The film industry is enduring a seismic shift that challenges our current understanding of reality and narrative. The Frost, an AI-generated short film, exemplifies a new era of AI-driven cinema and represents a quantum breakthrough in the evolution of this art form. The film is the invention of Waymark, a video production company based in Detroit. Each photo was generated by feeding a script to OpenAI’s image-making model DALL-E 2. Then, they used D-ID, an AI tool, to animate these images by making the eyes blink and the lips move, thereby giving life to a world created by AI.
The Frost is a surreal combination of the familiar and the eerie. It conjures a familiar setting while instilling a sense of dread, from its vast icy mountains to the group of people huddled around a fire. The movement of a man’s lips while consuming jerky is disturbingly grotesque, as if he were chewing his frozen tongue. This disconcerting world of AI filmmaking is more than a technological novelty; it is a new aesthetic, a “fun collaged vibe,” as independent filmmaker Souki Mehdaoui described.
However, The Frost is merely the tip of the iceberg generated by AI. Recently, a series of short films have been released, each with a distinct style and technique. Some utilize storyboard-like sequences of still images, whereas others stitch together multiple seconds-long video segments, all testing the limits of what generative video models can do. The AI film festival hosted by Runway earlier this year highlighted the fascinating diversity of AI-powered cinema, from the alien aquatic creatures in PLSTC to the surreal 3D virtual objects in Given Again.
The implications of this new cinematic paradigm extend beyond the realm of art to the realm of business. Waymark’s investigation of The Frost is motivated by its desire to apply generative AI to its commercial offerings. The company and others, such as Softcube and Vedia AI, offer video creation tools to businesses seeking quick and affordable ways to create advertisements. Their current technology integrates large language models, image recognition, and speech synthesis to generate real-time video advertisements, with a tiered subscription service beginning at $25 per month.
Waymark’s tool enables businesses to create sleek, sixty-second commercials in seconds, and it has more than 100,000 users. Waymark’s investment in generative AI seeks to create value if a business lacks visual assets from which to draw. Creating images and videos from inception can give companies a distinct aesthetic or ‘vibe.’
Despite significant progress, the technology is still in its infancy. While intriguing and provocative, The Frost is not without faults. However, the medium’s creators regard these flaws as part of the medium’s appeal. The process of trial-and-error will presumably improve over time. The revolutionary aspect of the technology is its capacity to generate new images on demand, providing filmmakers with a novel level of control and flexibility.
Chris Boyle, the co-founder of Private Island, a London-based short-form video startup, expressed a sense of vertigo when he realized that “this is going to change everything” in light of these developments. His company has produced commercials for global brands and blockbuster films in post-production and utilized AI tools.
Cinema, one of the most revered forms of art and entertainment, is being transformed in ways we could scarcely have envisaged a decade ago as we stand on the verge of the AI revolution. The AI-generated short film ‘The Frost’ provides a striking illustration of this. The film, produced by the Detroit-based video production company Waymark, depicts an unsettling universe in which every shot was generated by the image-generating AI DALL-E 2 and animated using D-ID. This AI tool adds movement to still images. This emerging genre employs generative AI technology, revolutionizing filmmaking and redefining creative boundaries.
The 12-minute film The Frost begins with a vast icy landscape, a military-style tent camp, and individuals huddled around a fire. As described by the film’s director, Josh Rubin, the imagery evokes a sense of unease, an atmosphere that is both familiar and foreign in its surreal aesthetic. This unsettling world’s startlingly bizarre visuals represent a new artistic frontier that conventional filmmaking techniques could not attain.
This venture into AI-generated filmmaking is not merely an experiment but indicative of the film industry’s accelerated evolution. In the past few months, various generative AI tools have been used to create short films, each exhibiting a unique range of styles and techniques. Rubin’s ‘The Frost’ joins the ranks of such groundbreaking works as ‘PLSTC’ by Laen Sanches and ‘Expanded Childhood’ by Sam Lawton, both of which used AI models to generate their distinctive visuals.
This seismic transformation in the film industry is artistic and pragmatic. AI programs offer a quick, inexpensive, and compelling video creation method. This has attracted industries such as advertising, with companies such as Waymark investigating how to incorporate generative AI into their products.
For example, Waymark’s current subscription service utility enables users to generate a video advertisement in seconds by providing a business’s name and location. The tool scrapes the company’s websites and social media accounts for text and images, utilizing OpenAI’s GPT-3 to generate a script read audibly by a synthetic voice over selected images. However, the potential of this technology goes beyond mere efficacy. Using artificial intelligence, filmmakers can generate new images on demand, offering flexibility and originality that traditional methods cannot match.
Despite these advancements, artificial intelligence-generated filmmaking is still in its inception. “The Frost,” despite its originality, is admittedly flawed. Rubin observes the difficulty in eliciting emotional responses in faces using DALL-E, indicating that the technology has a long way to go before replicating human expressiveness.
Nonetheless, there is a sense of enormous potential. Private Island, a London-based startup that has produced advertisements for global brands, has also embraced AI tools. Using Runway’s video-making model Gen-2 and Stability AI’s image-making model Stable Diffusion, they recently created a parody beer commercial to demonstrate the potential of AI in commercial video production.
The advent of artificial intelligence in the film industry signifies a radical shift in the art and commerce of filmmaking. It is a new frontier teeming with opportunities and obstacles that artists and technologists are beginning to explore. As AI technology improves and evolves, we can anticipate even more shocking and surreal works that stretch the limits of cinematic storytelling.