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## Detecting Mixtures of Genres in Movie Dialogues

Author Note : My blog is getting the first guest post ! This post is written by dear friend and fellow geek Kripa who just graduated from Columbia University. He specializes in Machine Learning, NLP and Data Mining. Over the last few months,  he has been doing some amazing exploratory work in Data Mining. This blog post describes one such work. Here he describes how he applied LDA on movie scripts to determine the mixture of genres. Aside from being a cool application of LDA, finding such genre mixture has multiple applications. For eg, this can provide a mechanism to improve movie recommendations. You can even use it to deconstruct the work of your favorite artist !

Every movie predominantly falls into a particular genre that can be one of war, crime, adventure, thriller, comedy, romance, etc. Sometimes there is more than one genre a movie can belong to. For example a movie like Minority Report though predominantly belongs to sci-fi has very strong elements of crime in the storyline. Given a movie, I wanted to look at some approximate percentages of genres contained in it.

If I throw a movie like Pearl Harbor at my system, I expect it to return an output like:

war: 35%
crime: 13%
comedy: 13%
horror: 9%
romance: 19%
sci-fi: 11%

I decided to consider only these six genres as others like Adventure, Action, Thriller, etc are mostly overlaps. For example, action is a broad category – war and crime could also be considered action; and a thriller could be a medley of action and crime. For my experiment I considered only those genres which I felt were distinct from each other.

### Data

The first question is what kind of data to go after? Movie plots are available from the IMDB dataset. They do express the major genre well but they don’t contain a lot of information to get the minor genres out. Wikipedia usually contains a detailed plot, but I found something better: Internet Movie Script Database (imsdb here forth). This is an online repository of movie scripts which contain dialogues and also contextual scene information.

For example consider this scene from The Patriot:

Marion leaves the workshop with Susan at his side. Nathan and Samuel walk past, exhausted from their day in the field.
NATHAN: Father, I saw a post rider at the house.
MARION: Thank you. Did you finish the upper field?
SAMUEL: We got it all cut and we bundled half of it.
MARION: Those swimming breaks cut into the day, don’t they?

This contains both the dialogues and the description of the scene. It struck me as the right kind of data I should be looking at. Also this had a good amount of scripts (~1000 movies) for running a quick experiment. I did a quick and dirty wget of all the webpages followed by a bunch of shell scripts to weed out html tags and expressions such as "CAMERA PANS OUT" and "SCENE SHIFTS TO" that add no information to the script. I also removed the stop words and proper nouns. After pre-processing I had just the text of dialogues and the scene description.

Now that I have data, how did I go about finding the composition of genres in a movie?

### Supervised vs Unsupervised

Let us define the problem elaborately. I have the pre-processed imsdb content which is the data and its genre is its label. A simple classification task will involve extracting features from the labeled data and training it using a classifier to build a model. This model can then be used to predict the genre of a movie that is out of the training data. This is a supervised approach where we already have the labeled data – genre of a movie. For my task of detecting a mixture of genres, all I would need to do is to tweak the classifier output so that it gives the individual probabilities of each genre a movie can possibly belong to. But is this the right approach? Will the output probabilities be close to the actual representation of genres in a movie?

There are couple of issues with this supervised approach.

• For training using a classifier, I need to assign a label to a script. For this problem I should be assigning more than one label to an instance. This is not possible. If during traning, I were to assign a single label (genre) to a whole movie, I’m making a strong (and wrong!) assumption that each movie script represents one genre.
• Consider an example like Minority Report . Here imdb does not list ‘Crime’ as a category at all! We know very well that minority report is a ‘Sci-Fi Crime’ movie. The validity of labels itself poses an issue here.

My expectation from an unsupervised approach is simple. I have a huge collection of unlabeled scripts. I’m assuming that each script contains a mixture of genres.

