Generating multimedia presentations: from plain text to screenplay

Piwek, Paul; Power, Richard; Scott, Donia and Van Deemter, Kees (2005). Generating multimedia presentations: from plain text to screenplay. In: Stock, Oliviero and Zancanaro, Massimo eds. Multimodal intelligent information presentation. Text, speech and language technology, 27. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, pp. 203–226.




In many Natural Language Generation (NLG) applications, the output is limited to plain text – i.e., a string of words with punctuation and paragraph breaks, but no indications for layout, or pictures, or dialogue. In several projects, we have begun to explore NLG applications in which these extra media are brought into play. This paper gives an informal account of what we have learned. For coherence, we focus on the domain of patient information leaflets, and follow an example in which the same content is expressed first in plain text, then in formatted text, then in text with pictures, and finally in a dialogue script that can be performed by two animated agents. We show how the same meaning can be mapped to realisation patterns in different media, and how the expanded options for expressing meaning are related to the perceived style and tone of the presentation. Throughout, we stress that the extra media are not simple added to plain text, but integrated with it: thus the use of formatting, or pictures, or dialogue, may require radical rewording of the text itself.

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