AI has made remarkable strides in recent years, impacting various industries and changing how we live and work. With its uncanny ability to reshape itself around cutting-edge technology, the film industry has already begun its fusion with AI tools.
You might not believe how AI video tools are changing the film industry in 2023 and beyond. Perhaps you could ask ChatGPT — but we recommend you keep reading to find an objective nexus point between AI tools and filmmakers.
AI tools have conjured the voices of Andy Warhol and Anthony Bourdain for their respective documentaries. It’s also making waves in de-aging software that shaves decades off of actors — just look at Harrison Ford in the upcoming Indiana Jones movie. And now, everything from mind-blowing VFX to the way we tell stories is becoming available to the filmmaking masses thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools.
TYPES OF AI TOOLS FOR VIDEO AND FILMMAKING
AI filmmaking tools empower small-market and independent filmmakers to punch far above their weight class. The new technology brings big-budget capabilities to filmmakers who would normally never dream of the possibility in their storytelling. Not because they didn’t want to but because it wasn’t possible. This opens up higher-concept storytelling to Indie filmmakers.
Now, let’s explore the different types of AI tools for video and filmmaking and afterward discuss the implications of AI technology for the future of the film industry.
1. VIDEO EDITING AND POST-PRODUCTION
AI-powered video editing tools are reshaping the post-production landscape. These tools can analyze video footage, detect patterns, and automatically edit and enhance clips, making the editing process faster and more efficient. AI algorithms can identify the best shots, eliminate unwanted elements, and even generate automatic video summaries. Additionally, AI tools can assist with color grading, noise reduction, and visual effects, providing filmmakers with greater control over the final product.
Topaz Labs developed a video upscaling AI tool that sharpens fuzzy footage, promising “tack-sharp 4K at buttery-smooth 60 fps.” Additional Topaz Video AI (TVAI) enhancement capabilities include deinterlacing and motion interpolation.
What’s not to like about AI-powered upscaling tools that can rescue fuzzy footage from the trash heap? Especially when you can save an amazing performance if the focus was soft.
Audio mixing has never been easier than with tools like Izotope’s Neutron software which has both Track Assistant and Mix Assistant. The Track Assistant, in particular, automatically generates custom presets that make your track sound as good as possible. It may not be perfect, but audio mixers use it as a starting point and then perfect it from there.
2. SCRIPTWRITING AND STORYTELLING
AI has also found its place in the early blueprint stages of the filmmaking process. AI-based software can analyze vast amounts of data, including scripts, books, and movies, to generate plotlines, characters, and dialogue.
While AI-generated scripts might not match the depth of human creativity, they can serve as valuable starting points, helping filmmakers explore new ideas and brainstorm fresh concepts.
Filmmaker Jon Finger created his short film D.A.N. using A.I.-generated images and video. One day, Finger was playing with GPT-4 and asked it to make him a viral tweet. It responded with “Woke up in a lab and I’m an AI. What does this mean?” The premise immediately struck him.
At the moment, Finger is not excited about language models writing his scripts. He rather enjoys playing with the ideas they can generate. So, he still ultimately wrote the script but used the A.I., Gen2 from Runway, and generated the individual shots to build up the scenes that he had written.
Every shot is generated from A.I., from text to video. Although, Finger notes the process isn’t streamlined. He compares it to a blind millionaire photographer asking his assistant for help — but the caveat is that the assistant doesn’t speak English very well. So, basically, you type the shot you want and often get back images that don’t reflect your imagination. Then, you change the language a bit and re-generate the image.
3. VFX AND ANIMATION
Creating stunning visual effects (VFX) and realistic animations often require significant time and resources. AI tools can streamline this process by automating tasks such as rotoscoping, motion tracking, and compositing.
By harnessing machine learning algorithms, filmmakers can reduce the production time and costs associated with VFX, making it more accessible for independent filmmakers and smaller production companies.
Runway developed an especially useful AI tool that allows filmmakers to mask and rotoscope at record speeds without the tedium of scrubbing frame-by-frame. It still may not be perfect in terms of giving filmmakers control options but all footage is exportable as chroma colors, alpha channels, and video.
4. AUDIENCE ANALYSIS AND MARKETING
AI technology can analyze vast amounts of data from social media, online platforms, and viewer demographics to provide insights into audience preferences. This information allows filmmakers to tailor their content to specific target audiences, improve marketing strategies, and increase engagement.
