- The global market for generative AI is expected to be worth more than $126 billion by 2031 with Media & Entertainment driving a third of all growth.
- One popular use of AI is to de-age actors or bring them back to life — but so far the applications have skewed heavily to the vanity of white male actors.
- AI is gaining ground as a regular production tool but the use of AI to auto-create a full movie from scratch or to normalize AI characters as leads is unlikely, not least because viewers appreciate the difference between a by-the-numbers piece of fakery and something concocted by human chemistry.
Attention in Hollywood has turned from whether to use generative AI towards how to use it in practice.
While tools like Midjourney and ChatGPT 3 are not quite ready to auto-create CG video or script the next blockbuster, there are numerous ways in which such tools can be of benefit.
However, with power comes great responsibility, says Joshua Glick, a visiting associate professor of film and electronic arts at Bard College.
In an article written for Wired, and a subsequent interview on the Marketplace Tech podcast, Glick highlights some of the issues that filmmakers and producers should address as AI enters the day-to-day.
He starts by saying it’s doubtful that Hollywood studios will launch a major lineup of AI-generated features anytime soon.
“Nor will viewers likely want to completely forego the experience of collectively shared films or series in favor of bespoke entertainment they create with a few sentences of prompt engineering,” he suggests.
“Even as text-to-video software continues to improve at an extraordinary rate, it will never replace the social elements crucial to the product Hollywood makes and the culture that surrounds both gaudy blockbusters and gritty dramas alike.”
A more pressing concern is that studios will use algorithm-driven predictive analytics to greenlight only those projects they believe are sure to make money, “leading to less diversity of form, story, and talent,” he warns.
The film and TV industry has always used the latest tech it can to divine the next big hit and in that sense AI tools that sift the data runes are nothing new.
Glick thinks reliance on AI will challenge risk taking.
“It damages the possibility of getting more films out there made by women and by people of color when studios are just trying to make a film with the least amount of risk.”
Similarly, the use of AI to enable actors to play their younger selves is now a routine part of the storytelling toolbox. De-ageing techniques have been used in films as disparate as gangster drama The Irishman (2019), sci-fi thriller Gemini Man (2019), and this summer’s tentpole Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023). So-called “synthetic resurrection,” where a deceased actor or historical figure is brought back to life to play a role in the present is also highly likely to increase, he thinks.
“We’ll see deceased figures come back around for the purpose of an eye-catching cameo, a supporting part, or to smooth over the narrative complexities of a multi-year series or franchise.”
De-aging is really “an expansion of stardom or of the star body,” he says. “It’s taking the star character and bringing them back to an early moment in their life, maybe through time travel or a flashback or even into the future. It opens up possibilities for what that character can do and where they can go.”
However, it would be surprising if AI-as-lead became the norm. Glick thinks that even if it becomes easier to negotiate “likeness rights,” these simulations have still not cracked the problem of realistic fake humans — they have not crossed the uncanny valley.
“Viewers’ discomfort would not necessarily stem from the image itself, but from the cognitive dissonance of trying to square the knowledge of the character’s digital construction with how real they seem on screen.”
He also makes the point that de-ageing to date has been applied largely to the make up of white male actors.
“It’s often aging white male bodies that are brought back into past moments of their self rather than women and people of color.”
As AI technologies move into mainstream production, conversations need to be had critiquing its use, including “the need to have it expand across a much more full and inclusive spectrum of character, actor and actress.”
He cites a reported use of AI in post-production on the Netflix acquired movie Fall, reported by the Los Angeles Times to remove curse words from scenes and synthetically alter the actors’ faces to match new dialogue recorded after the original shoot.
This could, of course, save a lot of money on reshoots, notes Glick. “It could also help movies perform better overseas by avoiding cheesy overdubs,” but he observes that actor’s unions are concerned. SAG-AFTRA told the LA Times this is likely going to be a big topic for contract negotiations going forward.
According to Allied Market Research, the global generative AI industry will soar to $126.5 billion worldwide by 2031, rocketing from $8.15 billion in 2021 on the back of a 32% growth rate.
What’s more, the AMR report pegs media and entertainment as grabbing the highest share of one-third of the overall generative AI market between now and 2031. It attributes this to the surge in the use of AI to create virtual and augmented reality experiences.
Furthermore, while the market is set to be largest in North America over the next decade, growth is fastest in Asia-Pacific at a CAGR of 34.4% due to the presence of a vibrant start-up ecosystem in the region with many companies formed to develop and commercialize AI technology.
READ MORE: Generative AI Market to Reach $126.5 Billion, Globally, by 2031 at 32% CAGR: Allied Market Research (Allied Market Research)
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