I now need to extract features (words) that are relevant to each genre from this corpus. In better words, given a corpus of scripts, the unsupervised system needs to discover from the corpus a bunch of topics and list the most relevant features (words) that belong to each topic. I would then be able to use the features to infer the topic mixture of each individual script. This is known as Topic Modelling . Intuitively I’m trying to generate a bag of words model out of a corpus of scripts.

### Latent Dirichlet Allocation

LDA is a topic model and one which is most widely used today. I will not spend much effort in giving a rigorous treatment on LDA since there are excellent resources available online. I’m listing those that I found extremely useful for understanding LDA.

1. Prof. David Blei gave a talk on LDA and its applications at NYU during the NYC Machine Learning Week sometime in February 2011. There is a nice video recording of it: Part 1 and Part 2
2. You can find Prof.Blei’s implementation of LDA in C on his webpage.
3. Edwin Chen’s blog article is one of the best sources for grasping the intuition behind LDA even if you are mathematically less inclined.

A word of warning here! I will write a brief note about my understanding of LDA. Honestly, there are better ways of explaining LDA. At this point all you need know is that LDA is a statistical black box – throw a bunch of documents at it; specify ‘k’ – the number of topics you think are represented by the documents and LDA will output ‘k’ topic vectors. Each topic vector contains words arranged in decreasing probabilities of being associated with that particular topic. You need to know ONLY THIS! So feel free to skip to the next section.

In the case of Maximum Likelihood given n data points, we assume the underlying distribution that generated this data is a Gaussian and fit the data to the best Gaussian possible. LDA also makes a similar assumption that there is a hidden structure to the data. And that hidden structure is a multinomial whose parameter $\theta$ comes from a Dirichlet Prior.

Let us say that I want to generate a random document; I don’t care if its meaningful or not. I first fix the number of words I would want to generate in that document. I can on the other hand draw a random number from say a Poisson. Once I have the number of words (N) to be generated, I go ahead to generate those many words from the corpus.

Each word is generated thus: draw a $\theta$ from a Dirichlet. (Dirichlet is a distribution over the simplex.) Consider $\alpha$ as the parameter that decides the shape of the Dirichlet similar to how mean and variance decide the shape of the Gaussian bell curve. In a 3-D space, for some choice of $\alpha$, consider the probability to be more near (1,0,0), (0,1,0) and (0,0,1). For some other choice of $\alpha$ all points in the 3-D simplex might get the same probability! This represents what kind of topic mixtures I can generally expect! (If my initial guess is that each document has only one topic, mostly I will choose an $\alpha$ such that I get more probability on the (1,0,0) points. This is just a prior which could be wrong! And in this way it is not strictly analogous to Maximum Likelihood).

So I have an $\alpha$ now and I draw a sample from the Dirichlet. What I actually get is a vector that sums up to 1. I call this $\theta$.

Remember that I’m trying to generate a random document and I haven’t generated a single word yet! The $\theta$ I have is my guess on the topic vector! I have obtained this $\theta$ by sampling from a k-dimensional vector (here k=3 in the above example.)

Now that $\theta$ represents a topic vector which can also be re-imagined as a probability distribution and because any draw is guaranteed to be from the simplex, I can use this drawn vector ($\theta$) as the weights of a loaded ‘k’ faced die. And I throw this die! Lets say it shows up 5 (a number between 1 and k). I will now say that the word I’m going to generate belongs to Topic-5.

I have not yet generated a word! To generate a word that belongs to a topic, I need a |V| faced die. |V| is the size of the vocabulary of the corpus. How do I get such a huge die?!

I will get that in a similar way as for the topic vector. I will sample again from a Dirichlet – but a different Dirichlet – one that is over a v-dimensional simplex. Any draw from this Dirichlet will give a v-faced die. Call this the Dirichlet $\beta$. For each topic ($\theta$) you need a different v-faced die ($\beta$). Thus I end up drawing ‘k’ such ‘v’-faced dice.

