The media and entertainment industry has gone through major waves of disruption since the 1990s. First was the advent of the internet, which in the first decade of the 21st century enabled digital distribution of content, and in the second decade upended the distribution format from downloading to streaming, both live and on demand. The third wave is happening on this decade, thanks to AI.

The traditional business models of film and TV studios are under threat from the massive amount of content being produced and distributed across streaming and social media platforms. Industry revenues for major studios have decreased by double digit percentages in the last few years. New business models around streaming are emerging, but many have yet to show substantial profits, if at all. How will AI help the dust settle and how will it contribute to a new, viable media and entertainment economy?

Higher Efficiency and a Better Product

At the 2024 Hollywood Innovation and Transformation Summit and Entertainment Evolution Symposium held in Los Angeles last week, we heard loud and clear that answer to this question. Various speakers predicted that AI will enable new business processes and content production workflows that are faster and leaner. For example, Box’s
co-founder Aaron Levie, noted that thanks to AI, film assets can be indexed more accurately so production and post-production departments can spend less time searching for digital files and instead focusing on getting to the final product. The processes from contract to invoice will also achieve major gains.

On the other hand, productivity gains will also be seen on the creative side. A visual effects session led by VFX company ICVR showed how generative AI can help take line producers 70% of the way from script to pre-visualization, so what typically takes one week can be done in hours. Some of the AI assistance can also lead to a better product. For example, there was a demo of the Flawless AI TrueSync tool, which uses AI for dubbing into other languages and for dialogue change, with seamless conversion of mouth movement and facial gestures.

More Effective Decision Making

The gains in process efficiency will allow creatives to focus less on administrative and procedural tasks, which in turn will allow them to spend more time being creative. Kartik Hosanagar, John C. Hower professor at the Wharton School and founder of Jumpcut, an AI-powered script and IP management automation tool, referred to the different waves of disruption, where technology first brought us from an era of production work to information work, and now with AI, into an era where humans can focus on creativity, empathy, and leadership.

In addition, AI will also help make better greenlighting and production decisions. For example, in a session with The Ankler’s Elaine Low and Sean McNulty, there was a conversation about AI-enabled content strategy analytics that can support greenlighting decisions and the use of streaming data to make better and more inclusive casting decisions based on viewership analytics, as opposed to gut feel.

The Risks

There were plenty of examples at the conference about how AI will improve workflows in the creative process and how AI is bound to enhance the customers’ experience.

However, there were several warnings about three risks: First is the possibility of biased AI output due to biased or incomplete inputs. Second, misinformation can spread if there isn’t full transparency on what content is AI-generated or on the provenance of the training data. Third, intellectual property issues are emerging from the use of generative AI to create or assist in the creation of text, audio, and video. On the latter, the battle underway because Open AI used a voice very similar to Scarlett Johansson’s in the voice-enabled version of ChatGPT4 was mentioned several times.

The Charge

Overall, there was not a single vibe at the conference on the notion that the risks justify holding back on innovating with AI. Instead, the overall sentiment is that AI will enable the new media and entertainment economy of the next few decades, based on the demonstrations of current AI applications that are already enabling higher efficiency, better content, and better decision, and on the predictions about how AI innovations are bound to have a transformational impact on both business and creative workflows.

Fortunately, in the grand scheme of things, we are just at the beginning of a major transformation, but there was a general consensus that those who don’t try things out with AI now will stay behind.

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