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Cannes 2024 – Marché du Film

Industry Report: New Media

The role of AI in the film sector takes centre stage at Cannes Next

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CANNES 2024: A discussion on the tools and applications of AI in filmmaking, alongside the legal considerations surrounding its use, marked the opening of this year’s edition

The role of AI in the film sector takes centre stage at Cannes Next
A moment during the panel

The opening panel of Cannes Next 2024, focusing on “AI and the Film Sector: A Deep Dive into Creative/Business Opportunities and Legal Considerations”, led by Sten-Kristian Saluveer, head of Cannes Next at the Marché du Film, commenced with an overview of the event's programming highlights, primarily emphasising AI's role in the film industry. Sarah Nörenberg, chairwoman of the International Screen Institute, introduced her organisation's role in providing training courses to business professionals, with a particular emphasis on AI integration in filmmaking. This marks the third year of its offerings, with the body adapting each year based on market feedback and trends, and with a specific focus on incorporating AI elements into the courses.

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Caleb and Shelby Ward, co-founders of Curious Refuge, then took the stage to discuss the significance of AI-empowered skills in storytelling. They showcased their initiative, serving as a training hub for individuals looking to leverage AI creatively in their projects. The Wards emphasised the global reach and impact of their programme, highlighting success stories of students securing employment in various industries. They also outlined the shift in workflow dynamics brought about by AI integration, stressing its holistic nature and its ability to streamline processes across pre-production, production, post-production and marketing. They showcased examples of AI-generated films and highlighted the significance of iteration and creativity in leveraging AI's potential. They encouraged exploration and curiosity among filmmakers, promoting a culture of experimentation to unlock the full creative potential of AI in filmmaking pipelines.

Saluveer’s inquiry about the suitability of new AI tools and workflows for broadcast- or film-quality work prompted a response from Caleb Ward. He acknowledged the current limitations in output resolution for most AI tools but emphasised their significant role in pre-production and post-production tasks, such as refining dialogue and experimenting with ideas. Caleb expressed confidence in the imminent arrival of AI tools capable of producing screen-ready content by the end of the year, citing ongoing developments such as Sora as promising advancements in this direction.

Saluveer directed a question at Ben Lumsden, executive producer at Dimension Studio, regarding the integration of real-time tools into the life of an independent filmmaker. Lumsden shared insights into the growing influence of real-time technologies in independent filmmaking, citing Dimension Studio's recent announcement of its move into co-producing and co-financing independent films using such technologies. He discussed his extensive experience in virtual production, highlighting the intersection of digital and physical production processes facilitated by real-time tools, including AI-driven pre-visualisation and green-screen simulcam techniques.

Lumsden proceeded to showcase examples of virtual production projects utilising AI tools, demonstrating the versatility and creative potential of real-time rendering technologies. He presented samples of a film produced by Dimension Studio, showcasing the diverse applications of LED walls in creating immersive environments for storytelling, ranging from dramatic scenes to period pieces. Additionally, he illustrated the utilisation of volumetric capture technology, insisting on its accessibility and potential for enhancing storytelling capabilities, even for lower-budget productions.

Furthermore, Lumsden delved into the integration of AI into real-time rendering processes, particularly in optimising pixel rendering through deep learning super sampling. He highlighted the transformative impact of AI technologies in democratising high-budget storytelling by making advanced production tools more accessible to a broader range of creators. Lumsden underlined that while directors and producers need not become tech experts, an understanding of real-time production workflows can empower storytellers to leverage AI tools effectively, ultimately reshaping the landscape of filmmaking towards a more inclusive and innovative future.

Saluveer then turned to Charlotte Lund Thomsen, a lawyer specialising in IP legal and policy advice, in order to raise concerns about the legal implications surrounding the use of AI in filmmaking. Lund Thomsen acknowledged the complexities involved and zeroed in on the importance of understanding and navigating the legal landscape effectively. She outlined two primary types of AI: traditional AI, focusing on pattern recognition and problem-solving; and generative AI, for content creation. She stressed the need for consent and consultation when using AI in creative processes, particularly in ensuring compliance with moral rights and personality rights, which vary by jurisdiction.

Lund Thomsen provided practical insights and recommendations for filmmakers intending to incorporate AI into their workflows. She emphasised the significance of informed decision-making, seeking legal advice, and fostering collaboration among creative and business partners to establish clear agreements and documentations regarding data security, ownership and copyright issues. Lund Thomsen also underscored the necessity of respecting legal rules and regulations to avoid potential legal ramifications, and ensure a collaborative and compliant filmmaking process.

Furthermore, she spoke about the importance of recording the human component in the creative process, as current legal frameworks often require human involvement for copyright protection. She cautioned against infringing on personality rights, particularly in replicating famous voices without consent, and stressed the importance of respecting individuals' rights and privacy. Lund Thomsen encouraged filmmakers to conduct thorough research, engage in open communication, and adhere to legal guidelines to mitigate risks and foster a positive and collaborative filmmaking environment.

In terms of the future of AI in filmmaking, Lund Thomsen championed the need for a balanced approach, where filmmakers master technology while retaining creative control and autonomy. She expressed excitement about the democratising potential of AI in filmmaking, enabling smaller players to access advanced tools and resources. However, she cautioned against overreliance on algorithms for predictability, advocating for continued creativity and innovation in storytelling. Thomsen concluded by encouraging filmmakers to embrace AI while remaining vigilant and informed about the legal considerations so as to ensure a responsible and ethical use of the technology in filmmaking.

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