Fear and excitement. These are the only two words that perfectly sum up how people feel when thinking about the future of our world with Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI has already made a huge impact on many industries, and animation is no exception.
As you’d expect, the feelings towards AI are a bit divided: On one hand, some people are nervous about the long-term effects of AI on animation, especially the job security of those in this space. On the other hand, some aren’t as pessimistic and believe that AI can be the perfect assistant for creators and animation studios.
No matter what you believe, one thing is certain: AI is here, and it has changed animation forever. But, how? First, let’s see where it all began.
AI in Animation: The Roots
While AI has only made a splash in recent times, its origins in animation actually go far back to the 20th century. Besides the arrival of CGI, many brilliant minds such as Ivan Sutherland created the foundation of modern computer visuals and graphics. Before then, Animators used hand-drawn methods to make realistic figures and scenes, which meant that animations were often flat and simple. Few people were able to make true works of art.
Of course, there was no AI as you know it today, but that same trend led to major changes in the movie industry. The most notable example is probably Pixar’s “Genesis” technology which leveraged the power of Machine Learning (ML) to create 3D pictures. In time, the company went on to apply this system to animations like “Up” which showed a new level of realism.
But, none of those advancements can compare to the modern Generative AI, the AI that most people talk about. Here, The artist can make and change animation parts using AI, especially neural networks. Based on animation data that already exists, these programs can learn how to make new scenes, characters, and settings.
Now, let’s specifically discuss the role of AI in animation. Let’s start with the creative process.
AI & Animation: The Creative Process
Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way in recent years in many areas, and animation is surely a good example. AI has raised the bar for animation by analyzing and processing huge amounts of data, simplifying what many thought impossible. Here’s how AI has changed the creative landscape:
Efficiency Plus Creative Freedom
Before AI, creators had to deal with a lot of complex, repetitive tasks that wasted their time. AI has greatly solved this problem by taking over such tasks, allowing creators to manifest fine animation pictures in less time, without hurting the quality of their work. This is because animators are now free to focus more on building the characters and offering subtle human traits that make them more engaging and relatable.
A New Level of Realism
If you’ve recently watched a movie or dabbled in a video game, the level of realism and detail in characters and their surroundings has probably shocked you. This is in large part due to AI. AI programs can make moves, facial expressions, and natural lights that look and feel real by studying massive quantities of real-world data. This makes it harder to tell the difference between the real and the fake.
One thing that makes this possible is the impressive compatibility of AI with different animation styles. In other words, whether you favor classic approaches or modern 3D rendering, you can use AI to adjust the characters and the surrounding environment to your style.
It’s getting easier for AI programs to come up with new characters for animations. Because new technology has made so many new techniques possible, there are now more appealing characters that are unique to the story.
AI has the capability to create character animations on its own. By accurately imitating human motion, it raises the bar for realism in animated characters. It’s a practical alternative to manual approaches which require more time and materials.
The Story Setting
Artificial intelligence (AI) programs are getting better at making realistic backgrounds for cartoon movies. This has made animation worlds more realistic and beautiful to look at. Besides improving the quality, AI has made the whole process much faster and simpler.
The Script & Storyboard
It’s not just the visuals. With AI, you can refine your storyline by tweaking every single dialogue. The algorithms can improve animation scripting by monitoring the success patterns in previous productions and the dominant viewer feedback. Besides the script, you can consult with AI to suggest creative ideas or adjust the existing ones. Of course, AI still needs a lot of work in this area and the human creator is still in total control.
With AI, you can now create characters with a wider range of emotions and realistic facial expressions. Over time, facial animation has significantly improved, but after AI came to the scene, everyone could see a level of realism that wasn’t possible before. AI can make distinctions based on facial movements. It takes voice signals as input and generates animations of various adult faces. VR avatars, in-game clips, and other similar applications all utilize AI.
AI has shown significant potential in helping creators effortlessly capture dynamic objects and portray natural movements like surging waves or swaying branches. This has a dramatic impact on making the animation more engaging and believable for the viewer. By using AI, these features will act with startling realism and coherence, improving the animation as a whole and creating a more realistic atmosphere.
