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What Sora (AI Video) Means For Indie Filmmakers

Over the past week we’ve seen a ton of AI-generated videos made by Sora – the new platform by Open AI.

While Sora is not yet publicly available, the company has been releasing dozens of sample clips made with it. Many of which are hard to distinguish from reality.

Personally, I did not imagine this level of sophistication would be possible. At least not so soon.

Of all the clips I saw, it was this video of golden retrievers playing in the snow that first blew me away. The movement of the dogs, the realism of the snow, the lighting… It is indistinguishable from reality. 

Try attempting this clip using CGI. Even the best post team in the world with millions of dollars in resources could not replicate it.

Right now, we are still in the earliest days of AI video.

Sora isn’t even public yet, and many other competitors will follow. Just imagine where we will be a year from now, let alone five years down the line.

It’s anyone’s guess as to how drastically AI will impact the film industry. My estimation is that it will be (by far and away) the biggest sea change that we’ve ever seen.

There have been some hugely disruptive moments in cinema. The advent of sync sound. Color cinematography. Widescreen projection. Digital workflows. Home video. Streaming. The list goes on…

But AI will change things more than every disruption combined. 

In each of the previous examples, only one aspect of the industry was disrupted. Whether it how movies were shot, or how they were exhibited.

AI is different as it impacts everything. Ideation. Writing. Financing. Cinematography. Post-Production. Distribution… You name it.

Sora is just the most shocking example right now, because we can see it so clearly with our own eyes. But AI is already sneaking its way into every facet of our business.

So where does this all take us?

It feels inevitable that studios will continue lean into AI heavily. As they already have been doing.

The big players will leverage AI to predict market trends. To produce TV series with minimal human involvement. To animate without animators. And inevitably, to launch streaming platforms where users can choose and create their own story.

But I believe all of this will backfire in a massive way.

I genuinely don’t see a world in which the average consumer wants to watch fully computer generated content. 

For 100+ years of cinema, it’s been about the movie star. People show up to see Meryl Streep or Denzel Washington, not a CGI created celebrity.

They want to see what their favorite writer or director or producer is putting out next. Not what V3.0 of Sora cooked up.

To draw a parallel, look no further than the music industry.

Dozens of artists might have a nearly identical sound and genre. But the one that cuts through is the artist with a story and personality that fans buy into.

They connect with the art because they connect with the human being behind it. 

You can’t just take the human component out of it. No matter if we’re talking about music, film, or any other art form.

We’ve been told we’re heading into an AI world where you will be able to prompt Netflix to create any movie you want. But how long could that entertain people beyond the novelty of it?

The reason Game of Thrones or any other hit TV show is so successful is because of word of mouth. You stream it at home and talk about it at work the next day with your friends.

Now imagine everyone is watching their own TV show that no one else has ever heard of. There may be some novelty in the experience, but it completely removes the communal experience.

Without that, there is no word of mouth. No buzz. No real interest.

So what does this mean for the average indie filmmaker?

As an optimist, I have to believe this will bring an exciting new wave of indie filmmaking to the forefront.

While the studios inevitably become more predictable and robotic, indie artists will be pushed further in the opposite direction.

We will fill the void left by the studios, by creating art that is more human, and therefore valued at a premium by the audience.

Studios will become more like computer companies. They’ll shift into a lane that leverages AI for immediate profit, but at the long term expense of their business.

At the same time, indie filmmakers will tap into the more positive aspects of AI.

For us, it will never be about eliminating the human component. But perhaps experimenting with new tools that enhance our natural creativity, and making our processes simpler and more efficient. 

I’ve heard a few filmmakers recently question whether they want to keep making films. Mainly because AI tech is getting so advanced that they don’t see a future for the industry.

My feeling is this: There has still never been a better time to create. 

Yes, there is uncertainty, but there always has been.

Much of the emerging tech will only make it easier and less expensive for indie filmmakers to create on a high level.

And these films will only stand out more, against the growing landscape of studio “content”.

So definitely keep your eye on the ball with AI developments. But don’t let anything discourage you from creating.

This is the still the best time in history to make your movie.


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About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

2 Comments

  • Stefano Voltaggio
    at

    I agree with the idea that “there will always be space for human creation”. However, artistic creation is an attribute of the few. There are thousands of artisans in our industry, but very few artists. The difference being: while the artisan reproduces an existing model, the artist creates a new model. AI can efficiently reproduce models. To create new ones we need humans. But industrial production is based upon the fordist reproduction of narrative models. In the (near) future, we will see less artisans (workers in our industry) and a few artists who will multiply their glory. I am not sure I completely agree with the idea that people won’t empathise with AI generated characters. Just think about what stars some Pixar characters have become.

    Reply
    • Sure, but those Pixar characters are written by, visualised by, animated by, scripted by and voiced by humans (in the case of voicing, generally highly popular movie stars).

      I don’t disagree that we’ll see a lot of content where those qualities are absent, but it will be even more limited in appeal even than current derivative lowest-common-denominator content is now.

      Reply

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