‘AI-powered’ ad sparks creator controversy on Instagram

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Image credit: Wes Walker

A new Under Armor ad featuring boxer Anthony Joshua has come under fire from creators on Instagram after its director claimed it was the “first AI-powered sports commercial” — but Industry critics say it blatantly reused the work of others without credit. AI hype cycle of cash grabs.

Director Wes Walker posted the spot with several variations and riffs on Instagram earlier this week, saying: “Under Armor asked us to make a movie out of nothing but existing assets, a 3D model of Anthony Joshua and No athlete access. This piece combines advances in Ai video, Ai photo, 3D CGI, 2D VFX, motion graphics, 35mm film, digital video and Ai voiceover. Every current Ai tool is explored and maximized. carried forward. [I have left “AI” as “Ai” throughout.]

In itself, the ad is not objectionable. Live footage is interspersed with 3D models, landscapes, and abstract scenes, all rendered in contrasting monochrome.

Walker claimed it was all done in three weeks flat, which is short enough for a major brand and athlete, and said of the reliance on AI that “the key to the transformation of this industry is what we do.” Whatever we do, stay true to what we’re here to do again – tell powerful stories and uplift the human spirit with beautiful, provocative and interesting visuals… AI integrates into our workflow in ever-evolving ways. will be gone… but the heart and the mind that peeks behind the veil and the doors of perception… is still and will always be ours.”

“Our”, however, may be an overstatement. Although all of this is run of the mill self-promoting publam, as is often found in such titles, the director was quickly taken to task by other creators who pointed out that his Advertising largely repackaged the work of others – and much more difficult and valuable work at that.

The caption states that the 35mm was part of this “mixed media” production. What should probably have been said is that two years ago there was an entire production based on the existing but uncredited film directed by Gustav Johansson. “Good movie, but all the stuff with the athlete shot by Andrey Kementov and a commercial I did?” Johansson asked in a comment.

It looks really good! But no creator is initially credited in the caption, a professional courtesy that costs nothing and will more faithfully represent who originally created the images seen here.

Johansson, Chementoff, and others did not indicate in the comments that their work was used (this is inevitable in advertising) but that it was apparently simply redeployed as a cost-cutting measure and to acknowledge their contributions. was taken without doing.

In an apparently now-deleted comment, Walker says he requested access to Joshua, but “was denied multiple times. UA had limited time, limited budget, 3 weeks from concept to delivery… Timeline, budget, reach, and production realities are real and very limited concerns with this level of advertising.”

“UAs certainly do what they want with the footage but as a creative you start to slip that it’s AI when there are humans behind it? The AI ​​doesn’t really have anything to do with it, it’s It’s more about how you choose to label and promote your work. [is] Even more important when times are changing,” Johansen wrote in a conversation with Walker.

“The future is to train Ai to optimize your products, players, aesthetics + existing footage bases + train Ai to do more in less time,” Walker wrote. (After debating for some time, he relented and successfully requested that he and others be included in the post.)

In this context, creators around the industry have come out of the woodwork to dismiss what they see as another step on the road to AI not replacing what they do, but rather companies replacing what they do. are using to take advantage of While it is expected that commercial work will be somewhat misused and reused, he points out that there is a wide gap between shooting stock footage or everyday objects, and a unique therapeutic and creative point of view. Between being commissioned to make a film with a vision – but being treated as raw material by both brands.

Cinematographer Rob Webster wrote: “If times are changing, surely it is the responsibility of creators to resist changes that allow agencies and brands to steal work from colleagues without proper credit…. The use of this technology is inevitable but its application and the conversation around it is in our hands.

Video production firm Crowns and Owls: “If you’re someone who shoots for Shutterstock, you know you’re commissioning work with the ultimate goal of reusability/recyclability. A fundamental difference What if you did a commercial three years ago and then it’s put on a hard drive by a brand so they can pull it out whenever they “don’t have the time or budget” to be honest, almost always? Is and will be fast.

“Legality is legality – the corporate world will always thrive in a gray area, but there is a clear artistic ethical coding that has transcended here, and that marks a pivotal moment. Change is already underway.” As artists, now more than ever we must prove our worth and stay in dialogue.

Producer Alice Tyler asks: “When you watch the original, you start to understand why this conversation needed to happen in the first place. Why didn’t they re-commission the original director? A new director called it ‘direct.’ ‘ Why would most of the standard day fees be ungodly to do? They didn’t need the crew, they didn’t need the locations, they didn’t need the craft… Filmmakers have to stand together when we Cross this new AI landscape. Don’t blindly say ‘But this is the future!’ “

Director Ivan Vaccaro sums up what can be a last resort among creators: denial. “Say no to a client and agency is the most powerful creative and human tool we have. Something no artificial intelligence will ever achieve.”

While Walker and his production may be villains of the week, they’re hardly unique in their approach, and indeed Hearn can’t resist accepting a job with him that may or may not be ethical, but with Under Armour. To hurry quickly. Change to capitalize on the AI ​​frenzy. Perhaps they underestimated the passion of creators whose fixed analog and human-focused processes actually produce original and compelling content.

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