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Ideas are king in the land of AI video creation

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Photo: Avinash Kumar

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by Ben Woods

Those with doubts about the impact of AI on video creation should watch Air Head. The surrealist short film about a man with a balloon for a head was pieced together using OpenAI’s Sora, the text-to-video tool that is fuelling fear and curiosity across Hollywood. Created by Toronto-based producers Shy Kids, Air Head is funny, thought-provoking, and carries a visual aesthetic akin to an independent film. And yet, there was no film crew to organise or film star to direct. Air Head provides a glimpse into what trained moviemakers might do with generative AI. In doing so, it demonstrates how AI tools will shorten the journey from ideas to output. By streamlining the process, tools like Sora are creating a playing field where the quality of an idea may become the only barrier to success.

Movie-making experience matters – for now

So how will this play out in the market? The rise of Sora does not mean anyone using text-to-video AI will be able to create Air Head – at least for now. A director’s eye and an awareness of the movie-making process will still be needed to get the best results from generative AI. After all, text-to-video AI tools are straightforward: no matter what you put in the result will there always be text-to-video AI elements. However, the output quality of those elements is highly dependant on the quality of the prompt given to the tool. Therefore, knowing what a high-quality text-to-video AI element looks and sounds like before you input your instructions gives you distinct advantage over someone who does not. Patrick Cederberg, creative director of Shy Kids, told The Hollywood Reporter that it took multiple requests across different shots to achieve a movie-grade output from Sora. Only a person with a film-making background would know how to tweak and push the tool to achieve high-quality results. The average person would not have the same frame of reference.

However, this will change over time as the AI engine gains more experience. The more inputs given to the machine, the more likely the AI tool will be able to help even the average user create a result that looks and feels like a high-quality film. In the short term, expect the tool to help smaller filmmakers realise ideas that were previously out of reach because of budget constraints. This will help narrow the quality gap between smaller and larger studios, with the latter using AI to drive efficiencies in the production process.

A new breed of social video creator

When it comes to social video creators, expect a similar dynamic to take hold. Micro creators will no longer be disadvantaged by their lack of expensive production equipment compared to superstar creators. By and large, content creator videos are less complex than movies, meaning tools like Sora have a higher likelihood of reaching the desired output in fewer prompts. This heightens the chances of even a complete novice becoming an overnight social video success. This will cause a new breed of video creator to emerge, driven by ideas but lacking in production talent. With text-to-video at their disposal, they will be able to produce viral content without even needing to use the camera on their smartphone.

By lowering the barrier to entry in this way, the total addressable market (TAM) for video creation will expand because consumers with no video production skills – or even a willingness to learn – will be given a chance to create. The question is how the industry will adapt to monetise these creators. Increasing the TAM will mean a fresh revenue stream. However, the worry will be that pre-existing video creators will reduce their spend on equipment and software because tools like Sora will help them achieve on par results at a fraction of the price. Companies impacted in this way will have no choice but to pivot if they want to remain relevant in a video creation world where ideas -not production - are brought to the fore.  

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