A Brief Review on the Status of Artificial Intelligence in Cinema

Author: Viraj Mahna
Mentor: Christopher Chan Roberson
Malvern College


Aspects of film making which involve Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been explored. Specifically, various roles of AI in different stages of film making have been discussed and potential applications of AI are identified.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Science Fiction, AI in Cinema, AI in Films 

 I. Introduction

In the recent past, emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an academic subject has gained immense popularity and attention due to its state of the art applications not only in various technical systems but also in other various fields which concerns human learning (Kortemeyer, 2023 ; Groza & Marginean,2023). The application of Computer Graphics in the world of cinema is not historically very uncommon nowadays but a vast theoretical exploration and review of influence of AI in the subject of cinema is far from complete. In the dynamic realm of cinema, technological progress has continually reshaped storytelling, visuals, and audience engagement. From silent films to the era of CGI (Computer-generated imagery), the industry has embraced innovation. The latest entrant is of course AI, rapidly restructuring filmmaking with both opportunities and challenges. AI’s evolution offers new possibilities in narrative structures and visual effects, but it also raises ethical concerns and challenges traditional roles in filmmaking. Balancing AI capabilities with human creativity is crucial for navigating this transformative landscape, as the industry pioneers a future where innovation and storytelling converge in unprecedented ways. This short article focuses on the current and future relevance of AI in filmmaking. Examining AI’s impact across pre-

production, production, and post-production phases, the paper highlights its role in enhancing visual effects, animation, and automating tasks like colour grading. Looking ahead, this review work explores emerging trends, including AI in virtual and augmented reality experiences, while addressing ethical considerations. By offering insights into the transformative role of AI in the cinematic landscape, this paper aims to contribute to the ongoing discourse in both industry and academia.

II. History of AI

Few works (Harmann, 2023. Rockwell,2017) have presented basic historical emergence and development of AI in the field of entertainment and others. AI made its first appearance in the imaginative landscapes of science fiction, notably in works like the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ where the character Tinman hinted at parallels with artificial intelligence. The narrative thread of science fiction and cinema unfolded with depictions of increasingly sophisticated machines and futuristic technologies, setting the stage for the real-world exploration of artificial intelligence. By the 1950s, there existed a conceptual understanding of what 

AI could potentially achieve. However, the scientific community, including mathematicians and philosophers, held somewhat  unrealistic ideas about its practical implementation. It was during this time that Alan Turing, a prominent mathematician, dedicated himself to exploring the possibilities of AI. Turing’s thought process revolved around a fundamental question: if humans could solve problems and make decisions, why couldn’t machines do the same? This line of reasoning became the cornerstone of Turing’s 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” In this influential work, he not only laid out a logical framework for constructing intelligent machines but also proposed methodologies for testing their capabilities. Turing’s vision was ambitious, but he faced formidable challenges in translating it into reality. A significant obstacle was the limitations of computers during that era. While they could execute commands, they could not store them—an essential feature for the success of AI. 

III. Evolution of AI and its relevance in the 21st century

Today, the omnipresence of AI has woven itself intricately into every aspect of human life, transforming the way we live, work, and interact. Its influence extends far beyond the realms of technology and has become an integral part of various industries, reshaping the landscape of our daily experiences. In the realm of healthcare, AI has emerged as a powerful tool for diagnosis, treatment, and personalized medicine. Machine learning algorithms can analyze vast amounts of 

medical data, aiding in early disease detection and offering tailored treatment plans. Additionally, AI-driven robotic surgery has enhanced precision and efficiency in the operating room. In education, AI is revolutionizing the learning process through adaptive learning platforms and intelligent tutoring systems. These technologies cater to individual student needs, providing personalized  learning experiences and addressing specific challenges. Furthermore, AI is playing a pivotal role in automating administrative tasks, allowing educators to focus more on teaching. In the business world, AI is a driving force behind data analysis, providing valuable insights for decision-making and strategic planning. Chatbots powered by natural language processing have become commonplace in customer service, enhancing efficiency and responsiveness. Moreover, AI is instrumental in automating routine tasks, freeing up human resources for more complex and creative endeavours. Work (Araujo et al.2020)  has also been done to explore the extent to which personal characteristics can be linked to the perceptions of automated decision making by AI and the extent to which these perceptions differ across media, public health and judicial systems . 

In the realm of entertainment, recommendation algorithms powered by AI analyze user preferences to curate personalized content on streaming platforms. Virtual reality experiences and AI-generated content are pushing the boundaries of creativity, offering audiences new and immersive forms of entertainment. In the world of filmmaking, the integration of AI is reshaping the landscape of visual effects and animation in filmmaking. Filmmakers now leverage AI to create breathtaking, lifelike visuals and intricate CGI scenes with increased efficiency. AI algorithms can generate realistic characters, elevate special effects, and streamline labour-intensive tasks such as rotoscoping and motion tracking. Despite these remarkable advancements, the widespread integration of AI has raised ethical considerations. Concerns about privacy, bias in algorithms, and the potential impact on employment are topics that demand careful consideration as we navigate this era of technological transformation. Striking a balance between harnessing the benefits of AI and addressing its challenges is crucial for responsible and sustainable integration into our lives.

