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The Future

Will generative AI change everything for filmmaking?

Freethink asks three different kinds of experts to answer this question.
A robotic hand holds a clapperboard, preparing to slate a scene. The background is dark with faint purple streaks.
Credit: Adobe Stock / Freethink
Key Takeaways
  • Generative AI is set to change how many professions will operate in the coming years.
  • We asked an experimental filmmaker, an MIT economist, and an AI startup executive for their predictions on how AI will change the filmmaking industry.
  • The experts agree that AI has the potential to expand and accelerate the creativity process, so long as corporate greed doesn’t try to remove humans from the equation.

From coding and art design to customer service and education, seemingly countless professions are adopting AI systems. With the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and its text-to-video system, Sora, and rumors of partnerships with big studios, will Hollywood be the next frontier for AI innovation?

We asked an experimental filmmaker, an MIT economist, and an AI startup executive how generative AIs could impact the world of filmmaking. We’re presenting their unique perspectives — as a user, analyst, and creator of these tools, respectively — as a way to uncover the depth and impact of this potentially transformative technology. Here’s what they had to say. 

Paul Trillo: Filmmaker

Paul Trillo is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and director. His body of work spans various genres and formats and has been featured in Rolling Stone, Vice, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker. His recent work explores the future of AI filmmaking and the ethical and artistic implications of using these tools.

Trillo: Film is a collaborative medium and the best ideas come from different minds being in the room together. It’s fundamental to the DNA of filmmaking, and I wouldn’t underestimate that. 

The reality is filmmaking is also an incredibly difficult, resource-heavy medium that prevents a lot of people and ideas from breaking through. More than 99% of screenplays don’t make it into theaters. If this can give life to voices and visions that would have never seen the light of day, I believe that’s a good thing. It has the opportunity for more work to be made and not less. 

It will certainly change how we approach our process in pre-production and post-production, and there will be changes to the kinds of tasks and jobs people will have. 

People with traditional skills — from concept art to storyboards to visual effects — have the most to gain from adopting these new tools. They will be able to work faster and put that extra time into exploring new ideas in the creative process.

If this can give life to voices and visions that would have never seen the light of day, I believe that’s a good thing.

Paul Trillo

Working professionals in the industry have honed their taste through years of experience and have the best ability to discern what’s good and what’s not. There are many people with untrained eyes and a lack of original vision that will stumble through using these tools and ultimately not break through. 

The evolving and changing of technology and tools has always been something visual effects artists have had to adapt to — now it’s just about being more nimble than ever before. Visual effects artists should learn the new animation tools, learn how to train their own models, and hone in on the tedious, laborious aspects of their job and see where they can be more efficient. 

This will give independent films a fighting chance to use visual effects in a way that competes with the bigger budget films. For the studios who are overseeing these big budget films, it’s on them to continue to cut the checks and not get greedy.

Simon Johnson: Economist

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is head of the Global Economics and Management group. He is the co-author with Daron Acemoglu of the book “Power and Progress: Our 1,000 Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity.”

Johnson: AI is a technology that can either automate tasks (replacing people with algorithms) or augment the capabilities of all kinds of workers (by giving people access to information or expert insights that were not previously available). Or perhaps, as in the case of movie scriptwriting, it will do some of both.

The most likely outcome is that, eventually, fewer people will be involved in drafting and developing scripts. The people who are writing and editing in 10 years or so will be using AI to extend their creativity, look at other ideas, and respond to pressures from directors (or others).

As long as the writers remain in charge and empowered, we should expect AI will broaden the range of ideas that make it into scripts.

Simon Johnson

One possibility is that a movie executive generates a script using AI and then hires someone directly out of film school to make it look like there is a human author. This AI-based script would likely be structured around the classic corporate question: what will make us the most money given the current cultural conversation (or where that could go next)?

The recently agreed Writers Guild agreement with the studios will keep more writers in the loop, at least for the contract duration. Hopefully, writers will develop productive ways to use AI in their script development. As long as the writers remain in charge and empowered, we should expect AI will broaden the range of ideas that make it into scripts. 

Human creativity is a wonderful thing. But corporate logic is very powerful, particularly when it can be backed by a lot of capital. The screenwriters did well to win what they did last year. But AI-powered corporate blandness will be hard to stop.

Alon Yaar: AI startup exec

Alon Yaar is the VP of Product at Lightricks, an AI-first company that creates photo and video editing tools, including FaceTune and LTX Studio, an AI-powered, end-to-end storytelling platform.

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Yaar: The impact of generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) on the film industry is going to be transformative and expansive. But rather than be feared, it should be seen more as a new creative tool for filmmakers — akin to the introduction of sound or computer-generated imagery (CGI). The influence of AI will extend far beyond a single application and touch every aspect of the industry, from pre- to post-production, and the entire creative process as a whole.

In pre-production, AI revolutionizes how stories are conceived, written, and planned. The ability to take simple ideas and film concepts and leverage AI to suggest plot developments, character arcs, and even dialogues, makes the writing process more efficient. More recently, the technology has advanced to the point where photos and video clips can be quickly created, edited, moved, and customized — in real-time. 

AI-driven analytics can also help producers predict market trends, helping filmmakers and studios decide which projects to pursue based on potential audience reception.

AI in film not only accelerates the creative process, but also democratizes it.

Alon Yaar

During production, AI again becomes a co-collaborator, creating visual effects (VFX), generating realistic CGI, and even simulating complex scenes that would be too costly (or dangerous) to shoot in real life. AI algorithms will also help increase editing speed, analyze shots to select the best ones, and even adjust lighting and color grading in post-production, streamlining workflows and making experienced editors even more productive.

This line of thought is one of the many reasons we were so excited to introduce LTX Studio, our AI-powered storytelling platform, which we look at as the first step in revolutionizing the film industry, from ideation to production. By simplifying the filmmaking process, LTX Studio enables creators to easily generate scripts, storyboards, and short clips to visualize storylines, along with built-in tools that offer extensive customization options for scenes, including style, weather, and character modifications. 

The integration of AI in film not only accelerates the creative process, but also democratizes it. Tools like LTX Studio enable creators with varying experience and resources to bring their visions to life, leveling the playing field between indie filmmakers and major studios. This democratization fosters a more diverse and creative industry, where unique stories and voices have a better chance of being heard.

As technology continues to evolve, so too will how stories are told and experienced. The key to harnessing the full potential of AI lies in collaboration between technologists and creatives, ensuring that the heart of filmmaking remains human storytelling, augmented but not overshadowed by artificial intelligence.

This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.


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