It did not surprise me when producer Ed Saatchi, previously Emmy-award winning head of Oculus Story Studio and current CEO of Fable, told me he was going to co-produce an AI film, White Mirror. His previous VR Film, Wolves in the Wall, starred Lucy, an AI enabled character.
Inside the Wolves experience, the user is cast as Lucy’s imaginary friend. Fable experimented with Lucy, taking her outside the Wolves story, and treating her like a child star who played a role in their VR production. Lucy attended SXSW (virtually) in 2021. The company tested Lucy as a virtual friend, too. All of this was done using a previous version of chatGPT three years ago. It’s come much farther since then.
White Mirror is a feature length anthology consisting of ten short films produced by artist-led ‘Collectives’ which will each focus on a piece of a meta story about human-machine collaboration. Each Collective receives exclusive access to the latest AI technology from Open AI, Midjourney, and Google Cloud. An animated feature costs more than $10,000 per second, but with White Mirror they are seeing costs lower than $10,000 per minute. The first four AI directors to sign on are interactive artist Tabitha Swanson, production designer Tino Schaedler and director Paul Trillo.
Partnered with Saatchi’s The Culture DAO, a guild of AI Game and AI Movie makers, is CHAPTR (sic). CEO Philipp Nastaly describes CHAPTR as “a company builder or venture studio that is focusing on exploring and actually building new media business models emerging from the two main paradigm shifts that we currently see in media. One is web3, so the community economy, people coming together, aligning towards the common goal and then making that great idea happen without the necessity of an intermediary.”
CHATPR Creative Director Mario Clement said in an interview that an “AI movie for us means that there’s still a writer-director. In this case, that writer-director might be like a novelist in that they can actually make the whole bloody movie themselves. I think that’s a massive change for this art form, which has been so expensive.”
Hollywood is starting to take notice of AI as well. Robert Zemeckis is working with StableDiffusion for his new film Here. At last week’s AI Film Festival in New York, presented by Saatchi’s Culture DAO, Darren Aronofsky said of AI that “as far as conceptualizing ideas and projects and creating worlds, there’s clearly a huge tool that has been unlocked. There’s just so many possibilities for such a new type of visual landscape.”
As AI scales the peak of inflated expectations, every conceivable application will be tested. The mind reels contemplating the impact generative AI might have on science, engineering, medicine, education, enterprise, media and so much more. And, as we saw recently with XR technologies, it is often artists who first experiment with using new technologies to tell more impactful stories.
VR filmmaker Eugene Chung made an extraordinary short dramatic scene of an elf breaking up with an Orc in an American diner, spoken in iambic pentameter, in less than an hour, while riding ski lifts in Park City.
I had my students do it, too, using the same tools: ChatGPT, Mid-Journey, Eleven Labs, and D-ID. If we can make a scene this way, you can make a movie. This could help further democratize content creation, unleashing an unprecedented wave of creativity and content.
Saatchi told me he expects White Mirror to be completed in time for the Venice Film Festival in September.