Could a machine turn your idea into a movie with the push of a button?
Perhaps in the not too distant future.
Imagine: rather than choosing a pre-made movie, you choose elements of a story, and watch as artificial intelligence (AI) produces a custom film on demand. Your selections could include things like genre, period, and cast. You might opt to pair actors from different eras. Or perhaps you'd like to star in every role yourself, like in Being John Malkovich.
I've been thinking of this concept as “Full Metal Filmmaking.”
Sound far-fetched? Keep in mind, we’ve established that AI language models are becoming better at screenwriting. We’ve seen deepfake creators replace actors very convincingly, and that machine learning (ML) enabled voice cloning is getting dangerously good too.
Entertainment studios are heavily incentivized to invest in advancing these technologies. They stand to save millions per project, while exponentially increasing the variety and volume of content produced.
Tools are already being developed that produce visuals in real-time collaboration with human input. Take the Generative Engine created by Runway. The company describes it as “A storytelling machine that automatically generates synthetic images as you write new words and sentences.”
It’s delightful to play with. Try it! I typed the words, “A very handsome man,” and here’s what I got:
I don’t know that I’d call him handsome. Too many mouth-eyes for my taste. Perhaps we just need to dress him up a bit? Here's “A very handsome man in a blue shirt.”
Yes, that’s much better.
Runway's Generative Engine produces images ranging from grotesque to strangely beautiful. The image shifts continuously as you type, but it's not what you would call literal. Here's "Pink flowers and beautiful fairies."
Hmmm… Perhaps I have not convinced you of the promise this technology holds? I’ll admit these images don’t yet resemble spellbinding film experiences.
Keep in mind, however, this is a simple version of the tool available on the web for public amusement. It may produce the equivalent of toddler crayon scribbles, but it's a machine that makes art as you describe it! Pretty amazing.
There are, of course, crucial missing components in the technology necessary to produce content as sophisticated and lengthy as a feature film.
Still, synthetic image generation is one more element that points to Full Metal Filmmaking becoming a reality in our lifetimes. Just think, our handsome man could be a star!