AI-powered recommendation systems also play a crucial role in suggesting films and shows to viewers, helping them discover content that aligns with their interests.
IMPLICATIONS OF AI TECHNOLOGY FOR THE FUTURE OF FILMMAKING AND HOLLYWOOD 2.0
All of the advancements in AI tools will transform the film industry into what Runway CEO Cris Valenzuela dubs Hollywood. 2.0. Runway is the company behind the cutting-edge AI tools that helped create the many worlds of the Oscar-winning film, Everything Everywhere All At Once.
The impact of AI technology is already being felt all the way down to The Late Show where it streamlines creative workflows to meet the high demand for content. Now, let’s take a look at the implications of AI tools in the future of filmmaking.
INCREASED EFFICIENCY AND COST REDUCTION
AI tools can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing filmmakers to focus on creativity and storytelling. By accelerating the editing, VFX, and animation processes, AI technology saves time and reduces production costs. This makes filmmaking more accessible to emerging talents and independent filmmakers, fostering a more diverse and inclusive film industry.
There’s now an AI tool that makes color grading a breeze. Colourlab.Ai provides incredible color intelligence and with its ML capabilities, it learns the key frames from the human colorist, saving plenty of time while color grading. With this powerful tool, filmmakers can balance all the cameras with just one click, create AI references with pre-loaded smart LUTs, auto-group shots together, and color-match shots from different cameras.
Descript is another AI tool that helps streamline the post-production process. It’s essentially like a new way to edit. A text-based video editing tool, Descript digests footage and generates text transcripts. Then if you make an edit in the text, it’s automatically made in the video footage as well. This is great for breaking footage into chunks and removing unwanted sound checks along with “ums” during interviews.
ENHANCED CREATIVITY AND COLLABORATION
AI tools provide filmmakers with new creative possibilities and collaborative opportunities. By automating certain processes, AI frees up time for filmmakers to explore innovative ideas and experiment with storytelling techniques. Additionally, AI-powered collaboration platforms facilitate remote teamwork, allowing filmmakers to collaborate across geographical boundaries and bring together diverse talents.
The Insta360 is one such innovative device that streamlines pre-production while keeping all department heads on the same page. Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC pioneered the use of the Insta360 for tech and location scouts during the pandemic. It requires fewer people to attend the scouts and then in the Insta360 Studio app, filmmakers can navigate virtually, get measurements, and communicate with one another.
ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS AND CHALLENGES
Ultimately, AI technology serves as a great tool for filmmakers, whether it’s as a solid starting point or to quickly take care of tedious tasks. As AI technology continues to advance, ethical considerations become paramount.
Filmmakers must navigate questions related to data privacy, biases, and the potential displacement of jobs in the industry. Striking a balance between human creativity and AI assistance is crucial to ensure that AI technology remains a tool rather than a replacement for artistic expression and human talent.
Finger affirms that AI is not free of human intervention — at least at the moment:
“Right now is a scary moment,” says Finger, “because the stuff it can do are jobs a creative person is doing and if replaced, they have nowhere else to go…. That’s assuming nothing changes. But as things move forward, to me, it looks like this is going to turn into a situation — sort of like what YouTube did with distribution — anyone can go out and be seen by the world. But the benefit to production is that some animator can have a vision they’re excited about and they don’t have to listen to a bunch of other people talk about what they can and cannot do. They can go make the film they want to make, or even make a whole series or game or whatever on the level of what would be a multi-million dollar level otherwise.”
According to technologist and industry pundit Philip Hodgetts, AI and machine learning tools will “amplify your creativity.” And not only that but make it available to people who never had the opportunity to express themselves through the art form.
Hodgetts puts it succinctly, “Let’s be very clear: Tools are not competition.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
As filmmakers, we must understand the latest technology and open ourselves up to learn how it can improve our storytelling. This is certainly the case with AI tools. Of course, there are pros and cons to new technologies, and that’s also the case for AI tools. It’s far from the end-all, be-all. So, don’t expect ChatGPT to spit out a perfect script or Colourlab.Ai to grade your film to the extent of David Cole. But for a starting point or skipping past hours of tedium, AI tools are impressively useful.
The best thing you can do as a filmmaker and stay ahead of your competition is to cross-train and understand the departments around you. That way, you will be irreplaceable when new technology comes along to replace menial tasks. And there’s no better way to do that than become a Filmmakers Academy member!