Soon you will be able to make your own feature film using artificial intelligence

Images generated by the Midjourney artificial intelligence platform.
Art: Johnny Weiss/Midjourney

There is new Take out the knives movie on Netflix, and I still haven’t seen a few of this season’s award winners. But the movie I wish I could see right now is Squid invasion from the depths. It is a science fiction film directed by John Carpenter about a team of scientists led by Sigourney Weaver who discover an extraterrestrial cephalopod and then die one by one in its claws. Production design inspired by alien And the thing; There’s hand-crafted creature FX and plenty of gore; Wilford Brimley has a cameo. Unfortunately, I can’t watch this movie, and neither can you, because it doesn’t exist.

right Now, Squid invasion is just a collection of concept art that an editor conjured up with Midjourney, an AI tool that creates images from human-submitted text messages. Midjourney was released in public beta over the summer and for months featured mostly visual gibberish. “I was trying to paint a picture of Joe Rogan fighting a chimpanzee, and it sounded like nightmare fuel,” says Reddit user OverlyManlySnail, whose real name is Johnny Weiss. Then, in November, the software was upgraded to version four. I began to effortlessly translate complex suggestions (“DVD screen image, John Carpenter’s 1980s horror movie, alien squid attacking a terrifying Sigourney Weaver, blood everywhere, ultra wide shot, great cinematography, 16mm.”) into fantasy movie stills. It looks good enough to be real. Some of them look better than anything else in Hollywood’s current line of production: bizarre, more explicitly composed, less computer-generated sounds though they in full I was born with a computer.

Soon, Hollywood may be in direct competition with generative AI tools, which, unlike self-driving cars or other technologies long promised that never arrived, are already here and improving rapidly. Meta and Google have announced software that converts text messages into short videos; Another tool, Phenaki, can make entire scenes. None of these video generators have been released to the public yet, but the D-ID company offers an AI app that can make people in still images blink and read from text, and some have used it to animate characters created by Midjourney. “In the next few years, we could easily see a big movie made almost entirely with AI,” says Matthew Kershaw, vice president of marketing and growth for D-ID. One day, instead of browsing our Rokus for something to watch, we might green light our own entertainment by touting algorithms that could make feature films with well-developed plots, cool effects, and human actors from any era.

One obstacle to this future is that weird user prompts are no substitute for good scripts. Someone (or something) needs to tell the video generators what to create for two hours. But progress is being made on this front as well, because it turns out ChatGPT – the new AI chat bot that can write code, college essays, and Instructional raps about how to change your engine oil He is also an aspiring screenwriter.

With permission from Weiss, I asked ChatGPT to develop a plot for Squid invasion. I described concept images and told her to create an outline for the film, which I’ll summarize: In a research lab far out in the ocean, scientists discover a species of alien squid, which are highly intelligent and can regenerate their bodies after injury. The squid escapes from the containment tanks and kills many researchers. The humans fight back with guns and other weapons, but that only makes the squid angrier. The scientists destroy the lab with a reactor explosion that they hope will also kill the squid. The film ends with the survivors celebrating their narrow escape – and their colleagues mourning.

This may not pack many narrative surprises or break genre conventions, but it does imply that ChatGPT understands basic story logic in a way that’s far from human. Even, at my request, she suggested a decent ending: another alien race contacting the survivors and revealing that the cuttlefish were a peaceful and misunderstood species.

What ChatGPT can’t do so far is write an actual script. The software that powers most current AI language generators can only process texts of 1,500 words or less, making it difficult to produce coherent works of their own that no longer exist. But after many failed attempts, I got ChatGPT to craft some Squid invasionthe first scene.

Dr. Samantha Carter

These squid are incredible.

Dr. James Jones

Yes, they are definitely a thing. But we have to be careful. These deep sea creatures can be dangerous.

Dr. Mike Smith

I agree. We need to study them carefully and make sure they don’t pose a threat.

Dr. Carter

Oh no! Squids are attacking!

Dr. Jones

Grab a flamethrower.

These lines are bad. But not so bad that I can’t imagine them being delivered in a thoroughly enjoyable Gerard Butler movie. The AI ​​may never be Robert Towne, but with the next generation of language bots expected next year, its writers are Black Adam He must be nervous.

Some have argued that the AI ​​tools are not as smart as they seem, that they are incapable of original thinking and can only use parrots for their training materials. This may hinder them in some areas. But in Hollywood, shallow criticism of pre-existing intellectual property is a cherished and profitable skill. Some of the most blockbuster movies of 2022, including Top Gun: Maverick And the Elvis , You have a tightly nostalgic tinge to AI creations.

A few filmmakers have already adopted this technology for specific applications. Director Scott Mann used machine learning in his 2022 thriller FallAnd the Changing the actors’ mouths to remove swear words and avoid an R rating was used the next year Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny To make an 80-year-old Harrison Ford look 45. South Park Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone recently secured a $20 million investment for their new venture Deep Voodoo, an entertainment studio that will provide low-cost pseudo-visual effects. And to James Cameron Avatar: Water Way, FX studio Weta deployed AI to give Na’vi characters realistic facial muscles that move in concert. “In previous systems, if we wanted to change a character’s smile, we had to go in and animate all the pieces, and there was a lot of work to keep it from looking rubbery,” says Weta’s chief visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri. “This got us to a normal place much sooner.” Letteri doesn’t expect AI to produce any of it symbol picture The films themselves, though, are at least not close: “We had 1,600 VFX artists working on this movie and another 1,600 in live action. We worked on it for five years. You wouldn’t get that from a record.”

But Hollywood agencies and law firms are preparing for a future in which clients like Weaver could be unwittingly thrown into a fever dream by some Redditor.. “These tools are exciting, but what’s most important to us is that the companies behind them respect the talent and get approval for names, images, and likenesses,” says Johanna Popper, CAA’s chief metaverse officer. “We want to protect creators so they have opportunities to monetize their work and images so others can’t take advantage of them.”

Artist names that are not approved by user claims can be blocked by AI generators. But that won’t change the fact that many of the tools have already been taught through the work of these artists. the reason Squid invasion Capable of pinning sci-fi aesthetics from the late 1970s to early 1980s because Midjourney’s training data likely includes still images from actual movies of the era, among millions of other copyrighted images. “We’re talking about software that learns from content but doesn’t necessarily deliver the content it learned from,” says Jeffrey Neuburger, intellectual property attorney at Proskauer Rose LLP. So who owns the copyright to the work they create? This raises questions about fair use as well as publicity rights. This is one of those situations where the law has to catch up with new technology.

In other words, we need to study these tools carefully and ensure that they do not pose a threat. Grab a flamethrower.

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