AI – A revolution begins…

The year 2023 will go down in history as the year AI was released on the general public. Social media is already awash with people’s efforts. I’ve enjoyed ChatGPT (the GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) and have jokingly called it my new friend. I’ve given it old essay questions from college and it’s churned out such impressive answers in seconds. I’ve also tried to baffle it with hard and surreal questions such as “Using Peppa Pig as a metaphor, explain string theory” or “Using follow-spotting as a simile, explain fascism!” And it’s answered everytime with erudition. With such “intelligence” there have been many media stories of scholars predicting the eventual destruction of our species because of AI, some suggest in as little as two years. Others have voiced concern about the job losses it could also lead to. But I digress.

This post is to showcase my latest efforts with Adobe Firefly. Currently in beta and therefore free (although I do subscribe to AdobeCC) I thought I’d check out it’s picture generator and why not try some Twilight Ballrooms ideas. So below is the result.

These are the pick of the crop. AI is still in its infancy and even with these images you can see some whopping errors. But they’re still impressive. And these haven’t been touched up with PhotoShop (even though I was desperate to). I very much wanted to present them as they were originally generated.

Each image has been generated through prompts given by me. For example, I’ve typed “An abandoned seaside resort in Britain. Closed down arcades and fish’n’chip shops and stalls. It’s dusk and stormy. Almost black and white with specks of colour” – I can then also add the styles, colour and tone, camera setup etc…

All creative AI still requires a prompt, clarification, focus and finesse. That’s the art bit. And for that reason I’m not convinced by those who feel threatened by it. All art requires the human touch. It’s merely the tools that are changing.

As for the Twilight project, I can’t see me swapping to AI to complete the project, but it is a great tool for inspiration, rather like a generative Pinterest. And would be amazing if you just wanted to create storyboards!

If anyone can…..

Today was a bit of a Red Letter Day for Tranquility Base Presents in general. After months of research and general umming and erring, I finally bought a new video camera. However, no ordinary camera. You maybe surprised to learn that I actually bought a DSLR – something that I’ve seen other enthusiasts do of late, even though I will primarily be using it for video filming. Yes, I chose the Canon 550d or if you live in the States, aka The Rebel T2i!

A Rebel T2i without a cause

So why a DSLR. Well, for the same price as it’s camcorder equivalent, you get more manual control over important aspects such as exposure and focus, not to mention great depth of field. For the Twilight project I needed a camera that would respond well to greenscreen so exposure control was a plus. And don’t forget the ability to swap lenses too allowing extra features such as wide angle shots, great, detailed close ups, zoom without digital zoom pixelling and heaps more which I will, no doubt, discover as I learn to use it! All that and a great selection of formats to record video in – NTSC & PAL in 24p,25p,30p,50p and 60p, from standard to Full HD. Indeed, by most accounts and reviews on the Internet, Canon is the best for Video on DSLR. Just look at the numerous examples on YouTube and you’ll see why – others just aren’t good enough. And why have almost good when you want Red One perfect….well almost!

Everyone will have different needs when it comes to filming. I found this old post last January on the brilliant Video Co-Pilot website. Read it if you’d like a well written summary of your options.

There are naturally downsides – it’s polycarbonate body makes it a little vulnerable to any accident that may happen as well as susceptible to weather if used outdoors. But hey, that’s nothing when you consider its potential – and that’s precisely what I want to consider in the next month or so. No doubt, loads of demos and experiments heading this blogs way…. so bite me or humour me! Either way get ready, the Twilight Ballrooms is coming!

…and the lovely Rita!

Richard Leigh’s production of the live show wot I wrote “The Twilight Ballrooms” had a successful run at Jermyn Street last month and there is more to come in 2011. Michelle Roberts who plays what’s left of the “Roger McGuffin Holiday Dancers” took some great photos. These will be appearing on the Twilight Ballrooms website in due course. Meanwhile I was able to use one of the photos to create this demo poster.