Has animation changed forever?

Exploring the use of innovative tools and techniques within the world of animation.

Over recent months it has been almost impossible to ignore the rapid growth and adoption of AI based technology.

Tools such as ChatGPT have fast become household names but, with the technology being rolled into Microsoft’s 365 Office suite and Bing search engine, and with similar products on the way from Google, it is clear that these tools are set to have a profound impact upon people’s lives in the years ahead.

Whilst ChatGPT generates a text based output, tools such as Dall.E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion both use AI to generate images from a text input. The quality of the images produced and the ability of these tools to emulate the style of individual artists has, understandably, been having a massive impact in the world of digital art and illustration.

There are legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of tools which have been “trained” upon the artwork of others without consent, and obvious concerns about the impact that AI will have upon people’s livelihoods. These are important issues which I’ll discuss more in the future, but I first wanted to highlight how these tools are already crossing over into animation.

Applying AI tools to the creation of animation

Obviously, when a tool comes along which is capable of generating high quality images from a text based input, it wasn’t going to be long before someone took notice and attempted to apply this to animation.

Anime Rock, Paper, Scissors” is an impressive project by Corridor which made use of AI tools to create an Anime style short film.

They also have a really interesting behind the scenes video, “Did We Just Change Animation Forever?”, which breaks down their process.

What’s important to note, when watching the behind the scenes video, is that this film isn’t simply the result of asking an AI tool to generate an animated film. Instead, the film is the result of a team of artists working together for two months whilst using AI as a tool to help tell their story.

They filmed everything in live action first and essentially used AI to rotoscope (trace over) the individual frames using a provided art style. Even then, a great deal of problem solving was required to create a consistent end result.

A glimpse into the future

So, did they just change animation forever?

Rotoscoped animation is far from new and many films have been made by drawing over live action footage. The difference here is that AI is being used to remove the labour intensive, hand drawn, part of the process.

The result may not be perfect, but it is certainly impressive and clearly captures the anime style that the creators were aiming for.

Whilst they may not have changed animation forever, the project certainly offers a fascinating glimpse at how these tools may be used more widely in the future.


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