AI & Art: Changes in Animation, Special Effects, Film, Games & the Creative Industries

As both an artist and a technologist, the rise of artificial intelligence and its intersection with creativity is a topic of immense personal and professional interest to me. So when I was invited to participate in a panel discussion focused on AI’s growing role in the arts at the VANAS Conference Digital Entertainment 2023, I jumped at the opportunity.

The VANAS Conference is a premier event for Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Games hosted by VANAS. With a lineup of world-class speakers, the conference offers attendees the opportunity to learn from industry experts, stay up-to-date on the latest trends, and network with other professionals.

The panel I participated in was titled “Painting A Future With AI: Panel Presentation to Discuss Pitfalls & Potential For Your Creative Life” which was moderated by Jennifer Jue-Steuck, Co-chapter Head of Harvardwood. The other panelists included Katharine Montagu, Writer and Producer; Skye R. Regan, Director, Writer, Producer; Vishal Punwani, CEO SoWork; Dani Duck, Illustrator; Lindsay Maizel, Producer.

The conversation proved insightful in surfacing both the promises and perils that this rapidly evolving technology presents. I consider myself broadly optimistic regarding AI’s applications, seeing its potential to augment human ingenuity and productivity rather than replace it. However, other panelists offered perspectives that gave me pause and highlighted important nuances to consider.

As an artist and technologist with a passion for innovation, I’m fascinated by the rise of AI and its impacts on creativity. So when I was invited to join a panel discussion on AI’s role in the arts, I jumped at the chance. It proved to be an insightful dialogue on both the promise and perils of this rapidly evolving technology.

RiP! A Remix Manifesto , Brett Gaylor, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

I entered the discussion as an optimist, seeing AI as an opportunity to augment human creativity. My photography business already uses AI tools to enhance productivity. By training models on my previous work, I can employ AI to streamline tasks like keywording images or generating blog post drafts. This frees me up to focus more deeply on the parts of my work that rely on human ingenuity.

“Infinity Bridge” character sketches – Kris Krüg, 2023.

However, other panelists raised important concerns. Several worried that AI art lacks a human “soul”, pointing to the value of physical artistic labor and skills developed over time. I agree emotional engagement is a core component of art, but believe AI can also move us if infused with human context.

The “black box” nature of AI systems also poses risks. We often don’t understand how AI makes creative choices or draws connections. This could allow bias to sneak into art unwittingly. Content provenance was another issue – can AI art properly credit sources? Adobe’s work on adding “ingredient labels” to AI content offers one potential solution.

Overall, the diversity of opinions reflected the nuanced reality of AI. While promising, it also threatens artistic integrity in some ways. I believe regulation will be critical to ensuring creators maintain control over their work. The law must evolve to protect intellectual property in an AI age.

"Infinity Bridge" character sketches - Kris Krüg, 2023.
“Infinity Bridge” character sketches – Kris Krüg, 2023.

One point of consensus was AI’s democratizing power. It offers more people access to creative tools previously out of reach. This represents new voices entering the cultural conversation. However, some worried mass AI-produced content could flood the market, making human art seem valueless by comparison.

From my vantage point, the wisest way forward is to embrace AI with cautious optimism. With an open yet critical perspective, we can craft frameworks that minimize risks and usher in positive change. AI will then empower human creativity rather than oppose it. Just as the camera didn’t replace painting, AI can enhance artistry rather than rending it obsolete.

"Infinity Bridge" character sketches - Kris Krüg, 2023.
“Infinity Bridge” character sketches – Kris Krüg, 2023.

The path ahead will require flexibility, nuanced thinking and continuous dialogue between all stakeholders. Communities like the Vancouver AI meetup I recently helped launch will be vital environments for this discussion. Events that convene both technologists and artists enable sharing diverse perspectives.

I’m leaving this panel more convinced than ever that cross-disciplinary collaboration is key to developing ethical, socially conscious AI. With an interdisciplinary approach combining tech expertise, artistic ingenuity and humanitarian wisdom, we can shape AI into a creative partner rather than adversary. Our collective future depends on it.

"Infinity Bridge" character sketches - Kris Krüg, 2023.
“Infinity Bridge” character sketches – Kris Krüg, 2023.

Here’s some key takeaways from the panel transcript:

  • An artist shared their experience of learning to draw from Disney books as a child, and how their style is still sometimes seen as “Disney-esque”. This prompted a debate around whether that constitutes “stealing” Disney’s style.
  • One panelist voiced concern that AI trained on existing biased or stereotypical works could perpetuate those stereotypes as the technology progresses.
  • A medical doctor on the panel argued that AI has enabled new diagnostic tests by analyzing millions of images no human could examine, finding patterns to develop new insights.
  • One participant runs a company developing the “world’s first generative AI virtual workplaces” and discussed pros/cons of early AI systems like ChatGPT that scraped data without consent.
  • Adobe’s plans for “content provenance labels” drew interest as a way to provide transparency into an artwork’s constituent sources and origins created with AI.
  • A filmmaker recommended the documentary “RiP! A Remix Manifesto” which animatedly illustrates history of sampling and how new genres can emerge from old works in lawful ways.
  • Flexibility, curiosity and understanding how AI impacts one’s work/identity were identified as valuable future skills to develop alongside this rapidly changing technology.
  • The value of IRL meetups like the newly formed “Vancouver AI Community” for facilitating balanced, solutions-oriented discussion between diverse stakeholders was emphasized.
  • Ambiguities around concepts like “creation,” regulating derivative works, and properly crediting AI contributions emerged as complex challenges requiring ongoing multidisciplinary cooperation.