Lights, camera, action: How AI is transforming the filmmaking landscape

From scriptwriting to post-production, explore how AI enhances creativity, and storytelling in the filmmaking process.
Tejasri Gururaj
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AI is already being used in more filmmaking processes than you may think.


  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing many industries, and the filmmaking industry is no exception.
  • The transformative impact of AI on filmmaking has ushered in a new era of creativity, efficiency, and immersive storytelling.
  • What does the future hold for AI in filmmaking?

From pre-production to post-production, AI technologies are being used to enhance the filmmaking experience. They can analyze large amounts of data to give meaningful insights or create beautiful and mesmerizing graphics that transport us to different worlds. The possibilities are truly endless.

All this saves filmmakers production costs, time, and resources that can be utilized elsewhere. Looking to the future, AI continues to hold promise for more sophisticated and creative applications.

So, here we look at the current scope of AI technologies for the film industry, the ethical considerations surrounding their use, as well as what the future holds.

Uses in scriptwriting

In 2016, an experimental short science fiction film called Sunspring was released. The film, directed by Oscar Sharp, was written by an AI program called Benjamin, which had been developed by Sharp in collaboration with AI researcher Ross Goodwin. 

The AI model used was a long short-term memory (LSTM) recurrent neural network, a type of AI that is often used for text recognition. Benjamin was trained on a dataset of science fiction screenplays.

Sunspring marked an early attempt to showcase the creative potential of AI in scriptwriting, although the film script produced was surreal and incoherent.

Since then, various AI tools have been created specifically for producing film screenplays, such as Shortly Read, which was used to create the script for the 2020 short film Solicitors.

AI algorithms can generate scripts, storylines, and plot suggestions based on data and patterns derived from existing films and literary works. By analyzing character arcs, dialogue structures, and narrative tropes, AI may be able to provide fresh perspectives and inspire filmmakers with innovative ideas.

Despite progress, a full-length feature film written by AI is yet to be seen. The use of AI for scriptwriting is also not without its issues. The current Hollywood writers' and actors strike is partly about the use of AI in scriptwriting.

While some argue that AI will be a democratising force in film, allowing film creation on a lower budget, others fear that studio executives will simply replace unionized artists with cheap AI, resulting in bland, mediocre, and pointless films. However, there are other ways that AI could help filmmakers, without costing jobs.

Before shooting begins

Before a film is shot, a lot of effort goes into pre-production, with tasks like storyboarding, casting, location scouting, and budgeting. AI has already become a valuable ally in streamlining this pre-production process. 

Since AI can analyze large amounts of data, it can be helpful for finding locations to shoot the film, figuring out which actors can best embody a character based on their previous performances, and for streamlining budget and scheduling processes. 

All of this could help producers make efficient decisions, saving precious time and resources. 

Lights, camera, action: How AI is transforming the filmmaking landscape
Scouting for locations is much easier thanks to AI.

Cinelytic is one company that is leveraging artificial intelligence AI and data analytics to provide solutions for the film industry. It was founded in 2017 and aims to assist film studios, production companies, and distributors in making data-driven decisions throughout the lifecycle of a film, from development to distribution.

The platform offers a number of different features and tools, including scenario modeling and financial forecasting. These capabilities provide valuable guidance and assist in mitigating the risks associated with film production and distribution.


AI can also help with tasks like camera automation for executing precise and complex camera movements, and scene optimizations for determining the best lighting conditions, composition, and camera angles.

AI can also be used to suggest adjustments which enhance visual aesthetics and ensure optimal shot composition. This helps cinematographers and directors capture visually stunning sequences while maximizing production efficiency.

Lights, camera, action: How AI is transforming the filmmaking landscape
Some aspects of camera work can be automated with the use of AI.

AXIBO is an example of a camera automation company. It uses a robotic system that offers features such as panning, tilting, camera sliding, and noise-free motion. The system can be controlled in various ways, including through voice commands. AXIBO also incorporates an integrated AI processing unit that enables learning, adaptation, and responsiveness.

The company was founded in 2019 by Anoop Gadhrri, Reiner Schmidt, and Sohaib Al-Emara, three undergraduate students from McMaster University, in Ontario, Canada. Early adopters of AXIBO reportedly include companies like Netflix and Apple.

Visual effects magic

The use of AI in filmmaking is perhaps most evident in the post-production process. The world of visual effects (VFX), computer-generated imagery (CGI), and film editing have seen a significant transformation with the help of AI and machine learning algorithms.

These technologies can help make films more realistic and immersive, elevating the overall cinematic experience.

ActionVFX via GIPHY

Just as CGI transformed the film industry more than five decades ago, beginning with films like Vertigo, and becoming more sophisticated with movies like Star Wars, AI is now transforming CGI in films like Avengers: Infinity War. The character of Thanos in the film was designed using machine learning algorithms.

VFX and CGI can use AI to create digital characters, change the age of the actors on screen without the use of makeup, and depict never-before-seen creatures like dinosaurs in films. 

