Friday Harbor Film Festival Best of Fest

WHALE TALK, VALA NORTH & GENERATIONS OF SOUND

Expired February 12, 2022 7:45 AM
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ABOUT THE FILM

The variety of sounds made by animals is complex. Biologists are still at the beginning to understand their meaning. Computer linguists and Automated Pattern Recognition researchers, on the other side, have developed sophisticated analysis tools during the last years. Can these tools be adapted to animal languages, such as whales, elephants, or gray parrots? Do whales use a real “language”? To find answers, an international team sets out to adapt AI tools to killer whales.


To collect sufficient data for their analysis the team embarks on an expedition along the pristine coastlines of Northern Canada. With specialized software onboard they follow different groups of the Northern Resident killer whales.


The challenge is to isolate whale calls that reappear often in similar contexts. These might provide hints towards a possible meaning.

Finally, the neural networks begin to identify first-call patterns amidst the ocean noise. Yet to understand in detail why a call is made, and who answers what, still requires more training and data.


While following different orca families along the coast of Canada, the film provides the first window into a new and exciting era of animal communication research, while drawing us closer to an old dream of mankind – decoding of their language.


DIRECTOR BIOGRAPHY - Volker Barth


Volker collected experience from setting up large-scale European research projects in neurosciences (connecting wet sciences to neuroinformatics, IT, 3D, and 4D). He has been working with the Institute of Scientific Film of Germany, and later as head of the interactive film department of iAS Interactive Systems GmbH. In 2002 he set up Anthro Media and is developing and realizing cultural and science programs for the international market since.


FILMMAKER LINKS

Filmmaker website


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Friday Harbor Film Festival thanks to Friday Harbor Grand for sponsoring this film.

  • Year
    2021
  • Runtime
    52 minutes
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    Germany, Canada
  • Director
    Volker Barth
  • Screenwriter
    Volker Barth
  • Producer
    Volker Barth, Pat Ferns, Fabrice Esteve