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  • Orbitae Films

Sora, are we fu**?

Updated: Feb 28

OpenAI made headlines again, this time with their new tool, Sora. A new text-to-video generator, that has created both excitement and concern across various sectors, including in the realm of filmmaking. Why? Because unlike its contemporaries, Sora seems to produce more photorealistic videos (and animated ones), with a lot of movement, in kind of a reliable way.  

So, here is what you need to know and what we think about it.

Prompt: Photorealistic closeup video of two pirate ships battling each other as they sail inside a cup of coffee.

Sora: A Leap in Content Creation

At its core, Sora is another text-to-video model. However, per Open AI’s website, it “is able to generate complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background. The model understands not only what the user has asked for in the prompt, but also how those things exist in the physical world”. Which, according to the videos published, is indeed quite impressive.

Here’s a bit of info dump: Sora's videos are up to 60 seconds long in full HD 1920x1080. It is not yet available to the public. There is not a release date. It’s still under assessment for critical areas. Open AI will share the progress of their research on their website.

You can see some of the videos they are generating over on their TikTok page:

Fears and Turmoil

Concerns have immediately surfaced about the implications of such technology regarding fraud, misinformation and other possible misuses (including copyright). According to OpenAI, they are “taking several important safety steps ahead of making Sora available”, and add: “we are working with red teamers — domain experts in areas like misinformation, hateful content, and bias — who will be adversarially testing the model”.

Prompt: An extreme close-up of an gray-haired man with a beard in his 60s, he is deep in thought pondering the history of the universe as he sits at a cafe in Paris, his eyes focus on people offscreen as they walk as he sits mostly motionless, he is dressed in a wool coat suit coat with a button-down shirt , he wears a brown beret and glasses and has a very professorial appearance, and the end he offers a subtle closed-mouth smile as if he found the answer to the mystery of life, the lighting is very cinematic with the golden light and the Parisian streets and city in the background, depth of field, cinematic 35mm film.

Although this is clearly important, this is not an article about that. This is about its impact on filmmaking, with some saying that we’re doomed. That it’s the “end for directors” or worse. New technologies have always sparked fear and apprehension, but history shows us that the introduction of new technology, while initially daunting, does not necessarily lead to the obsolescence of traditional skills and roles, but more to the rise of set of skills.

This is similar to when everyone was going to (magically) become a photographer, because we all have an HQ camera in our pockets. It did not happen. The majority still takes crappy pictures of their food (no offense). Sora and similar tools are unlikely to replace the nuanced expertise of film directors and technicians. But they will certainly change the panorama, as they do offer more individuals new tools to bring their vision to life, potentially enriching the industry with a wider array of stories and perspectives.

Technology and Cinema: An Ongoing Evolution

Let’s not forget that the film industry has always thrived on technological innovation, from the invention of the camera itself to the use of CGI in creating visual effects, instead of matte paintings or stop motion. Each advancement has brought changes, opening new avenues for creative expression. Sora, in this light, is but the latest chapter in filmmaking's ongoing evolution, offering tools that were the exclusive domain of Hollywood to a broader audience.

Prompt: Borneo wildlife on the Kinabatangan River

The use of stock footage may become obsolete, although further testing is required to determine its integration into filmed scenes. We have tested numerous AI tools to assess if they're production ready. As of the publication date of this article, few have reached that stage, including Adobe Photoshop's AI generative tool, which we utilized to digitally demolish a large building (would you like to know how we did it? Let us know in the comments!). That's another thing... it will change how we make VFX (again!). So, let's brace!

AI Video Generators – a new medium Storytelling

The rise of AI video generators, such as Sora, marks an exciting evolution in digital content creation and filmmaking. However, Sora is not the only player in this field. Google is also researching its own technology, called Lumiere, and Pika emerges as a strong competitor to Runway. The latter has even introduced specific features like zoom in/out, pan left/right, alongside the traditional text and image prompts, which is indeed very cool. And these are just a few examples!

AI video generator
Runway's camera motion tool

These tools promise to democratize video production. Yet, our testing reveals a more complex reality. While they empower creators with new forms of expression, mastering these platforms often requires a blend of creativity, technical skill, and patience. Which means the rise of a new type of artists. The allure of AI-assisted video creation is undeniable, yet it's accompanied by a learning curve and an inherent element of randomness that challenges the notion of 'effortless' content generation. It is not as magical as it seems.

Embracing the Future

AI is bringing forth a new era for ideas. It offers a new lens through which to view creativity. Before, you not only had to have the idea, but also the know-how (how to paint light, chose colors, etc.). Now, it’s more about the lengths of your imagination and pushing it. This shift is what we find both exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. Indeed, with AI, anyone can create an aesthetically pleasing image, but it’s yet another one in an endless pool of content (which may lead to a potential 'standardization' of art).

So, the real questions are: what are you going to ask it? How are you going to edit it and make it your own? How are you going to use it to push your own creativity?

Prompt: A petri dish with a bamboo forest growing within it that has tiny red pandas running around.

If you’re a filmmaker or an artist, just give it a go! There are hundreds of AI tools today (and not only video generators). See which ones can fit or enhance your workflow, adapt to your pipeline, streamline processes and even help you in exploring new ways to shape an idea. Use AI to visualize pitches, to help you write dialogue in a language in which you're not fluent, and discover fresh strategies for transferring ideas from your imagination to paper and, eventually, onto the screen.

Thus, the mixed feelings of excitement and concern surrounding technologies like Sora are understandable. However, their true value and impact will be shaped by our choices as artists in how we adopt and integrate these tools. By viewing them as enhancements to human creativity and expertise rather than replacements (this also holds true for studios… cough cough), the filmmaking industry is set to continue its evolution, crafting stories that continue to inspire and bring amazement.

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