Will AI make Hollywood production cheaper? Don't trust it.

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Before digital tools allowed composers to simulate any instrument on a laptop, musical scores for TV were simple tunes performed by a handful of session musicians. New technology meant that those musicians lost their jobs. So did the boy who copied the composer's scores.

However: this does not mean that scores require fewer people, or have become cheaper to produce.

Today, even the smallest TV shows employ full orchestras. Tech has made things easier, but the cost of creating scores for film and TV has only increased. More likely, more modern jobs replaced those that were lost.

That's the analogy Matt Nix used when describing the arrival of artificial intelligence at the LOT Summit on May 16 at Los Angeles Center Studios and the recent “True Lies” showcase. He rejects the idea that AI will become a path to lower-cost filmmaking and TV production with fewer people using it — no matter how much studios want it to happen. .

“In the Hollywood arms race, the studios are so excited about saving money and taking out a bunch of people, but I think what they're forgetting is that this has literally never worked in the history of mankind. ,” Nix said at a panel. IndieWire Editor-in-Chief Dana Harris Burdson. “Not once did a new technology come out and everyone said, 'We'll try not to do anything new just to save money.'

Nix offered another analogy: the machine gun. A machine gun can fire as many rounds as dozens — or even hundreds — of men carrying rifles. However, this did not mean that the army was replaced by the machine gun. This meant that armies now carried machine guns and wars were more expensive than ever.

AI, he believes, will enable Hollywood to do much more easily and quickly, but the industry will continue to invest in making the next thing bigger and better — just as FX-heavy superhero and fantasy shows have done. Production has become expensive.

He said that the arms race is on.

AI on the lotCourtesy of Chris Willard Communications

All metaphors aside, AI has the potential to eliminate jobs and disrupt Hollywood workflows. During last summer's WGA strike, writers demanded that AI-generated content not be handed over to a writer to completely replace the writing process; Striking actors fought for protection and compensation when using digital copies.

However, a keynote presentation by Renard Jenkins, president of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), pointed out that wholesale concerns are misplaced. Speaking to AI on the Lot attendees, he challenged studio executives to consider how much it would cost to integrate AI into a company or studio's existing infrastructure — and at scale. He created the idea that AI would make everyone and everything unreal.

“You're probably not going to release people into the wild,” Jenkins said. “You're going to learn how to retrain people, and then you're probably going to have to throw more money at them to keep them, because they're going to be in demand.”

He went a step further: It's not the bottom artists that AI will replace, he said, but CFOs and modern-day executives. Give Jenkins 10 years of financial performance data, and content production data, and he can quickly create an algorithm that will make Wall Street happier than a C-suite man with its predictions and decisions.

On the Renard Jenkins lot in AICourtesy of Chris Willard Communications

“Every part of the process will be affected, but don't think about it in terms of substitution,” he said. “Think about it incrementally, and in the currency of time.”

Mark Hoffman, executive producer of “Bill” and “The Umbrella Academy,” said there's a very “hushed tone” around writers and creators actually experimenting with AI. New labor contracts require both writers and studios to get permission before using AI, and require the studio to sign a form limiting liability. There are also inherent issues with title and copyright. As a result, Hoffman said, blanket policy among the studios has simply been “it's not allowed.”

Nix added, “Nobody in Hollywood writers' rooms would use AI because it's wrong and evil. [But] A lot of people are going to come back from the bathroom with great ideas.”

Hoffman believes AI will reinvent the process and the screenwriting process – not unlike the way talkies have written people's movies.

“If it's a marathon, the first mile and the last mile are the hardest,” he said. “First, you have to come up with an inspiration. What are you going to write? You can't just say to AI, 'Give me a movie.' It's really hard to get to the end. I already have something that's great, but I need something that's great and you're focused will still need people for that last mile.

It's true that AI is unbeatable when it comes to creating cost-effective scripts at speed, but Nix argues that's not really the problem. “It's always a paradigm that goes, 'AI is utter garbage that's going to take all our jobs,'” he said. “You have to choose one or the other. Guys, if crappy scripts were that valuable, we'd all be sitting on a gold mine.

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