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Artificial intelligence is rapidly and continually evolving, and is now widely available across the globe. The widespread and accelerated distribution of this technology is sure to impact various sectors, including the entertainment industry. With the world poised for significant change, how will AI affect actors and the field of acting? Here are a few examples of how AI is affecting content creation and actor performances:

Content Creation

AI is being used to generate content across various mediums, and AI algorithms can produce music, create artwork, and even write scripts, dialogue, and storylines. On the plus side, AI has the potential to streamline production processes and unlock new creative possibilities, but this technology comes with a cost that is not fully known.

Industry writers are concerned AI will chisel away at their work opportunities, and on May 2, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), went on strike, demanding higher pay and a stable pay structure, as well as provisions about AI. When the WGA, which represents over 11,000 film, television, news, radio and online writers announced the strike, it called this moment an “existential crisis” for writers.

The WGA proposed that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) regulate the use of artificial intelligence on projects covered in their collective bargaining agreement: “AI can’t write or rewrite literary material; can’t be used as source material; and Minimum Basic Agreement-covered material can’t be used to train AI.” In response, the AMPTP has thus far rejected the proposal, countering that they’re willing to offer annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology.

Actor Performances

AI has started to impact actors in several ways within the entertainment industry. Here are a few technological tools available that affect performers:

Casting and Auditions

AI algorithms can assist casting directors in narrowing down the pool of actors by analyzing vast amounts of data and identifying potential talent. AI-powered systems can analyze attributes such as facial expressions, voice quality, and physical characteristics to match actors with suitable roles.

Virtual Characters

AI technology enables the creation of virtual characters that can perform alongside actors. While such advancements provide new opportunities for storytelling and visual effects, they could reduce the need for actual actors to fill such roles.

Performance Enhancement

AI tools can guide actors to improve their performances. For example, AI-based coaching applications can provide feedback on acting techniques, emotions, and delivery. Actors can receive personalized suggestions to refine their performances and explore different interpretations. There are various performance-enhancement tools available to help actors refine their craft, and here are a few examples:

  • Virtual Acting Coaches
  • AI-powered virtual acting coaches provide feedback to actors. These tools analyze performances and provide insights on aspects such as facial expressions, body language, voice modulation, and overall delivery. They can help actors identify areas for improvement and offer suggestions to enhance their acting skills.

  • Scene Analysis and Script Breakdown Tools
  • Software applications and online platforms exist that help actors analyze scripts and break down scenes. These tools provide a structured approach to understanding the characters, their motivations, and the dynamics of the scene. They assist actors in developing a deeper understanding of the material and making informed choices in their performances.

  • Emotion Recognition Software
  • AI algorithms can analyze facial expressions and gestures to identify and interpret emotions. This technology helps actors understand and refine their portrayal of specific emotions. By receiving real-time feedback on their emotional expression, actors can achieve greater self-awareness and fine-tune their performances.

  • Voice Training and Accent Coaches
  • A variety of AI-powered voice training tools can help actors improve their vocal techniques, pronunciation, and accents. These tools provide exercises, feedback, and customized lessons to develop vocal range, clarity, and diction. Here is one that helps users learn an American accent.

  • Rehearsal Apps and Virtual Scene Partners
  • Mobile apps and online platforms offer rehearsal tools and virtual scene partners that actors can use during their preparation process. These tools provide pre-recorded dialogue, interactive prompts, and virtual interactions to simulate scene work. They enable actors to practice their performances and experiment with different approaches, even when a physical scene partner is not available.

  • Deepfake Technology
  • AI-powered deepfake technology, while controversial, has the potential to impact actors. It allows for the manipulation of existing footage or the creation of entirely fabricated performances that mimic the appearance and behavior of specific individuals. “Bill Hader impersonates Arnold Schwarzenegger” is an example of a deepfake video that showcases actor Bill Hader imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger on a talk show appearance—seamlessly morphing Hader’s face into Schwarzenegger’s while retaining Hader’s mannerisms and voice.
    Deepfake technology can be controversial and can be used for malicious purposes, such as spreading misinformation or creating non-consensual content, so it’s important to approach deepfake content critically.

The Wonder of the Living Actor

Should performers be concerned about the possibility of dwindling acting opportunities? It’s definitely a topic for debate, but even with all of the impressive leaps in technological prowess, we feel that real-life actors have some clear advantages. Real-life actors indeed have a soul, a rich assortment of human experience, and deep connections with other human beings. Their creativity and curiosity have no bounds, and they have a vision of the stories they wish to tell, and characters they want to portray. Here are specific qualities about actors that keeps their work opportunities in good standing:

  • Creativity and Emotional Nuance
  • Acting requires the ability to convey complex emotions, connect with audiences, and bring characters to life in a way that resonates with viewers. Human actors possess the unique ability to express genuine emotions and interpret scripts with depth and subtlety. As AI-generated performances are not the fruit of a person with a soul, they may lack a nuanced emotional range that is learned from experiencing life with genuine connections to others, and also may lack creativity that real actors bring to their roles.

  • Human Connection and Authenticity
  • The human connection between actors and audiences is a vital element of storytelling. Viewers often engage with characters on an emotional level, empathizing with their struggles and journeys. While AI-generated performances can mimic certain aspects of actors, they may struggle to replicate the authentic human connection that comes from genuine performances.

  • Creative Collaboration
  • Acting involves collaboration and improvisation with other actors, directors, and crew members. The dynamic exchange of ideas, reactions, and interpretations is a crucial aspect of the creative process. Human actors contribute their unique perspectives, instincts, and ability to adapt, making them indispensable in collaborative environments.

  • Unpredictable and Unscripted Situations
  • Acting often requires responses to unexpected situations, improvising, and adapting on the spot. AI systems typically rely on pre-defined algorithms and data, limiting their ability to handle spontaneous and unpredictable scenarios effectively.

  • New Opportunities and Roles
  • While AI may impact certain aspects of the entertainment industry, it can also create new opportunities. For example, AI-generated characters might require human actors for motion capture or voice acting. Also, emerging mediums like virtual reality and augmented reality can provide new avenues for actors to explore their craft.

AI is a tool that can enhance certain aspects of content creation, but can’t fully replicate the unique talents, creativity, and emotional depth that human actors bring to their work. Collaboration, human connection, and the ability to interpret complex emotions will always be valued in the entertainment industry.

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