AI in video production

Thoughts on AI

So I’ve been having some thoughts on AI. You probably have too.

It’s actually been hard to think of anything else when I think about what the next few years might have in store, especially for the creative industry. With the launch of Logic Learning Machines (LLM’s) like ChatGPT, Bing’s chat, Google’s Bard as well as AI image generators like Dall-E, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney, it’s impossible to ignore sense of foreboding, or the shudder you get every time there is a jump in what these systems can do.

As I write this there isn’t currently a system out there that can spit out a video, or an animation (at least not at anything approaching a professional level), but I’m under no illusions that it is coming, and no doubt already in development.

Legal Issues and Controversies Surrounding AI Development

I won’t dwell too long on the various legal issues, and the controversy surrounding how these systems work and were developed. Needless to say that creatives around the world are (to put it mildly) a bit miffed that their work has been scraped from the internet and used to train AI systems, without their knowledge, consent or compensation, and these systems are now posing a very real threat to their livelihoods and employment prospects. “A product fuelled by theft” say some. But the genie is out of the bottle. AI content is here, it’s not going away and it is probably going to get a lot better, will be a lot more prevalent, and all this will happen a lot quicker than anyone is prepared for.

The Tricky Balancing Act: AI as a Useful Tool vs. Human Ingenuity and Creativity

Everyone in the creative industry now faces a very tricky balancing act. On one hand we need to acknowledge these tools exist and recognise that they can be extremely useful. The productivity gains are obvious; they are going to help us make things in less time, and with less effort, and we are probably all going to adopt them into our workflows in one way or another. On the other hand, we need to be able to convince clients of the value in continuing to let talented, experienced creative professionals take the lead on creative projects and not just replace human ingenuity and creativity solely with AI generated content.

Is AI Content Any Good? Scrutinising the Output

Undoubtably there will be a certain sector of the market that will be perfectly happy to enter a prompt into a piece of software and use whatever it spits out rather than paying a human. Are these our clients though? I’m not so sure. Those people are probably the ones currently scouring Fiverr and filtering by price from Low to High.

Because, crucially, is AI content actually any good? I mean once the surprise and wonder of having something magically appear out of thin air has worn off, is the outputted content something that stands up to scrutiny? Would you be happy just to hit ‘publish’? Would it add value? In my opinion (and I get this is subjective, and I am probably biased), if you scrutinise AI content it’s all just a bit…meh. Vanilla. Bland. Robotic.

The Limitations of AI: Unpredictable Content and the Importance of Human Creativity

On a fundamental level AI is just not capable of unpredictable content. AI models are trained on previously created works, so it just takes everything that has happened before, jumbles it around in a black box and spits out an amalgamation of what it thinks will satisfy you. It’s designed to copy. It’s not going to surprise you with a new thought or give you an original idea. It won’t invent anything. It won’t give an opinion. It doesn’t have a personality. It won’t tell a new joke. It’s just the world’s best collage machine. It’s going to give you a thing that is just like that other thing someone else is using.

Human intelligence is easy to mimic, human creativity isn’t. The things that make video and animation magic; the pacing, beats, anticipation, the storytelling, are almost instinctive and there isn’t a substitute for that and it’s very hard to learn. But as a starting point, or a link in the chain, AI content could be incredibly useful.

There has always been a race to the bottom in design. The sort of companies that churn out low quality, generic content will be the hardest hit, as this is the type of content AI can best replicate. Conversely, there is also always going to be a demand for the type of content that can only come from people. Content with fresh perspectives. Personality. New ideas. Perhaps we’ll see a rise in ‘organic’ creative. 100% human made, no robots involved.

AI as a Tool, Not a Rival: Views on the Future of AI in Creative Work.

I’ve gone round and round with this in my head and I just come to the conclusion that AI is just a tool. A potentially revolutionary tool, but a tool nevertheless. And from my experience clients aren’t that interested in what tools are used to make their content. We frequently update our software with new features, add plug-ins to speed up certain workflows, buy hardware that will cut render times or create scripts that automate tedious chunks of production. What matters is the output. The value it creates for them. I’m viewing AI as a future sidekick, a partner. Hopefully not a rival.

I can’t envisage a future where brands are content to leave their communication exclusively in the hands of AI, or where serious creatives are content to let machine learning generate content that they then put their names to. AI won’t replace the core of what I do, but as a helpful additional tool I’m excited to jump in.