"It's actually over."
Pretty much anytime entertainment and AI intersect is an internet controversy waiting to happen.
Case in point, Marvel's new TV miniseries called "Secret Invasion," a show about a shapeshifting race of "Skrulls" that are covertly taking over the planet.
Much like how the Skrulls impersonate real humans, this latest Marvel project has been caught impersonating human art, after the show's director bragged that its woozy-looking opening credits sequence, designed by Method Studios, was made using AI.
Undoubtedly, the revelation immediately raises the question of whether animators were snubbed as a result.
"When we reached out to the AI vendors, that was part of it — it just came right out of the shape-shifting, Skrull world identity, you know? Who did this? Who is this?" Ali Selim, who is also the show's executive producer, told Polygon on Wednesday, admitting that he didn't "really understand" how the technology works.
"We would talk to them about ideas and themes and words, and then the computer would go off and do something," he described. "And then we could change it a little bit by using words, and it would change."
The opening credits of ‘SECRET INVASION’ are made by A.I.
— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) June 21, 2023
Those with a keen enough eye probably didn't need the director's confirmation to suspect that the intro sequence was AI-generated. It's got all the obvious hallmarks: slow-mo animations replete with ambiguities and random distortions that only vaguely resemble faces.
But with Selim letting the cat out of the bag, social media became alight with fiery criticism — probably not the plaudits the show was hoping for on the date of its premiere.
"So Marvel really used AI to make the intro for ["Secret Invasion"]," one popular tweet lamented. "It's actually over."
Another tweet put forward a sobering demand to the showrunners: "Do better Marvel."
One critic bluntly described the intro as "green alien dogsh*t."
The use of AI has become a highly controversial topic, with many artists seeing it as a threat to their livelihoods. One of the many cited reasons for the ongoing Writers' Guild of America strike is studios reportedly refusing to adequately protect screenwriters against the use of AI.
Artists at large have long decried the trend, criticizing companies behind AI image generators like Stable Diffusion for training AI models on their art without being asked or fairly compensated.
The trend does not bode well for artists working under the Marvel ecosystem. Animators and VFX artists have already come forward about their brutal working conditions — and having studios resort to using AI in place of human-made animation only seems poised to further strain the situation.
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