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AI x Virtual Production – Ready to rocket power your creative ambition?

Dec 19, 2023

Are Virtual Production and Artificial Intelligence (AI) really threats to human ingenuity? Or are they the tools we need to really set our creativity free and deliver outstanding content that wows and resonates? Let’s get the verdict from our Executive Creative Director, Andrew Park.

We’ve all worked on campaigns that were born out of a bad (or worse) idea. You know the one. The half-baked, good-enough-but-not-great idea. The idea that follows, rather than leads. That ticks a box rather than building a new one.

But bad ideas are as much a product of process as they are the creatives that ran with them, and I’m not naïve enough to believe that Virtual Production will cure that. A bad brief will invariably lead to a bad idea, no matter the incredible tech you put behind it.

And yes, risk-averse client behaviour is rife right now, resulting in the kind of creative that simply becomes part of the noise.

But with AI getting ever more adequate at churning out what we’d describe as ‘low-level content’, there’s never been a greater need for more stand-out, human-powered storytelling in marketing.

Brands need to connect. Not simply by shouting the loudest. They need nuance. They need humanity. They need originality.

You could say that Virtual Production is like AI for the world of production. They’re both tools to augment and turbocharge (but not replace) human creativity.

Take generative fill on Photoshop – it lets you create something new, rather than working with what already exists. Virtual Production does the same thing, but in a studio setting. So, where that ‘something new’ comes from is entirely up to the creative.

The point is, we need to embrace AI, not fear it.

As Mark Whelan, CCO and Chairman at Havas so eloquently puts it, “AI is not about outsourcing creativity. It’s about bringing other collaborators and sparring partners into the process”.

As much as finding the very best creative execution needs the insight of the strategy team and brand knowledge of the clients, AI can help us creatives get to that killer concept more quickly and efficiently.

Software such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion are great examples of how we can visualise a concept or story almost immediately, simply by putting in a few text prompts. It quickly provides us with a solid reference point to build on or even to branch off of, while giving us all back the most precious commodity we have – time.

That’s exactly what Virtual Production does to the film production process. It gives you time. Time that would have been spent location scouting, obtaining permits, hiring lighting rigs for every weather profile, flying a crew halfway around the world, and more besides.

And just as AI is a creative executional tool, so is Virtual Production.

Yes, they’re both awesome. Yes, they’re both pretty destabilising to the status quo of how we work in the world of marketing. But ultimately, they’re just tools that are there to help us.

They can’t have ideas.

They don’t, for now at least, have inherent imagination.

They don’t have ambition.

They’re not here to replace, but to augment and enhance our working processes.

And humans are still vital to the process – to have that initial spark of idea. The moment of inspiration that gave us a ŠKODA made of cake, or a drumming gorilla selling chocolate, didn’t happen in a vacuum.

A machine couldn’t come up with that. There’s no logical reason those two ads should stick in our minds, but I bet, even from those vague descriptions, most of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

They’re perfect examples of humans having an idea and running with it.

And with AI and Virtual Production, we can now run faster and further than ever before.

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