Although, there are also many who feel that overuse of CGI has made movies more bland and less interesting.

In fact, generative AI is a powerful tool that has the potential to take over the film industry, as demonstrated by Metaphysic, whose deepfake of Tom Cruise went viral. In fact, Metaphysic recently announced a partnership with Creative Artists Agency, a major entertainment and sports talent agency, that could allow deep fakes of actors to be used in films, rather than the actual humans, while the actors retain the rights to their image and likeness.

Some have begun to denounce these type of developments, and members of the actors and media performers union Sag-Aftra are currently striking, in part because of issues around the use of AI.

However, no one can argue that, by creating stunning creatures and environments, AI-driven VFX tools and CGI don't provide new types of artistry. 

Take a look at Ziva Dynamics' AI-based simulation software, which allows VFX artists to design creatures that appear and move more accurately based on physics principles.

In addition to this, and somewhat less controversially, AI can also enhance post-production and editing workflows. Automated video editing, color grading, and sound mixing tools leverage AI capabilities to streamline the post-production process. 

These platforms can analyze and understand visual and auditory elements, making intelligent decisions about the pacing, composition, and overall aesthetic of a film.

By automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, AI-driven post-production tools accelerate the editing process, allowing filmmakers to focus more on creative decisions and storytelling. Additionally, AI algorithms can learn from existing film styles and preferences, assisting editors in achieving the desired cinematic look and feel.

One real-life example of this is the use of IBM's Watson program to create the trailer for the science fiction film Morgan.

Ethical considerations

As the use of AI in filmmaking grows, so do the ethical considerations surrounding it. While AI technologies offer numerous uses, such as script writing, automated editing, and VFX, it is essential to strike a balance between AI's capabilities and the preservation of human artistic expression and collaboration.

Lights, camera, action: How AI is transforming the filmmaking landscape
Is the use of AI in filmmaking ethical?

The most obvious concern is the displacement of human creatives by AI systems. As AI technology advances, it becomes increasingly capable of replacing human workers in tasks such as scriptwriting, editing, and camera handling.

This could potentially diminish not only the roles available, but also the creative process itself. Others argue that AI can be used to enhance creative collaboration and doesn't have to replace the human element in filmmaking.

AI could also be used to understand audience preferences and trends to create more relatable stories. However, this could also result in more "cookie-cutter" films which are all alike.

This raises questions about the value of human input and the potential loss of diverse perspectives and artistic vision in filmmaking.

Black writers and actors in particular are concerned that AI will be used to generate “diverse” content without actually employing any diverse artists, actually making diversity worse, and losing the authentic voice of diverse people.

This is why maintaining a human-centric approach in filmmaking is paramount. Establishing guidelines and frameworks to prioritize human involvement and maintain ethical standards is one way to approach this. This includes ensuring transparency about how AI is used in the filmmaking process, protecting intellectual property rights, and fostering a diverse culture that embraces inputs from both humans and AI technologies.

Lights, camera, action: How AI is transforming the filmmaking landscape
Will deepfakes make it impossible to know what, or who, is real?.

Another concern is the use of deepfakes to replace actors entirely, or to spread misinformation and propaganda.

Deepfakes can already be used to create fake celebrity endorsements or to manipulate political speeches. This technology can have far-reaching consequences, such as loss of trust, damage to the reputation of individuals, and the potential to influence public opinion negatively.

Even an ethical use of deepfakes could result in issues. If deepfakes of the most popular actors can be endlessly used in films, even once those actors are deceased, this means there will be less use for newer actors and fewer actors overall — again, potentially making films more bland and less diverse.

The future for filmmaking

Lights, camera, action: How AI is transforming the filmmaking landscape
Is the future AI filmmaking, human filmmaking, or a combination?

The impact of AI technology is affecting almost every single process in the film industry and will likely continue to do so in the coming years.

In addition to the areas mentioned here, a few other areas, like audience analysis and personalized filmmaking, are just now popping up on the horizon.

In fact, AI technologies are already being used in marketing and recommendation systems that analyze audience data and provide personalized experiences and recommendations, as on Netflix.

As AI algorithms continue to evolve and more data becomes available, personalized filmmaking will likely become more prevalent. This could result in people never being exposed to new and diverse types of art, because the algorithm failed to point them out.

Lights, camera, action: How AI is transforming the filmmaking landscape
Netflix uses AI to personalize recommendations.

Another area that has a lot of potential is the use of virtual actors and digital characters in films. As AI-powered CGI and VFX improve, we will likely see the creation of realistic and expressive virtual actors that can be seamlessly integrated into movies.

By leveraging AI technology, filmmakers and actors could have a lot more creative freedom to explore imaginative worlds and characters. Or, studios could simply use the technology to eliminate the use of expensive actors

The possibilities are endless, and it will be exciting to watch how the film industry use this new tool in the future.

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