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  • Writer's pictureryan@socialbrain

Is 2024 the year for AI in video or is it just a mass hallucination?

Updated: Feb 2

2023 was the year we all got hooked on AI. Not that we all started using AI, but rather that the business world at large realised that it will play a huge role in the not so distant future.

But how do we use AI in video? And is it up to making viable marketing campaigns?

I thought I'd take a look a the most famous AI campaign so far and some of the ways the tech will impact video production.


There has been a digital tsunami of AI related news and prognostications over the course of 2023. We've been told that the lies AI search engines can be prone to tell are called 'hallucinations'. We've been told that Microsoft now has the upper hand on Google.

Media pundits have stated that AI will totally transform workflows, create opportunities for hackers, cause mass layoffs and that, left unchecked, AI could spell the end of the world.


The forecasts are worth bearing in mind, but as someone who dabbles with various AI image and language applications, I can't help but notice that media typically offers few specifics about which functions & industries it will change for the better. This is undoubtedly because the scope of AI’s impact is going to be sweeping and focusing on the downside gets clicks. Addressing specifics while we stand in the path of the tsunami is tricky, but it is worth an attempt before we are swept away...



Producing video with AI: a few examples


AI For video encompasses many functions in the planning, production & distribution chain.

For video production, AI is impacting wide-ranging processes : image generation, rotoscoping, effect generation, colouring, storyboarding, generation of AI avatars (hosts that can speak in multiple languages or look however we require), VR studios with projected backgrounds as opposed to greenscreen (Volume), and even the editing process itself.


The innovations range from burgeoning to massive, and are impacting those in front of and behind the camera. They have been taking place for the last decade or so, but what has changed now is access to tech and a growing acceptance for AI aesthetics by both the industry and the general public.


AI will result in an alternative route for many forms and elements of production - not simply an extinction level event. It will certainly cut entire tasks from the production process and many of these jobs, on the planning & post-production sides at least, will be those that are least desirable and rewarding as creative tasks.

If no one ever has to rotoscope 10 secs of a stunt performance again it will be too soon!


Of all of the mass access services and plug-ins available, the most buzzy are those which generate content from scratch. There is a deluge of apps that can perform this task (Dall-e, Deepai, Pixlr, Leonardoai) and many of the big incumbents are trying their hand too (Adobe, Canva), but the image generators I find most compelling are Midjourney https://www.midjourney.com/ and Runway https://runwayml.com/

Midjourney produces rights free still images at a detail level well above the fray, and Runway can be used to animate these images into short videos.

The videos can be glitchy and processing time makes it a real labour of love to create a coherent video, but embracing the mad look of AI video is all part of the fun.


A massive test for AI in a national political campaign


In late 2023 Argentina held a presidential election that featured campaigns run entirely off of AI.

Both major candidates - Javier Milei & Sergio Massa - ran work that referenced old posters from famous campaigns, and had political videos based on the famous and fantasitic. including Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (a Milk Bar clip with clunky face replacement) and Michael Bay-esque apocalyptic clips of rioting and cabinet members inserted beside militarised dinosaurs.

The fact that both major candidates leaned so heavily on AI resulted in a 'race to the bottom' for communications. Presidential candidates fighting for attention with meme based personality critiques.

Although the AI was doubtless guided by campaign managers and agencies, the net effect was that of spamming the public. Quantity over quality.



Check out more on the campaign at NYT


It would have been far more interesting to analyse the effect on audiences had one of the candidates opted to use traditional media, but this does seem to be a harbinger - Agencies will be willing to cede control of creative to generate the illusion of big budgets on a shoestring as long as it fits in with audience expectations.

The libertarian candidate, Millei, who appeared in the terrible Clockwork Orange faceswap by his opponent, won the presidency.


Leaning into the quirks of AI can have amazing results


Skilled editors like Douggy Pledger make incredible horror/ fantasy videos with these apps y leaning into the faults of the tech.

He sculpts giltchy soundscapes and undescrores the uneasiness of the tech with his dreamlike subjects (1920s Star Wars, reimamgings of the movie Labyrinth). Each clip is 3-6secs and movements are subtle - this is due to how usable each video is after the 'uncomfortably weird' sections are trimmed. Processing time is also a limiting factor with some short clips taking days to render.

The results, though, are beautiful. Especially if you're a Cronenberg fan and happy to embrace grotesqueries (and the odd 6 fingered humanoid) into your aesthetic.




How to Midjourney


Descriptive, concise language is the key to success with AI images. Having a good sense of history, geography, and art also helps immensely as every reference gives nuance to the output. If you're curious about generating AI images for marketing, Midjourney's worklfow is outlined here.



Just generating consistent characters acoss shots in Midjourney requires a vision, patience and prompting skills.  Character constants are important to creating narrative AI video as characters need to remain recognisable between shots. There are hacks for this too, as shown in this Gilbatree video.




Once you have some mastery over the image and video capabilities of AI you'll want to distribute your video effectively and employ a few AI shortcuts here too.


There are a raft of seeding functions that have been impacted by AI, including, but not limited to: copywriting, post timing, transcribing, SEO insight generation, audience interaction, video reformatting, and cross posting.

Even when we get specific within one part of one industry, the breadth of AI applications that can be employed is daunting. So much so, in fact, that I'll save specifics on some of these services for a later post...


Employing for AI video Skill-sets


Anyone can use these AI image services, but for impressive results there are a few skills that make a difference: a good working knowledge of video production, some knowledge of film/ art history, and a facility for language.


This is kind of the point for those looking to adopt AI - we still need experts who can understand the macro & micro of a system to implement the AI - we're not at anywhere near the stage where human insight & expertise will be rendered superfluous.


There will likely be a trend back to employers looking for qualifications in the liberal arts and English (rare fields of study presently). These skills stand to become a real driver for all AI, and as all marketing operates on an emotional wavelength, human experts with sound artistic judgement will always be core to the creative process.

Experienced marketers know what effects even a subtle change in creative - visual or language - can have on engagement.


Have fun but proceed with caution


The benefits that accrue from an AI enabled workflow will undoubtedly make video content production & distribution faster and less labour intensive... eventually.

In the short term AI will certainly make video campaigns more fantastical as there is an inbuilt glitchy-ness/ magical realism to the present tech that will have to be embraced as AI learns to produce convincingly realistic live action.


What works with AI for one audience (say, Argentine voters en masse) will not work for another (most stripes of Australian voters). And considering the age demographic and social media exposure it takes to appreciate AI video presently, Gen Z and Millennial targets seem best suited. This audience will trust any brand that 'gets the joke', are meme-fed, and they want brands to get weird.


Remember that your core branding goal should always be to build trust. AI- just like The Outer Limits - can "deluge your customers with a thousand channels or expand one single image to crystal clarity... and beyond". The 'Beyond' here, is most likely the territory where your audience begins to feel like they are experiencing an AI induced hallucination.






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