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Secret Invasion studio under fire for AI art says ‘no artists’ jobs’ were lost

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Marvel Studios

After Marvel confirmed earlier this week that AI-generated images were used to create the opening credits sequence for its new Secret Invasion Disney Plus series, one of the biggest concerns woven into the general backlash was whether the move had put any traditional artists out of work. According to Method Studios, the VFX house that created the sequence, that couldn’t be further from the case.

At a time when traditional artists have been sharing their concerns about AI tools’ potential to take work from them, Secret Invasion prominently featuring AI-generated imagery as part of its opening credits has struck some as a sign of the entertainment industry’s willingness to embrace the technology regardless of the consequences. Previously, Secret Invasion executive producer Ali Selim has said he didn’t “really understand” the entire process behind Method Studios’ contribution to the series beyond how his team “would talk to them about ideas and themes and words, and then the computer would go off and do something.”

Now, though, in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Method Studios today made a point of clarifying that while computers did go off to do something, that something didn’t come at the expense of any living humans’ jobs. Method described the entire production process as being both “highly collaborative and iterative, with a dedicated focus on this specific application of an AI toolset” but also emphasized that the AI tools used were meant to help its creative teams.

“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,” Method Studios said. “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.”

Because the images in Secret Invasion’s credits look so much like the warped, trippy content people have grown accustomed to seeing deep learning models like DALL-E spit out, one of the bigger questions looming over Secret Invasion has been whether the AI tools used here were creating images based on original art made by humans. While Method Studio didn’t go into great detail about its processes, it did insist that its 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,” the VFX house said.

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