Post Magazine

January/February 2024

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Page 26 of 39

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE 25 POST JAN/FEB 2024 ast year was a whirlwind when it came to the role AI plays in Hollywood, and if one was measuring impact on headlines alone, the technol- ogy emerged as a clear starring actor in 2023. However, discussions around AI's influence on the industry often forgot to mention the group that is simultaneously most at risk and benefits the most from the tech: visual e©ects artists. The creative aspect of the technology has potential to upend the way studios produce content, from world building to animated character design and more, seemingly replacing humans in this pro- cess. But this doesn't mean VFX artists should start sending out job applications and heading to di©erent industries. While the tool holds potential to transform the way we work, produce content and en- gage with media, it also holds constraints that cause costly mistakes for studios in an already tough economic climate. VFX & AI: A relationship of pure imagination Similar to other industries, film studios are no stranger to workforce burnout and labor shortages. In fact, according to a survey from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), two-thirds of VFX artists felt a career in visual e©ects was not sustainable in the long term, with issues like work/life balance and turnaround restriction being frequent responses for top priorities for improvement. This is where AI comes in. VFX artists can cultivate a relationship with AI to help alleviate burdens and free up their time to support a better work/ life balance. For example, artists lever- aging generative AI can use the tool to create mock-ups or prototypes when designing special e©ects for a scene. The storyboarding process is tedious and time-consuming, but by partnering with technology, artists decrease the amount of time it takes to create and iterate storyboards. The quicker artists can source feedback from initial mock-ups and generate new ideas to get in front of the director or producer, the more time spent reworking these prototypes will lessen over time. By shortening the development cycle, VFX artists can focus their energy and sights on creating and perfecting the final designs, rather than spending countless hours reworking a mock-up that may get denied in less than :10. AI assistants, not designers While the benefits of generative AI in the VFX process are plentiful and help to achieve greater work/life balance, stu- dios will still heed caution when it comes to adopting the technology in 2024. In the interim of meaningful regulation, organizations are grappling with walking a fine line between successfully using AI to increase operational e¬ciency and avoiding potential intellectual property (IP) lawsuits. It may be beneficial to use technology to accelerate the storyboard- ing processes, but what happens when an approved design ends up violating copyright law, as the AI model was trained on IP that never received permis- sion for use? These concerns won't halt the use of AI entirely, but they are reason to pause. Seeing that the 2023 strikes cost Hollywood more than $6 billion in pre- liminary estimates, studios cannot a©ord to take on lengthy and costly IP lawsuits. Instead, studios will focus on increased operational e¬ciency to make up for lost time, and the best way to do so is by le- veraging AI not for content creation, but as an assistant to VFX workers. These VFX assistants look like AI tools that take realtime notes in brainstorming sessions, or solutions that help artists with bare-bones designs, leaving the cre- ative work to the artists themselves. As 2024 continues to unfold and technology advances more, studios may be more comfortable letting artists use AI for larger projects. But, with a lack of regula- tion, its use case will remain focused on achieving back-end productivity. Technology will never replace creativity The year ahead will likely hold as many curveballs as 2023, but it's safe to as- sume that AI will remain in the passenger seat when it comes to VFX and film pro- duction. Regulation takes time and as the technology continues to develop, more lawsuits around training data and IP are likely to occur as training sets expand to accommodate development, making any monumental use of AI in film production a low chance. Most importantly, Hollywood must acknowledge and accept that generative AI cannot replace the importance of a human's creative touch. While technolo- gy is a great enhancer, it will never be able to replicate the creative and emotional experiences that are so critical to making film what it is today. As long as there is an audience and a desire for film, there will always be a need for the humans who share the stories on the screen. HOLLYWOOD'S A.I. TAKEOVER ISN'T WHAT YOU THINK BY BRAD HART CTO/VP, PRODUCT MANAGEMENT PERFORCE SOFTWARE WWW.PERFORCE.COM I.P. CONCERNS COULD SLOW A.I.'S USE IN FILMMAKING L

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