How new AI and digital technologies are changing the future of cinema

Technology is starting to play a bigger role in Hollywood.

We’ve seen Bitcoin tokens traded to fund projects, CGI characters are starting to look more and more realistic, and it seems like everyone with an ounce of fame is selling NFTs. Unfortunately, some filmmakers, like Quentin Tarantino, have learned that their work is not theirs since the introduction of these new technologies to the industry.

In early November 2021, Tarantino announced plans to auction off seven uncut scenes from pulp Fiction as NFT. Miramax then claimed that the director only owns the rights to the original script and not intellectual property, arguing that reproducing copies of his original screenplay is outside of Tarantino’s rights.

To put it in simple terms, Miramax told Tarantino that he owns the bragging rights to the film. Pulp Fiction. With the case in federal court in Los Angeles, many studio executives and filmmakers are watching, wondering who has the rights to what as more technology is introduced.

‘Pulp Fiction’Credit: Miramax Movies

Hollywood and technology

Amy Siegel, partner and co-head of the entertainment, sports and media industry group at O’Melveny & Myers, told Variety, “We have new technology. We spend a lot of time exploring and really trying to figure out if our customers have those rights to exploit with new technologies.

“I don’t think there’s any normality yet,” Siegel said.

Digital technology is reshaping the entertainment industry, raising the question of who is entitled to benefit from the end product.

Hollywood has already taken steps to incorporate modern technologies into the film and television industry. Creative Artists Agency recently appointed a metaverse director, Joanna Popper. Popper will oversee the launch of technologies such as virtual reality headsets that will be used for rights management, piracy minimization and consumer usage tracking.

“Now it’s going into this new realm where it starts with the creativity of art, but there’s a broader level of [a] scenario attached to it, as well as an integrated community [that wants] these projects succeed,” Popper told Variety.

But the technology doesn’t stop at VR headsets and NFTs. It now extends to on-screen talent.

The best AIs in the industry today

We’ve already covered that, but let’s check out the best AI in the industry. For example, meet Jenkins the valet.

Jenkins is a digital character created by Tally Labs, a company that creates intellectual property designed for the Metaverse. The digital character writes stories about his encounters in the metaverse and has his own NFTs. Jenkins is a digital character represented by CAA, but he’s not the only one.

Miquela is a CGI avatar breaking into Hollywood
Millie Bobby Brown and CGI actress and singer MiquelaCredit: Samsung

In 2020, CAA began representing Instagram influencer and artist Miquela, an avatar puppeted by Los Angeles-based startup Brud. Miquela launched on Instagram in April 2016, quickly gaining a following that reached 3 million, and sparked the question, “Is she real?”

According to Variety, “CAA will work with Miquela in all areas, including TV, film and branding and commercial endorsements, increasing the prospect of a film or show featuring the character. WME has confirmed that he had previously replaced Miquela in partnership with Brud.”

Real or not, Miquela has created a career in entertainment that has “the power to inspire a new generation.” Brud’s reps told Variety that Miquela’s virtual personality allows her to behave almost like a human, saying, “He may be a robot, but nobody’s perfect.”

But if you’re looking for an actor who still looks like a human, look no further than Hour One, a company that offers high-quality, affordable, and scalable video productions. Hour One began using people’s likenesses to create AI-voiced characters that appear in marketing and educational videos.

Hour One combines people's resemblance with AI to create new video productions for customers
Credit: First hour

Hour One uses deepfake technology to produce mixes of real footage and AI-generated video, and it’s not the only ones. The difference is that Hour One doesn’t require any special skills from the actor or the person who wants to rent their faces to the company.

According MIT Technology Review, there are over 100 “characters” in the Hour One books, with more being added every week. The company can generate an endless amount of footage of the person saying what they need to say in any language for any customer.

“We’re replacing the studio,” said Natalie Monbiot, Hour One’s chief strategy officer. “A human being does not need to waste time filming.” Removing the need for camera crews, studio techs, and actors is alluring to clients who don’t want to spend a ton of money on video production.

People who sold their likenesses to Hour One receive micropayments each time a customer licenses a video using their face.

Hour One doesn’t let the people who sold their image have a say in how it will be used or what words will be put in their mouths. Fortunately, there is an ethics policy specifying certain industries that the company will not work with, which means that people’s likenesses will not be used to advertise gambling, sex or politics.

Don’t forget the bots

Not all AI in the industry exists in digital space.

Erica is a robot who starred in the $70 million sci-fi movie, b. Created by Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa, Erica learned to act by applying the principles of the Action Method to her artificial intelligence.

“In other acting methods, actors bring their own life experiences into the role,” Khoze explains. “But Erica has no life experience. She was created from scratch to play the role. We had to simulate his movements and emotions in one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of his movements, talking about his feelings, and framing character development and body language.

Not every story calls for a humanoid actor like Erica. Sometimes a robot just needs to look like a robot like C-3P0 in star wars or Chappie in Chappy. That’s where entrepreneurs Forest Gibson and Jared Cheshier come in.

Two years ago, Seattle-based entrepreneurs launched The Aigency, a new talent agency for robot actors. According geek threadthe company connects film production studios, event organizers and other media groups with robots, replicating what traditional talent agencies do for human actors.

“We’re taking care of the logistics to get the robots on set and into character for their performance,” Gibson told Geek Wire. “We then support the media and promotions of the production through social media, red carpet events and press tours with our talent. It’s similar to how media producers would go about choosing actors represented by agents.”

Like traditional talent agencies, The Aigency makes money by taking a percentage of what the talent earns for their performances.

“We believe there is an opportunity to tell positive stories about how robots will play an increasingly important role in our daily lives alongside us,” Gibson said in a statement. “This new wave of widespread robotics allows them to walk/roll/jump off set and onto the red carpet with the rest of the cast. It adds a whole new dimension to how viewers and fans can interact with robotic personalities. .”

The Aigency represents robot talent for the film and television industry
Forest Gibson and Jared Cheshier in a Boston Dynamics office. Credit: The Agency

Switch roles

Many of these new AI artists can make the industry extremely futuristic, especially at a time when the world still feels a little outdated. But many have expressed concerns about what the introduction of bots, deepfakes, AI and NFTs means for the future of the human workforce.

“It looks like a pretty extreme case of technology reducing the role of humans in a particular work process,” Jessie Hammerling, who studies the impact of new technologies on work at the University’s Center for Labor Research and Education from California to Berkeley, says the MIT Technology Review.

The studios, which now own the intellectual property of every film made under its auspices, can contact a team and create an actor who performs exactly as the executives want. As SAG-AFTRA, a union for American film, television and radio performers, has come out to protect those who sell their image to companies like Hour One, it is alarming that the availability of acting work can be significantly reduced.

It’s a strange time in the industry. Studios frustrated with battles over intellectual property rights may soon reduce the creativity of humans working on a project in favor of using AI and robots that are hired by an agency to develop projects that will cost very little. at the studio.

The future looks hazy right now as new technologies are introduced to Hollywood. With new technologies comes the uncertainty of which creative works belong to whom and who is allowed to enjoy art created by multiple individuals.

We can hope for the best and learn to embrace new technology entering the industry to create exciting new projects that bring out the beautiful weirdness of something new.