So for topic-5, I throw the 5th v-faced die. Let us say it shows 42; I then go to the vocabulary and pick the 42nd word!  I will do this whole process ‘N’ times (N was the number of words to be generated for the random document.)

The crux of this discussion is this: for every document , the dice (i.e samples from the dirichlet($\alpha$) and dirichelt($\beta$) ) are generated only once. It is just that to generate each word, the dice are rolled multiple times. Once to get a topic and once to get a word given this topic!

• ### Running LDA on Movie Scripts

I converted the imsdb data to a format accepted by Prof. Blei’s code. For more information you should look at his README. I initially ran the code with k = 10 (guessing that the movie scripts could represent a mixture of 10 genres). I will jump from here to give a sneak peek at the end results. The end results have been very encouraging. A sample of words clustered under different topics is here:

At this point eyeballing the clusters it is apparent that the starting from the red cloud, clockwise, the clusters represent romance, sci-fi, war, horror, comedy and crime respectively.

Just running LDA on the data with k=10 did not turn out such relevant results. So what was that extra mile which had to be crossed?

LDA does not always guarantee relevant features. Nor is every topic discovered meaningful. After the first run, by eyeballing through the 10 topics, I was able to distinguish 3 topics very easily – war, romance and sci-fi. Playing around with different ‘k’ values did not yield more discernible topics. There are reasons to this:

• ‘war’ and ‘sci-fi’ are distinctly different from other genres – they are pretty exclusive.
• words belonging to ‘romance’ were getting repeated in other topics. This clearly indicated a skew in the data.
• so if I remove the scripts of genres that have been already detected from the dataset, maybe LDA will detect more latent topics due to a change in the underlying data distribution caused by removal of data.

I removed the scripts corresponding to war and sci-fi from the dataset. This was achieved by comparing each script in the dataset against the top features from these topics. Each script was scored based on the occurance of features. I removed the scripts that scored greater than a threshold. The new dataset D* contained scripts other than war and science fiction movies. Then I ran LDA on this new dataset D*. Now I found that the topics pertaining to crime and comedy were getting discovered but their features were mangled with romance. This feature set was improved by removing words which were common to most categories and were not exclusive to one particular category.

This paper deals with using human judgments to examine topics. This is one way of picking the odd feature out of a topic vector.  The final feature set looked something like this.

### Results

I wrote a simple python script that does soft-clustering based on occurance and count of features. A sample of the results is here:

The results were quite convincing to look at. I wanted to obtain some hard metrics. IMSDB already categorises movies based on its genre. So I consider the category as the actual label. A movie is considered to be rightly classified if the label matches one of the top two genres detected by my system. The following are some encouraging results!

These proportions cannot be considered accurate, but they do give an idea of what to expect from a movie! The complete list of results is here .

### 4 Responses

1. very good application of ML. I would love to see analysis of Nira Radia tapes for example http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?268066.

2. “For training using a classifier, I need to assign a label to a script. For this problem I should be assigning more than one label to an instance. This is not possible.”

Also how do you name the class labels?

• STK,

It is certainly possible to use multi label classification. But “pure” multi label classification is pretty hard and the common approach is OVA approach. In this scenario, we really do not have much information about the relative importance of the genres. For eg, its hard to say 60% action and 40% thriller etc. The unsupervised approach does this somewhat.

However, when using unsupervised, we do lose the ability “name” the labels, because they are mixtures. Typically, this is done with human supervision and effort as Kripa did in this case. I love the paper ‘Reading Tea Leaves: How Humans Interpret Topic Models’ which provides some additional details.

3. Wow, very cool!
Movies themes are a great thing to test LDA on: many LDA demos use scientific papers (mine including unfortunately) with lots of technical jargon which makes things easy for LDA since it allows it to center in on the distinct subjects.

I find LDA does less well on “general prose” as the themes are harder to detect there (broader? info in sentence structure?). Your Movie results are very encouraging.