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AI film festival gives glimpse of cinema's future

NEW YORK, United States — With fantastical characters including mud people and giant grandmothers, an AI film festival is giving a glimpse of the storytelling made possible by the novel technology.

Nearly 3,000 short films were submitted to the festival organized by Runway AI, one of the leading start-ups in the field of AI-powered video generation.

The 10 films selected put the filmmakers' vivid imaginations on display, with their stories set in aesthetically stunning universes.

"There is a perception of ... AI- driven filmmaking and creation as having a very specific style," Runway co-founder and chief technology officer Anastasis Germanidis told AFP.

But each of the selected films "feels very different from the other one," he said Thursday at the festival's awards ceremony.

Movie making and animation having grown by leaps and bounds in the past 50 years, past feature films like "Inception," "The Matrix" and "Loving Vincent" come to mind when watching the AI shorts.

But the latest technology allows films to be made on a fraction of a typical movie budget, and by anyone with access to a computer and the software.

With just a prompt, Runway can transform a series of still images into a short video, or turn a photo into a painting.

In February, generative AI leader OpenAI launched its video creation software, dubbed Sora, while Google and Meta are developing their own versions, called Lumiere and Emu, respectively.

For his short that won an Honoree prize at the festival, Leo Cannone generated hundreds of images using the AI application Midjourney, then animated them with Runway, making countless edits along the way.

Current AI technology is still underdeveloped in some areas, particularly in providing multiple camera angles and creating flawless human-like speaking characters.

"I couldn't really have (human) characters or dialogue, so that set the aesthetic of the film," the French director said of his short, about what happens to grandmothers after they die. (Spoiler: they become giants.)

With the AI-generated visuals "there were still a lot of defects in each scene, so I had to retouch a lot. It doesn't come out of the software ready to use."

Runway co-founder