What were they thinking?
Earlier this year, the Screen Actors Guild joined the Writers Guild of America on the picket lines, the first time both unions went on strike at the same time since 1960.
While the WGA has since come to an agreement with studios, SAG-AFTRA's strike is still ongoing — and the use of artificial intelligence in the industry has remained a huge point of contention, with actors calling for protections against studios using AI-generated versions of their voices or likenesses — and for good reason.
Take Disney, which has come under fire this week after a video resurfaced on social media showing horribly CGI-generated background actors in the movie "Prom Pact," a B-grade teen movie on the Disney Channel.
The clip, which first made its rounds on social media back in April, shows an audience seated on bleachers watching a high school basketball game. While the first row of players appears to be made up of human actors, the row behind them is almost entirely composed of awkwardly generated CGI ones — a dystopian glimpse at the future of film production.
Noticed it's a whole row of AI actors. Yikes!
Disney is insane and just more reason why the AMPTP needs to ditch this plan to replace background actors with AI. The uncanny valley will always make your show/film look like hot garbage and age like milk. pic.twitter.com/NpfNbx2X1T
— Christopher Marc Supports SAG-AFTRA (@_ChristopherM) October 12, 2023
Aged Like Milk
The clip reignited a heated debate surrounding the use of computer-generated imagery in film, and how the tech could eventually replace human actors, a major talking point during SAG-AFTRA's ongoing negotiations.
In a press conference immediately following the union's call for a strike in July, executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland revealed that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers proposed to have background performers scanned, "get paid for one day's pay, and their company should own that scan their image, their likeness and should be able to use it for the rest of eternity."
"Disney is insane and just more reason why the AMPTP needs to ditch this plan to replace background actors with AI," freelance writer Christopher Marc, who recently shared the "Prom Pact" clip, tweeted.
Marc also pointed out the bizarre, robotic movements of the CGI-generated actors' arms.
"The uncanny valley will always make your show/film look like hot garbage and age like milk," he added.
Plenty of questions remain. Was Disney, one of the largest media companies in the world, short-staffed that day of filming? Was the set plagued by budget constraints?
This week, SAG-AFTRA proposed a bill to lawmakers called the NO FAKES Act, "creating new and urgently needed protections for voice and likeness in the age of generative artificial intelligence."
The bill "prohibits the unauthorized use of digital replicas without the informed consent of the individuals being replicated."
But whether studios, let alone Congress, will agree to these terms remains to be seen.
Share This Article