Generative AI Video vs CG Animation

Is video created via generative AI going to kill off CG animation (like Pixar movies)? I don’t think so.

I do think generative AI is going to continue to get better. There is already some amazing products on the market like Wonder Studio from Wonder Dynamics. Record a human actor, then replace them with a 3D model (of a robot, alien, etc). It uses AI to track the human’s movements, then AI to remove the character from the video, then superimposes a 3D model character back on the top (with appropriate lighting from the original shot). Pretty amazing technology!

There are also platforms like Synthesia and D-ID that can do talking heads, as well as technology projects like Mediapipe (face tracking via a camera from Google) and Audio2Face (audio to facial movements from NVIDIA).

These products all use AI, but they are not generative AI like Midjourney, DALL-E2, or Stable Diffusion. Originally AI videos took a series of poses and then generated artwork for each. There was an almost mesmerizing look to a series of similar but not identical images

But they have been getting better. Here is a Google Imagen text to video result.

While generative AI for video creation is clearly getting better, I do not believe it will get to the same level of quality as a 3D model with the latest ray tracing techniques. Getting reflections on metal, or refractions through glass, is very hard to get right. And our eyes are pretty good at spotting things when they are “off”.

So while generative AI for video creation will be a thing, I personally don’t think it will kill off more traditional 3D modeling and animation. Instead, I see AI helping, with tasks such as 3D model creation and animation. Just like Photoshop is already boosted with AI powered automatic object selection, I think AI will be used to further simplify 3D modeling and animation tasks. For example, Cascadeur (recent Product Hunt winner!) uses AI to make animation more realistic, reducing the effort required to create higher quality animation clips from simple hand and foot movements.

But there is a lot going on in this space. I am expecting some impressive reductions in effort required to do computer animated this year no matter which way things turn.

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