James Governor's Monkchips

Build 2017: The Microsoft Story Remix

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For as long as humans have huddled around campfires storytelling has defined us. Gazing absentmindedly into the flames, burning wood crackling, we tell stories about our ancestors, our kids growing up, and our fears and hopes. Yearning and memory hold families and friends together, experiences shared. In the modern era we created new tools to capture the past, new ways to tell stories. The daguerreotype, the camera, the movie camera.The Kodak moment defined an era. Sepia tones, the washed out colours of the 1960s and early 70s. That epiphany when Don Draper named the “Carousel”.

Cameras took images ever sharper, crisper, clearer, and then of course came digital. Everything changed, with the Web the flickering images changed even faster. Today Facebook is where we share the photographs and stories, it is the fire we look into as families have become dispersed.

Snap wants to be the camera, to be the place where stories are told, and shared, but Facebook with Instagram is not giving up lightly, and a $2bn loss is never a good look, first results or no.

Google Photos is an amazing app for Android people – it’s creating a timeline of my kids learning to ride bikes, laughing together on Greek islands, my wife and I in a rare moment of peace. Collages, animated GIFs, digital stories I share with my folks. Photos is a great piece of work, it’s making Google sticky. Which services would you give up?

Apple has iMovie and recently introduced “Clips” to make video editing easier, with Snap-like augmented reality options. We take the photos we share with our phones now, which left Microsoft with a potential problem. This morning Microsoft gave a response – it demoed its new Story Remix app, a replacement for Movie Maker, which will ship with the Fall Creator’s Update of Windows 10 later this year.


Story Remix is a video editing app with some really nice features – you can choose which protagonist to focus on as it makes a movie on your behalf, you can set it to edit the movie on the beats of the soundtrack you choose, you can easily add augmented reality overlays. Story Remix uses machine learning to augment creativity and if the demo is anything to go by, the videos it creates will be very slick indeed.

Microsoft introduced a ton of new features today during its keynote for developers, and I will be covering much of that later, but for now I am just left thinking that Story Remix is a surprisingly significant aspect of the Windows Story Remix. It’s slick enough to nullify some of Apple’s advantages, and some of Google’s plays. The PC can still have a place, Windows still has a place. Whether it’s a companion or a center piece the PC can be about modern AI augmented storytelling, and sharing and making memories. Story Remix is a fine piece of work.

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