IV.   AI in film making

Zhu and Zhang (2022) have discussed arts and technology in films which are based on AI. In films , which are based on potential application of AI, system characters usually appear as machines, or as scenes for stories to take place in, which are invisible in the narrative, such as MOSS in The Wandering Earth, the Matrix in The Matrix, the robot Mother in I Am Mother and so on. These characters are not in a tangible form, but exist to build a worldview for the film, so that AI technology pervades in the story as a force against human beings or humanity. AI has significantly impacted various aspects of filmmaking, revolutionizing the industry in terms of efficiency, creativity, and audience engagement. Some movies where AI has played an important role are as follows:

  1. Blade Runner (1982): Directed by Ridley Scott, this classic sci-fi film explores the theme of AI and the quest for humanity in a dystopian future.
  2. Ex Machina (2014): Directed by Alex Garland, this film delves into the creation of a highly advanced humanoid AI and the ethical questions surrounding its existence.
  3. Her (2013): Directed by Spike Jonze, “Her” explores the emotional connection between a man and an AI operating system with a highly advanced and evolving consciousness.
  4. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001): Directed by Steven Spielberg, this film follows the journey of a highly advanced humanoid robot seeking to become “real.”
  5. I, Robot (2004): Loosely based on Isaac Asimov’s works, this film directed by Alex Proyas examines the relationship between humans and AI robots.
  6. The Matrix (1999): Directed by the Wachowskis, “The Matrix” explores a dystopian future where AI has enslaved humanity, trapping them in a simulated reality.
  7. Transcendence (2014): Directed by Wally Pfister, this film delves into the concept of uploading human consciousness into a superintelligent AI system.
  8. Ghost in the Shell (1995): An animated film directed by Mamoru Oshii, “Ghost in the Shell” explores a world where humans can augment themselves with cybernetic enhancements, blurring the lines between humanity and AI.
  9. Chappie (2015): Directed by Neill Blomkamp, this film tells the story of a police robot with evolving AI and consciousness.
  10. Eva (2011): Directed by Kike Maíllo, this Spanish science fiction film explores the relationship between a robotics engineer and a highly advanced humanoid robot.

V. Aspects of the film making role of AI

Writing scripts

The most essential part of a film is a script based on which the film is made. The script is helpful to all parts of a film team. Actors use scripts to learn their dialogues, remember certain cues such as entry and exit points and also use scripts to understand the story, plot, themes and emotions of the film. For directors, the script proves helpful in assisting and executing his or her vision of the play. Furthermore, for the technical side of production, a script can have notes and reminders for things such as background music, lighting,  sound effects etc. AI can come into play by generating algorithms to write scripts through prompts such as themes, plot lines, and character descriptions, and using data to make scripts based on movies that have done well in the past. Although AI might not be able to match the creativity levels of humans, it can certainly assist humans in writing scripts. 

Assisting with pre-production

Pre-production is a critical phase in filmmaking, where extensive groundwork occurs before filming begins. This stage involves tasks such as identifying sets and suitable locations, preparing costumes, arranging lighting and sound setups, coordinating schedules to find convenient dates for all involved, and meticulous budget planning. It lays the foundation for a smooth and well-executed filming process by addressing logistical, creative, and financial aspects of the production. Artificial intelligence has the potential to simplify these responsibilities through the use of specialized programs. For instance, it can identify cost-effective and suitable filming locations, analyze budget requirements and estimate box office returns, synchronize dates, create schedules, and allocate sources for acquiring lighting, sound, and costume resources. Additionally, AI tools can contribute to the design process for sets, costumes, and music.

Predicting the success of a film

Predicting the success of a film is always based on statistics. It takes into account past hits of the director, cast of the movie, fans of the cast, genre of the movie and how that genre performs. AI can be a helpful tool as one of its many strong suits is statistics. It can make predictions but similar to writing scripts, AI cannot emulate human emotion and what a human can like or dislike. 

Selecting actors

Selecting actors for a film is crucial, involving considerations like chemistry, cost, star power, suitability, experience, and audience appeal. AI aids in casting by using algorithms to find suitable candidates, but it can’t assess audition clips due to its inability to replicate human preferences. However, AI excels in selecting extras, offering cost-effective solutions by editing faces seamlessly for background roles.

