Will artificial intelligence (AI) take over the world of animation?


Modern technology has become an irreplaceable pillar in our society. With phones, tablets, and laptops always within an arm’s reach, it would be silly to not take advantage of such helpful tools. Technology is used in every aspect of modern life but the one field it has yet to take over is the arts. AI animation has become a popular stepping stone into the field due to the apprehension amongst other art forms. 

As technology advances more and more by the minute, we should not forget that with advancement also comes the potential to uplift and create. Technology is a tool, not a threat, so as long as we embrace the advancements, I believe we can use this technology as a shortcut to lead to more opportunity for artists and animators. 

That leads us to the question; Will Artificial Intelligence take over animation? As a career? No. As a tool? Absolutely. Let’s talk about it.

What is AI?

What comes to mind when I say, “artificial intelligence”?  You might be thinking of sophisticated robots or those text generated scripts that circulate twitter from time to time. And while those are certainly forms of AI, in reality this technology is much more present in our everyday lives. Every time you perform a simple google search, you’re interacting with AI. 

How about speech recognizing software such as Alexa or Siri? You’re having a conversation with AI. Every time you scroll through recommendations on Netflix, you’re looking through a custom panel created for you by AI animation. Even when you’re playing the ‘computer’ in a quick round of chess to kill time, you’re in a simulated game experience run by AI. It can literally be a part of nearly every moment.

So what is “AI” really?

AI or artificial intelligence is any machine that can demonstrate “cognitive” function that mimics the natural intelligence displayed by animals – humans included.

 Although it sounds like a product from science fiction fanfare of the 1950s, the idea of artificial intelligence has been around since ancient times. Ancient Greek mythology tells the story of Talos, a giant bronze human-like figure who protected Crete from possible invaders.  In 1818, Mary Shelley wrote a novel conceiving of creating life and intelligence through electricity, Frankenstein

The ethics of the topic have also been up for debate for just as long. The most popular argument has been that of an artificial overthrow. Where AI could potentially become so powerful that humans would not be able to stop it from achieving its goals. A scary enough thought to become the plot of dozens of hollywood horror films. It’s even created “Man vs Machine” as its own conflict category in literature. 

And our fears have also found themselves in our real world.  Many debate today the ethics of having AI in our homes, helping us perform basic tasks, and helping surveillance.

Artificial Intelligence in Art

Despite these ethical concerns, playing a fictional opponent is a good way to practice your end game. Similarly, asking Siri to set a timer serves as the perfect assistant. So why are people still so uncomfortable with the idea of AI in fields such as the arts? 

Fear of the unknown. From an early age, humans are taught to fear what’s different from us which is why we grew up learning phrases like “stranger danger.” When something as heartfelt and soul-filled as art gets threatened by cold soulless technology, it causes people to panic. Will robots replace artists? Will the already shrinking art fields become more sparse? If not for the artists, who will record the human condition? It can be a scary consideration for those that don’t trust that humans can work with the technology. 

Here’s the catch; fear is the roadblock of progress. Instead of seeing AI art as competition we need to see it as a teammate. AI animation refers to any work assisted by AI. Instead of being seen as a creation it’s more of a collaboration between man and machine. When speaking specifically about art created by AI, even that can’t be seen as original work.

The computers most often rely on machine learning, a specific type of AI that involves feeding computers countless examples of something until they learn the repeating patterns which results in them being able to create their own similar result. Hence, mimicked work.

Instead of seeing AI art as competition we need to see it as a teammate.

Avidor, Vidalgo

AI Animation brings a huge value to artists

To be truly original, one has to create, led by their own experiences. Without a heart behind it, I don’t believe that art created by AI can be considered true art. Art created by AI, although interesting in theory, relies too heavily on examples to be original.

It’s important to use this technology to our advantage. When it comes to AI animation,  it would be silly not to acknowledge the strengths and use them to streamline tedious, repetitive work loads. Most animation companies and studios have been using this technology and developing their own over the past decade.

Specific AI art software can be created to animate a character’s hair to such success that an audience can see individual realistic strands. A feat that would not be possible with production schedules being as strict as they are if it wasn’t for the help of AI animation.

Just take our own tools at Vidalgo.  By no means does Vidalgo take the creator out of the equation.  We simply give the creator the support of AI so they can scale effectively and focus most of their energy on the creation itself.

Final Thoughts

One thing certain about today’s climate is the uncertainty of tomorrow. It’s scary to watch the rapid acceleration of technology without knowing where it’s future is going. If we’ve learned anything about technological advancement, it’s that it can lead to massive job loss.

That leads us back to the main question at hand; Will AI take over animation? 

In my own opinion as a humble artist, I don’t believe it will. It’s an age old question, “Will our creations come to replace us?” I don’t think so. To be human is to live and create. All art comes from a place of personal experience or inspiration. A machine, no matter how hard it tries, can only mimic the original art we give it to study. Yes, art can be patterninistic and repetitive but again, something human inspired those patterns to be where they’re placed. 

There is nothing in the world that can replace the voice of a person with real emotions and lived experience. Each artist is unique and technology won’t be replacing that, only improving it.

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