This is one of the most impressive effects of AI on animation. Using AI tools, you can come up with voices that nicely match the character and its tone. Besides voiceovers, this is quite helpful in dubbing or localizing animations and video games into different languages.
AI & Animation: The Cost
You may have already heard about the financial ramifications of AI in animation. But, regardless of what you’ve read, you need to know that the opinions are a bit divided over this matter. And, since the technology is still in the early stages, it’s not wise to give a definite answer.
On one hand, some believe that running AI algorithms for animation requires expensive hardware and software, which makes it a big challenge for widespread adoption. Besides the infrastructure, you need massive computing power for AI rendering, which can also cost you a lot.
On the other hand, some say that the traditional creative process takes a lot of resources and by handing over certain tedious tasks to AI, you can skip several stages and save time and money.
Over time, just like any piece of technology, AI should help animation studios and creators reduce their expenses while boosting quality.
AI & Human Beings: A Blessing or a Crisis?
So, you can see how AI could change animation forever by drastically changing the creative process. But, it’s not just about the product, but also the human creator. Many wonder, “How will AI change the future of animators? Will it be the end of employment for many people in this space?” Despite some valid concerns, the dominant narrative is that AI isn’t here to take the jobs away. Here are some reasons why:
There’s no substitute for the Human Touch
There’s no doubt over AI’s power to generate eye-catching animations, but it can’t weave an original, captivating storyline for a character whose unique traits are so relatable to the audience. AI simply builds something out of a gigantic dataset, meaning that there’s little space for originality. In most cases, it works best as a sidekick that takes care of repetitive tasks and recommends improvements.
Copyright and Ownership
AI and ownership is a hot topic in many sectors, not just animation. It might be hard to figure out who owns digital models and the finished products, which could lead to questions about IP rights. In fact, a lot of AI platforms say that anything made with their technology is the property of the people who created the platform.
The Quality is Not Perfect
You’ve surely seen some mind-blowing posts on social media about immaculate AI animations. However, the reality is less exciting because those are not solely the work of AI. The output of current AI tools is far from perfect.
At higher levels, they are either fuzzy, missing pieces, or just plain weird because they have low resolution. For now, it’s not possible to get a satisfactory result by picture editing with AI. As it turns out, the current AI output works best as a rough sketch for human artists to improve and create a masterpiece.
To animators, AI is more of a team player than a solo creator, which gives them access to unrealistic tools and technologies. The future is not still clear, but the most certain thing is that the AI-human partnership can lead to groundbreaking progress in animation.
AI & Animation: The Future
In the upcoming age of animation, both humans and AI will work together to break down barriers. Here are some things to anticipate as AI develops and becomes more complex:
A New Level of Creative Freedom
AI can sift through mountains of visual data in search of trends and patterns. For artists, this means fresh and thrilling prospects. They can try out novel approaches, discover new looks, and even mix different styles of art without any problems. New types of animation, beyond anything we can now conceive, will emerge when humans and AI work together.
Personalization is always a tough nut to crack in animation, but AI might just make this easier. With the help of AI algorithms, it’ll be possible to tailor animated material to each viewer’s tastes and interests. While this is quite far-fetched, the capacity to build a custom animated sequence would have a profound impact on the market.
Lowering the Entry Barrier
In the past, animators needed advanced training, high-end computers, and pricey software and gear. However, developing AI has the potential to make animation accessible to more people. AI tools can level the playing field for young animators and storytellers. Anyone with an imagination can now plunge into animation thanks to user-friendly interfaces and faster workflows, infusing the field with a wider range of opinions and viewpoints.
Many concerns around the future of AI are valid, but for now, it seems that AI can be a reliable solution for human animators, not an unsolvable problem. The cutting-edge AI capabilities allow creators to break new ground in artistic freedom, productivity, and realism.
Surely some technical aspects and roles will change as AI takes over, but the human touch, creativity, and the emotional bond will always be the number one priority in animation. So, for now, animation studios and creators should use any tools at their disposal to create a stunning picture.
To do this, they need a reliable partner with a proven track record that’s on top of the latest technologies available in the market. This is where we at Dream Farm Studios shine. We’re also a phone call away, so don’t hesitate to contact us.