Artificial Intelligence’s impact on filmmaking

(c) Alex Knight, Unsplash

In recent years, there has been an important increase on the use of AI in the audiovisual and media sectors. This raises key questions on authorship and creativity.

In February 2021, an event organised by the European Broadcasting Union shed light on the different ways the media and audiovisual sectors are already using AI. Among the guests were the Dutch broadcaster VPRO, which organised in 2020 an AI Song Contest in which creators were required to make use of AI to compose their songs. The BBC showcased its experiments with automated journalism to sustain local news. France Télévisions explained how they applied deepfake technology to replace a missing actress in several shots for one of their series. Other possible applications include autonomous cameras that can follow the actors’ faces and software that facilitates the edition of film content. There have also been attempts to create original content with AI, such as RTBF’s Love eXperiment, which worked with emotion detection software to compose an episode of a dating show. 

Adoption of AI technologies will most likely play a greater role in the future, but more case studies are still needed to explore the different possibilities it offers. AI’s expected boost raises questions about the future of the cultural and creative sector. On the one hand, some fear a replacement of authors’ creativity with these new technologies. Provided with access to millions of datasets, AI systems could prove much faster than human beings in developing content at a large scale and to predict how successful it will be. On the other hand, for the moment, successful applications of AI require a strong human input. While it can be a practical tool in some respects, AI mostly plays a supporting role, with human directors and creators being in charge. According to this analysis carried out for the Cultural Committee of the European Parliament in May 2020, the audiovisual sector in Europe is employing AI on a large scale to improve content accessibility rather than to boost creativity. Many participants in the study also highlighted that AI could help maintain the culturally diverse European cultural ecosystem.

As we mentioned in our blogpost last year, there are some legal challenges to this new trend, including that of authorship of AI-based content. The European institutions have been exploring these questions in the past few months. Last November, the Commission released an Action Plan on Intellectual Property where it clarified that AI systems cannot be considered authors or creators. Additionally, a study commissioned by the Commission will explore the interaction between artificial intelligence (AI) and the creative industries. The Commission is also expected to propose legislation on AI in April 2021, as a follow up to their White Paper from last year.

As I learned more about AI technologies, I realised that they are already very present in our daily lives. Online platforms use AI to recommend us products, the transportation sector uses it to prevent congestion and it is increasingly used in healthcare, among many other sectors. It is true that the cultural sector is unique in that it relies on the authors’ creativity and originality. But AI can enhance that creativity through the use of databases. It can also facilitate tasks that now take a lot of time such as editing content or even recording. In my view, using AI on a wider scale can benefit both the authors and the consumers.

The SAA closely follows the development and debates on this topic to learn how the future of artificial intelligence will impact screenwriters and directors’ filmmaking.

@josearroyonieto, intern at the SAA