up Air Force One, along with some other results that came as a complete surprise: Oh yeah, Harrison Ford was in Apocalypse Now (but does he ride in a plane?). And I know that Ford does a turn as a were-hyena (don’t ask) in Anchorman 2, but I’m not sure he rides in a plane in that one, either.  

The search Valossa supplied is also problematic. As you can see from the screenshot below, taken from a demo movie that accompanied the launch of the site, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery clearly occupy the front and rear seats of the plane being attacked by a German soldier. And, as you might expect, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade shows up as the first result.

 

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