According to Collider, Marvel is trying to defend their widely criticized use of AI art for Secret Invasion's opening titles.
Well, that didn't take long. We all knew that AI art and Hollywood were destined to dance together and create problems for creatives in and outside the industry. Like the forbidden fruit in Eden, AI is just too tantalizing an option for Hollywood to ignore on a business level. The time-honored adage, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free," comes to mind.
However, one of the companies that should've avoided AI art like the plague just buckled and employed the technology for their new show. Marvel recently caught a ton of backlash for using AI art to create the opening titles for their new show Secret Invasion. On its own, the move is an unethical one, as it robs artists of their jobs. But the decision to use AI art is terrible for Marvel's optics – to borrow a phrase from Succession– as the studio has a history of short-changing VFX artists.
On Wednesday, Polygon published statements from Ali Selim, Secret Invasion director and executive producer, stating that the show's title sequence was created using artificial intelligence. Salim said that he didn't "really understand" how it worked, but he noted: "We would talk to them about ideas and themes and words, and then the computer would go off and do something. And then we could change it a little bit by using words, and it would change."
As innocent as Selim's comments may appear, they mask either a benign, or malignant, ignorance of the greater issues behind the use of artificial intelligence. Why could they not just employ someone to design credits based on those ideas they had? Method Studios, the company behind the creation of the credits issued the following statement after the backlash to the revelations:
Working on Secret Invasion, a captivating show exploring the infiltration of aliens into human society, provided an exceptional opportunity to delve into the intriguing realm of AI, specifically for creating unique character attributes and movements. Utilizing a custom AI tool for this particular element perfectly aligned with the project's overall theme and the desired aesthetic.
The production process was highly collaborative and iterative, with a dedicated focus on this specific application of an AI toolset. It involved a tremendous effort by talented art directors, animators (proficient in both 2D and 3D), artists, and developers, who employed conventional techniques to craft all the other aspects of the project. However, it is crucial to emphasize that while the AI component provided optimal results, AI is just one tool among the array of toolsets our artists used. No artists' jobs were replaced by incorporating these new tools; instead, they complemented and assisted our creative teams.
Method Studios' team of designers skillfully leveraged the power of both existing and custom AI technologies to apply the otherworldly and alien look. The entire process, guided by expert art direction, encompassed the initial storyboard phase, illustration, AI generation, 2D/3D animation and culminated in the final compositing stage.