Promoting movies

Film studios have been using AI for effective advertising and promotion. Analyzing different factors such as audience base, and actors’ popularity across the globe, film studios may plan their campaigns according to certain locations where they expect the highest interest from the audience. For example, 20th Century Fox has developed the Merlin Video neural network to predict the success of promotional videos. The film studio has also used IBM’s supercomputer for making the advertising clip for the movie Morgan.

Editing movies

Movie editors can leverage Artificial Intelligence to create trailers for films. AI systems can identify high-action and emotional movie scenes and bring them out to help editors make enticing trailers. A real-life example of AI in movie editing is the IBM Watson program that was used to create a trailer for the science fiction film “Morgan”. AI can also be great for editing full-length movies. The AI algorithm uses facial recognition to determine the main characters and scenes involving the primary plotline and can assist the editors in the process of editing full-length feature movies.

Creating music

AI-based music composition tools are becoming a reality, and at some points, they may also be used to create music compositions for films. Using reinforcement learning, AI can analyze data from different compositions and develop music patterns that adapt to the movie environment, depending  on the movie genre and the situations expected in the movie. Many tech companies take up Artificial Intelligence technologies to develop systems that can learn various music styles from a large database of songs and create new music. For example, the Japanese tech giant Sony used an AI program called Flow Machines to create an AI song in the style of the Beatles. Though there is still a little bit of scepticism going around AI-generated music, at least AI can support humans in creating original compositions, some pieces of which may be used in different movie scenarios.

Producing movies

Finally, AI also makes its own movies. Benjamin AI created the science fiction movie “Zone Out” in just 48 hours in collaboration with Ross Goodwin. Though the movie did not win any awards, it’s still an impressive and challenging experience and a stepforward into automating video creation with the intelligent use of AI technology. With so many innovative applications across moviemaking, AI brings a multitude of benefits to the film industry, including improving the overall filmmaking process, saving time and resources, and generating higher revenues.

VI. Future direction

AI can be used to make movies about the future and the past. AI’s vast array of algorithms can predict how things might be in the future and create images of how things were in the past. Fiction can one of the chief genres as we can make our imaginations come to life on the screen with the powerful capabilities of AI. In addition, considering the increasing global conflicts, our focus as  directors would be on creating films that promote peace and stability, especially in war-affected areas. Films have the power to reflect and impact society, serving as a tool to resolve conflicts and bring people together. AI’s potential to analyze arguments and shape opinions on a large scale can contribute significantly to spreading messages of peace and unity through the medium of cinema. Challenges and other aspects of AI on peace making process has also been discussed by Harbinger(2020) and Gavin ( 2024). Global organisations such as the Red Cross, the World Bank and the UN are using AI to tackle humanitarian disasters. An example is the UN’s partnership with AI companies, like Remesh, to engage populations in conflict zones through large-scale digital dialogues. AI cluster responses identify priorities and highlight common ground. Research also explores AI’s role in predicting political instability, war crimes, and mass atrocities by analysing online patterns. This tool could facilitate societies’ transition from negative to positive peace. World is intrigued by the idea of creating films that depict the consequences of giving consciousness to machines. A detailed, critical exploration is necessary to see how the world reacts to this breakthrough and how it transforms the course of our world. These are specialized research facilities focusing on creating computer architectures that mimic the human brain’s neural networks. By replicating the brain’s structure and functions, researchers aim to potentially emulate consciousness. Advanced AI Research Institutes  dedicated to pushing the frontiers of AI might delve into the possibilities of consciousness in machines. By combining various disciplines like cognitive science, computer science, and philosophy, they aim to develop AI systems that exhibit complex behaviours resembling consciousness. Bringing consciousness to machines involves not just technological advancements but also raises ethical and philosophical questions about the nature of consciousness itself, which makes it an intriguing yet highly challenging endeavour.  We would want to portray this potential future on screen, bringing to life the possibilities that arise when machines gain consciousness. We should seek to engage audiences in a thought-provoking journey into the realms of AI and its profound influence on our shared future.

VII. Conclusion

In conclusion, AI’s integration into filmmaking promises transformative advancements, streamlining processes from pre-production to casting. Its capacity for generating innovative content and enhancing creative boundaries positions AI as a potent tool for filmmakers, particularly in the realm of fiction. As the cinematic landscape evolves, leveraging AI stands to enrich storytelling and redefine the film industry.  Looking ahead, this collaboration of AI and filmmakers is not just about entertainment. It is about how tech can shape our stories and show the changes in our world. It is like a big canvas where creativity has no limits. 


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About the author

Viraj Mahna

Viraj is currently a Grade 11 student at Malvern College. He is curious and passionate about theatre, film, and business. With experience in theatre, he enjoys directing stage productions, collaborating on film projects, and immersing himself in the latest cinematic releases. Viraj believe in the power of storytelling through film and visual arts.