3D & VFX Freelancer - 20 years in then...
Let me start by saying this is all just for fun and your job is not at risk and everything is fine. Read on or pretend it’s not happening, it’s your call, either way life is too short.
AI likes to scribble
Let me start from where we are now and before I go on (I can’t even believe I have to write this sentence) this blog post was not written by Artificial Intelligence. I would of never thought that I would have to say such a thing 5 years ago but I want you to know that I shoot from the hip and write from the heart and on occasion try to utilize what is left of my burnt out, dying, strung out, monkey nut of a brain without AI.
I’m not an AI hater (that’s a thing) progress is progress, some progress will cause major upset in an industry but I believe we’ve really gone and done it with AI.
It has started with the creative industry, why ?
What’s one of the first things you do as a kid ? scribble and play ! it’s creative, and almost all kids do this in the early stages of life and we are currently at the scribble stage with AI. It might seem super advanced at the moment but so did Speak and Spell in the 80’s.
“But Speak and Spell didn’t go on to kill the entire human race by infecting microwaves with murder nano bots through AI robot produced microwave meals” I hear you say – true, it did not but wait !
“Texas Instruments who made Speak and Spell sold off their defense related division to Raytheon Company who were the first to research the Magnetron which led to the first demonstration of the ‘Microwave’ . Raytheon also manufacture missiles, weapons sensors and satellite components” (which will all probably go on to be used during the war of the machines) So Speak and Spell is not the innocent nostalgic educational friend that you thought it was !
I’m not writing this to discuss the end of humanity or AI infected Microwaves though, no it’s far worse than that. I’m talking about market saturation!
Drug dealers will be fine.
What happens when all of the drug dealers in your area (sorry I don’t know any) all get the same amount of product freely available to them ? it’s all the same stuff and there is an abundance of it, what happens ?
Business dictates that someone lowers their prices. It doesn’t matter how good they are at their chosen career path saturation will cause them to get into a price war, but it doesn’t stop there, oh no. When the saturation is so great that everyone can just get dope from anywhere then the entire drug peddling industry collapses. Do you see where I am coming from? Saturation is bad ! and AI imagery which is fast moving into 3D which is fast moving into not even needing 3d and creating movies and fx from simple commands will saturate the market. But don’t worry, drug dealers will be fine.
Cute fluffy bears are done for
We can see it already everywhere. When a company would hire an artist for a little pre vis more often than not it isn’t anymore. They just use Midjourney (other ai’s are available) it’s super fast and fast is good for production and ever decreasing budgets. So that’s pre vis artists struggling. Image Re touching – struggles, art work creation and illustration – more can do it now, cute fluffy bear story book illustration – anyone can do it now, logo design and look development pffftt my dad could make a hundred logo ideas in minutes. It’s happening – fast ! The creative app tech gods caught on to this, did not want to be left behind because they need that sweet sweet subscription money so they adopt it instead, I mean who wants to be the last one standing that doesn’t offer AI in their software…and the saturation continues. So where are we now, whats left ? well currently 3D is still safe, asking AI to change camera angles and textures to client specification is tough if not impossible at the moment so there is still some time left to grab the odd project ! But lets not forget the companies that prefer to use actual artists with actual skills ..hang on just got a phone call – “sorry what? what do you mean they don’t care and the budget is tight so they want to use AI “
Don't be so dramatic
If like me you are very very very good at your job 😉 you don’t have much to worry about. You know you will adapt and you know that if and when AI takes out a huge chunk of what you do you will just move on to produce even more technical mastery than you ever thought possible, and please let them start with uv mapping! I kind of joke here, but that’s actually someones job and we should never forget that. You see, it’s easy for us to forget that, it’s easy to be like “as long as it doesn’t start doing 3d modelling and cuts out uving or rigging I’m happy” but for that to happen someone with years of experience is having a life changing event, but that’s my point, to move forward in the current industry you have to be adaptive, you have to be across everything and open to anything and you have to be planning now. If you are the UV person you need to be across what is coming and focus on how to adopt it, how to build on it and how to master something new, at least as a back up. No need to see it as the end of things, it’s a challenge and as a creative human you are always better than AI.
2023 bad things happened.
The writers strikes of 2023 with nearly 98% of the Writers Guild voted to strike against the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers). it lasted for 148 days and brought big vfx studios to their knees but more importantly many many artists lost contracts and positions. The knock-on effect was with advertising and marketing, no movies or series = no advertising or marketing. That was felt far and wide and hit the freelance world through creative agencies and directly. If the content doesn’t come through there are no sponsors, that’s business. We all support the Writers Guild of course, you have to stand up and fight for what is right but the inadvertent effect of that was global and we are still feeling it now. AI didn’t help these matters either but the Writers Guild managed to score a blow against AI here with a clause that does not allow studios to continue writing a script or adapt it with AI that had already been started by a human writer. So I might be missing something here but that means studios can create full AI created scripts without issue..hmm
Maybe slightly less in the news were the huge amount of layoffs by many Game studios with some quoting that the layoffs were post pandemic related in that head counts had raised during those times when people were at home playing games. Some are looking to unionize and there is real concern around AI in this market also so it’s possible there will be some legal rules written here too.
But what about image creation, video creation, animation, logos, illustrations, books, coding etc where are the rules in place for this? I find it a little concerning that we don’t have a government that could see all of this unfolding and step in to make sure skilled people wont start losing their jobs. By the time they do step in, it will be too late.
Positive Narrative on AI
Consider this. Lets say you are freelancing and dont earn enough to hire some help on a project that is keeping you up until 2am every night on a horrible deadline that you just cant miss. We have all been there, it’s horrible and you miss that valuable time with your family or end up burnt out. Imagine for a moment having a small company that could handle most of it with you as the art director. You leave your comments for the overnight team to get the job done. All of the modelling, all of the animation and the rendering and you sleep like a baby.
That is very much a possibility, your own personal workforce of creatives powered by you, trained to be like you and your vision. It values everything you want it to. You like small details, sweet camera angles, a love for filmic storytelling and so does your team and that still keeps you in control while adhering to your personality.
“Good morning, I hope you slept well, we just sent the client the draft for approval, why don’t you get some tea and we will fill you in?”
Doesn’t sound so bad does it?
” Good morning Phil, I logged you in to your emails and messages, would you like us to read them to you while you go for a jog ? we can discuss the best responses based on the clients AI assistants personality “
“Phil, I connected you to several studios in the US looking for someone that has your specific style of art direction. The AI team has already sent over style frames from your portfolio and the Ai team across all of the connected companies love what yo do and are ready to submit to their team leaders upon waking up”
About the Author:
Phil Radford Is a 3d and vfx artist that has been in the industry for nearly 20 years and is very very very good at his job. He has no problem with AI but looks forward to using phase plasma rifles in the 40watt range at some point in the near future .