And other adventures in AI “art.”

Bob Newhart in the world of Blade Runner
I want to see this movie.

Like everyone else working in content and media, I’ve been messing around with AI art and text. There are some thorny questions around automating human effort, and the ethics around how the machine was trained. Others have weighed in so I won’t here.

I was mostly staying away, but then a VXF supervisor friend convinced me to dig in a little more. He uses Midjourney to make quick look books and rough in tone/vibe to quickly align with the director . This makes a lot of sense to me. With the carefully considered prompts, you can get to fairly specific looks more quickly than you could searching for swipe and/or sketching (especially you’re me and you haven’t really been cultivating your drafting skills lately). 

Robot making dinner while the family looks on.
I want to see this movie too, but what’s up with her hands and the boy on the right’s body?

For pre-concept art tasks, I’m sold. Putting together quick comps to demonstrate how an idea might work visually or to get cross functional teams aligned? Yes. For finished work? Not so much.

West African men with crazy hair
A while back before AI tools were the bell of the ball, I was asked to treat a script involving a guy with crazy hair in a West African barbershop. This is way better than the clumsy Photoshopping I resorted to.

This is partly due to the aforementioned thorny issues, but mostly because I’m noticing AI generated art (at least, Midjourney) seems to all have a look. I can’t quite pin it down, because stylistically it can be all over the map from photorealistic, to illustrated, to aping specific artists, but every time AI art shows up in my various social feeds, I instantly “make” it as AI and it bugs me. 

It’s not just the freaky fingers that AI hasn’t worked out how to deal with. Maybe it’s an artifact of the algorithm. Or maybe it’s been trained with too small of a data set. (I have no idea how this actually works.) But there’s a subtle patina that seems to imbue everything. 

Lucille Ball in a space suit
Lucy and Desi having dinner in space. Randomly, people out the window look in.
Lucy and Desi in 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Again, WTF with the hands?)

Now, I’m too old to get away with being a young Turk blowing up the status quo, instead risking relegation to “old man shouts at cloud” status, so I’m conscious of needing to be open minded with emergent technologies, and I’m happy to have my mind changed. And in the meantime, I will be using it in supporting conceptual tasks instead of, or in addition to, image searching (and my aforementioned feeble sketching skills). 

The Beatles "Blue Submarine"
Get it?? It’s a “Blue Submarine!” Note pig faced man (Paul?) in lower right.
Another robot kitchen
Not sure that’s the best spot for the baby or mom (grandmother?), but maybe I’m old fashioned.

#midjourney #AI