2nd August 2023

Artificial intelligence and its ever-increasing evolution has sent ripples and to some, shockwaves across many industries worldwide including television production and broadcasting. But how has it affected broadcasting and production processes? What is its future? And should we be afraid or ready to embrace? We take a look at just a few ways AI can impact television and film production.   
What is it? 
AI is not a new phenomenon; it has been around for decades with the term ‘AI’ first coined as early as 1956. AI automates manual and routine tasks and can produce amazing results in half the time. Powerful AI video editing tools can assemble clips, add filters, transitions and resize content, potentially saving hours of time and effort in the post-production process. It has the power to sift through vast amounts of raw video footage to locate tiny elements needed, allowing broadcasters to quickly produce high volume concise video content packages ready for output across Social or online platforms.  
What is it capable of? 
AI imagery and video software has achieved astounding visual mastery through Deepfake technology creating convincing but entirely fictional photos from scratch.  Some television productions such as the BBC’s recent documentary ‘Hong Kong’s Fight For Freedom’ used AI to protect the identities of the protesters who were interviewed. AI spent two months learning how to map faces onto the faces of the protesters, helping to protect identities within the groundbreaking documentary. 
AI has the potential to be invaluable in both assisting existing restoration processes and improving overall video quality. For example, black and white footage can be recoloured by taking existing archive material and colour information from similar frames and recreating this material in colour in just 30 seconds instead of 30 minutes. Similar processes were used in restoring a 1906 video shot days before a devastating earthquake in Victorian San Francisco. Now enhanced and restored by AI, ‘A Trip Down Market Street’, is now higher resolution with a higher frame rate, and vibrant colours bringing alive stunning visuals of San Francisco before the earthquake struck.  
What are the drawbacks? 
All of this advanced super human technology is not without contention. Deepfake technology in particular has the potential to spread disinformation: in the run up to the 2020 US elections Facebook banned deepfake videos that were seen to likely mislead viewers into thinking politicians had said something they didn’t. Fears of AI replacing swathes of jobs across the board from copywriters, video editors, directors and actors, all have struck the heart of Hollywood. The Writers Guild of America and now Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have forced major studios to halt production in response to the impact AI is having on the film and television industry. Legality of AI and copyright is also a major contentious element, which has sparked a number of legal cases taken against AI software companies such as ChatGPT.  
But where is this all heading? What is the future of AI? AI will continue to evolve and mature but currently hasn’t the capacity to actually replace human jobs. It still needs human intervention, tweaks and knowledge to learn. Yet it is clearly a powerful tool to work alongside, and experiment, test its boundaries and see what happens!