By: Adam Hayes, Head of Creative Expression, Inizio Evoke
Much has already been written about the commercial application of artificial intelligence (AI) – some of it definitely written by AI itself - and people more informed than me are already debating what it might mean for those working in the creative industries and the world of work as a whole. However, if you’re interested in how creative teams are currently or planning to harness the power of AI as both creator and time saver, and while we’re all still in a job…here are three observations and predictions about AI and its evolving role in the creative process that have crossed the synapses of my human brain so far, a Head of Creative Expression at Evoke Mind+Matter:
Observation #1 – With immense power comes … the opportunity to have a bit of fun!
Flicking through the campaigns from this year’s Cannes Lions Awards, I couldn’t help but notice there were a fair few actively leaning into the fact that you can use the immense power of AI in rather contrived and frivolous ways …to great effect! Hunger Station’s ‘The Subconscious Order’ and Coca Cola’s ‘Magic Audios’ are just two such campaigns that use AI is a disarmingly frivolous and, as a result, charming way.
It’s nothing new to suggest us humans have an innate trepidation of AI (2001: A Space Odyssey and the Terminator films have a lot to answer for, Short Circuit less so …). But there’s a particular weariness within the creative industry itself about how overt we should be in letting our audience’s see ‘behind the curtain’of AI’s current and future role in the creative process. This is why I think using it in a knowingly overt way, as part of the fabric of a campaign itself, is a good creative strategy to soften an audience’s conscious and unconscious misgivings about its use whilst we all get comfortable with it. In short, good old-fashioned human values like honesty, transparency and good storytelling will continue to hold value in the pharma and life sciences creative process, regardless of how much of it has been augmented by AI.
Observation #2 – Ghosts in the machine
Much of the concern surrounding the predicted robotic uprising of AI within the creative industries has been directed towards AI’s potential as a creative tool – writing copy and creating visuals. But the other side of the coin for the commercial application of AI is the automation of less ‘creative’ parts of our work.
Over recent years, creative teams around the globe have faced ever-growing demands for their work to live across an ever-expanding range of channels. Having to repeatedly resize and reformat content for each channel’s specifications takes more time away from the ‘creative’ process itself. AI can automate this process, and businesses are already offering such services, taking a single key visual and using AI to reformat it into every conceivable aspect ratio and format.
This process still introduces inaccuracies and errors that need a human touch to correct, however. The same can be said for AI tools used for more creative tasks – there is often something a bit off in the tone of the copywriting, or something a bit warped, uncanny and strange in the visuals it produces. Again a fair bit of human intervention is required to fix this.
So, for AI to be confidently and universally adopted as both creator and timesaver, these ‘ghosts in the machine’ will need to be exorcised first, with man and machine continuing to learn from and about each other for the foreseeable.
Observation #3 – Hadouken! The power of creative combos.
Many video games have a ‘combos’-based points system, where high scores are achieved by chaining special moves together in as long and unbroken a sequence as possible. The same seems to be the case with AI. You can use different AI tools in powerful combinations that might not immediately occur to those new the game.
For example, writing the perfect text prompt to instruct Midjourney to create images that are close to what you have in your head is a skill in and of itself. Optimal prompts are often hundreds of characters long. The solution? Ask ChatGPT to write the Midjourney prompt for you!
Going forward, knowing how to get various AI tools to talk to each other will likely be a skill we need to develop to get the best out of them, without needing to become a ‘power user’ of any one individual AI tool.
Prediction #1: Fix it in pre!
Troubleshooting on a shoot or content creation day often prompts someone to say ‘don’t worry, we’ll fix it in post(production)!’. In the near future, AI tools may become so powerful the need to actually do a shoot or content creation day in the first place could become harder to justify. You’ll be able to create almost anything you could capture in real life from the comfort of your laptop, without a single travel expense submitted.
Therefore, if we do take the time and effort to create things in the real world, it will become essential (if it isn’t already) we make it clear that we have done so, by weaving the production method into the fabric of the creative itself, and/or squeezing every last drop of value out of behind-the-scenes opportunities.
Prediction #2: ‘Enhance 224 to 176’
AI tools already allow you to take small, low-res images and enhance them ‘x’ number of times to the point where they become a high-res print-ready asset to use in out-of-home placements and beyond! We may never get the hoverboard from Back to the Future, but the Esper photo analysis scene from Blade Runner is very much a reality in the here and now.
This aspect of AI will allow us as creatives to swipe and comp together a great range of previously unusably low-res visual reference online into more polished visual articulations of our ideas that are closer to what we have in our heads, and reduce the reliance on stock image and footage libraries – which are often overused by rival agencies, working in similar sectors and markets.
Prediction #3: Uncanny valley will be firmly in the rear-view mirror … next stop, insanity
The ‘uncanny valley effect’ – an eerie or unsettling feeling that some people experience in response to not-quite-human figures like humanoid robots and lifelike computer-generated characters – will shortly become a thing of the past (again … if it isn’t already).
When we can no longer distinguish between real and artificial representations of our fellow humans when consuming entertainment, news, or just connecting with others, it will be all the more important to create experiences and campaigns built on human truths. In fact, I further predict the well-worn marketing phrase ‘human truth’ will have be bit of a renaissance as a result of advancing AI. And the more, as I think about it, pertinent our platform-wide purpose – health more human™ – will become.