A.I. is changing the game

In just a few short years, the State of the Art of CGI and VFX will unfortunately be seen as “The Old Way” of doing it. Something that was unexpected to me is that technology would or could skip many steps to arrive at something we hadn’t even considered. I won’t say that this technology is “Better”, but what I will say is that it creates some aspects that are noticeably different than what any human mind has ever come up with in particular combination. For a jaded artist like me, who has seen EVERYTHING conceivable by man, and who sees new things as contrived and sometimes outright copies of previous work, This technology has exceeded this point. It creates and diffuses ideas so perfectly, and with such a real creativity, that I fear for the future. It arrives at images that are more believable than any photorealistic CGI ever done, and it does it in seconds with only words as prompts. A.I. is now being incorporated in some form or another in to most programs for CGI and VFX. Soon there will be no reason to hire us, when results can be achieved in seconds. . It’s faster, better, and more limitless than any human can be. We are stagnant and fettered, but always thought that we were boundless and limitless. It took something that actually WAS limitless to show us how wrong we were.

I don’t think we’re quite there, yet. We’re definitely heading in a direction where AI will be incorporated more into VFX. As someone who was hired many times in emergency situations as a rotoscope artist, I’ve already worked with AI tools that takes care of roto at insane speeds. I’ve since left VFX work, in most part due to the pandemic, and some respects due to outsourcing.

While AI can create impressive work in a matter of minutes, the animation of such imagery isn’t quite there, yet. And it still requires a creative artist to control the outcome of the work. Regarding work, not just AI but technology behind computers and machinery are also growing rapidly.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the show, “The Expanse”, but part of the back story of the show includes the situation where most people living on Earth are on some form of government assistance due to their jobs being replaced by technology and robotics. Technology is definitely going to affect a lot of jobs in many industries across the globe.

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I have been watching the state of the art of CGI VFX grow since the 90’s . I have seen everything that has been done and will admit that we are not there on the Motion front yet. However the still photos that I have seen it create since last November is better than any CGI done by anyone I have ever seen. It does things that no human has ever done. I don’t know how, but I have in my files, over 3,000 examples of everything from architectural house and room design, Handbags, Ties, and scenes that look like something out of movies I want to see. It’s doing it in a way , somehow different from the steps that a VFX or photoshop artist would take to integrate and homogenize elements. The decisions that it makes in such creative ways are mind boggling. I mean, we have always had programs that track automatically and do all sorts of automatic actions which save time. Recently, a free “Deepfake” software redid the DeAging on “The Irishman” and it showed that by coming at a thing in a completely different way, you CAN get better results than rooms full of technicians on 100 million dollar films. I mean, we can all compare certain film effects on major films with AI, like Fog for instance or smoke. Midjourney is able to incorporate something like fog in a dark forest in such a realistic way, it’s obvious how superior it is to what has been done. In around 5 years it should be at full motion. Definitely within 15 years you will be able to come home from work, put on VR Goggles and go somewhere else, with piped in smells and sounds that will put you right on the Jamaican beach instantly.

Though there’s still lawsuits against the main AI image generating companies so until those are sorted out then they can’t really be used for a delivered work (not without risk of being sued in some way). As far as I know they haven’t released stuff that’s guaranteed to have been trained just on authorised content (though I think I read that stable diffusion removed copyrighted stuff from their newer release(s) but I don’t know if it’s guaranteed to have no copyright issues).

There’s very hight quality, convincing text 2 video AI generation software as far as I can see and what there is has been trained on copyrighted content which can contain watermarks so is unusable and the current stuff is low res and very short (about 256x256 pixels, 2 secs, low frame rate), they’re making a higher res one where I think you can specify more things (such as frame rate and maybe make it longer) but if they’re still using datasets for the ai model with copyrighted content (eg. for the base model I think they’re using the same model as the original, that has the watermarks) then it’s also unusable as it is as it could get someone sued. Maybe they should allow users to train them on their own stuff if they can’t guarantee that everything they’ve trained it on is authorised (without copyright problems).

Also if something is totally ai generated from just a prompt then it may not be able to be copyrighted (at least that’s what the US copyright office seemed to say). There has to be enough human input (according to them) for it to be copyrightable with the US copyright office.

I think that the VFX side is still a work in progress, to be sure, but I’m really worried about the ‘concept art’ folks in the near term. Concept Art has always functioned on the level of “good enough.” It just needs to provide a point for visualization for production, to congeal that common vision. I think that the still images are rapidly reaching the point that a well written description will achieve that goal. Slight chances in description yield multiple version quickly. 'Ok, one in red, blue, orange, pink scottish tartan…"

My daughter loves to draw and has wanting to do drawing like that for movies/games since she was a kid. I worry she won’t even get out of school before the jobs are nearly obsolete.

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Thank god for CopyCat. Sure, some time sink went into waiting for it to do the calculation but throwing super fast moving roto work through dailies is hell. Many eyes are always going to be better than your own. Letting copycat handled the blowing grey cape in front of a nearly equally grey ocean was a huge help for me. This allowed me to move on to more creative based tasks and reduce burnout.

Don’t be afraid of AI. There’s always going to be a need for someone to drive the AI. I predict a very near future where being an AI Jockey is actually a thing.