There’s no such thing as putting this genie back in the bottle, I’m afraid. The genie being AI created art, sourced from billions of online images and prompted by anyone with an internet connection and a basic understanding of apps and commands. The bottle being the media industry, where suddenly the creation of images is available at the fingertips of anyone and only creativity and time sets any limits.
Yes, there are concerns. Many, loud and relevant concerns. If this is how easy it is to create an image in the style of almost any known artist, living or dead, what’s to become of artists in the future? What is the worth of a graphic designer, if designs are created in under a minute on your phone?
These are all legitimate concerns. It might be that regulation will step in at some point, to curb the onslaught of content production. It might also be that artists and designers will start working with the new technologies themselves, either as tools or as sources for inspiration.
Coming from the field of filmmaking, television, radio and online, I can’t however help feeling excited by the possibilities. Naively, perhaps, but still. And these possibilities feel, to some extent, endless.
In a regular creative process, the people involved work with imagery and texts to hone the image of what is going to be produced. Before any trailers have been produced – before any scenes have been shot – mood boards try to capture the essence of a film or a series. Before anything has been commissioned or funded, pitch decks are prepared to be presented to the people sitting on the proverbial coffers, to entice them to engage with the project and give it their backing.
Material for mood boards, for pitch decks and for general development sessions are for the most part sourced from the internet. Most projects do not have the luxury to have a fulltime graphic designer onboard from the start to help create needed material, or enough material shot to be able to use that as basis for a convincing pitch. Dark and broody castles, sunny beaches, indigenous women, crying children… the Google Image searches become quite narrowed down once you really know what you need for your presentations.
Enter AI. With the right prompt and a few re-rolls, you most likely will end up with something that tickles your fancy. Thinking of casting Emma Stone in your post-apocalyptic coming-to-age-story? Let’s see what it would look like!
Wondering if you should cast Jake Gyllenhaal or Daniel Radcliffe in your next film? Why not both, but combined?
Building the pitch deck for your short film about the lonely man in the house on the hill, after the bombs have fallen? Images like this might be what you need.
Want to present your series about the family on the small island in Studio Ghibli-style? Can do!
Looking for the ultimate image for your poster about the guy who nearly causes the end of the world by fiddling with stuff he doesn’t understand? Gotcha.
Finally, juggling which images to include when BoJo rides to the rescue, becomes Prime Minister and King at the same time and steer the British Isles on a voyage out to sea? Perhaps I can interest you in this:
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. And, pitch decks and presentations aside – just using AI as a tool in the development process is potentially very inspiring. You can feed the bots your logline or your USP:s and see what suggestions it throws up. You can prompt the topic of your content in the style of the artists you admire the most, and see if the results let you look at your story in a new way. Most alluring of it all is the unlimited amount of rerolls, versions and remixes, allowing you to try and test and try and test again. Until you look at the clock and it’s 3.30AM.
At some point we also come up against the age-old issue – just because we can do something, is no clear reason why we should do it. There’s no real reason to try to figure out what a mix between Angela Merkel and Margaret Thatcher would look like, yet here we are:
There’s still handywork to be done of course. AI images are almost never exactly what you need them to be, so Photoshop still comes in handy. Same goes for Illustrator and other tools, to arrive at the desired end result. And other tools give you other possibilities, like Motionleaps handy animation-app, allowing you to animate still pictures. Like I did with this AI generated viking-ship-stranded-on-a-beach-image created a few minutes ago.
All in all, it feels a bit like the wild wild west at the moment. I’m pretty sure we’ll see regulators step in at some point – if not on a governmental level, then at least on a platform level, like for instance Getty Images.
But in the meanwhile, you can find me with my head in an app, trying to craft the perfect prompts to bend an AI to my will.