Will AI replace VFX artists? Top 7 WowHow Insights into Future Industry Changes

Author: Bob Jan 16, 2024 6 min read

VFX artists are the sorcerers we see behind our favorite monsters in movies and games, as well as the number one source of Michael Bay’s income. But with the advent of AI, just like many other professionals, they suffer from the uncertainty the future holds for their craft.

Is the future all doom and gloom, or will AI be the new messiah of visual effects artists? Learn about the current state of VFX and our insights on this topic in this article.

The Absolute State of VFX

visual effects artist

High-quality VFX are still in demand. The market was expected to grow by $5.5 billion by 2025. The recent WGA strike has significantly hampered (but did not stop) this growth, so we need new data. However, it does not affect VFX artists on the global scale, only those affiliated with Hollywood. Even then, the strike is all but over, and everyone is slowly going back to their job.

Therefore, your VFX career is not going to crumble overnight. In fact, the job security in VFX is reasonably high, and you can expect an increased demand for your profession.

The aftermath of COVID-19 also brought major industry changes to the profession. With how dependent most modern visual media are on computer-generated imagery (CGI), many special effects designers can work from home (and are loving it!).

Finally, the visual effects technology does not stay in place. We have so many innovations it’s hard to count them all: real-time rendering, AI and ML, immersive media (VR and AR), deep compositing, etc. These new technological marvels help industrious and creative visual effects artists create stunning vistas, mind-blowing animation, and believable effects.

The tight post-production schedule is a big drawback of these last few years. The schedules are getting tighter, the budgets smaller, and the expectations higher. However, those who adopt new film production technologies will be less affected by these changes than those sticking to the traditional VFX methods.

7 WowHow AI Insights into Future Industry Changes

AI Insights into future VFX artists changes

With all those VFX industry trends in mind, we have our own thoughts and observations. Here are 7 thoughts we have on the future of AI in VFX.

1. Augmentation, Not Replacement

The idea of AI replacing human VFX artists has been a subject of heated debate. Many professionals, however, view AI as a complementary tool that enhances their work. AI can assist with labor-intensive tasks, streamline workflows, and enable artists to focus on more creative aspects of their work. The overwhelming consensus is that rather than replacing artists, AI augments their capabilities, helping them achieve higher quality and efficiency.

Many VFX professionals see the future as a symbiotic relationship between artists and AI. While AI can automate tasks and provide efficiency, artists bring the creative vision and human judgment necessary for storytelling. This collaborative approach involves combining the strengths of both AI and artists to produce compelling visual effects. It’s not human creativity vs. AI’s precision and speed; they’re working together to achieve great results.

2. Automation of Repetitive Tasks in VFX

AI excels at automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks that VFX artists do, such as rotoscoping, tracking, and rendering. By taking on these mundane tasks, AI empowers artists to channel their creativity and skills into more artistic and imaginative aspects of their VFX work, ultimately enhancing the quality of the final product. 

3. Accelerating VFX Production

Meeting tight production deadlines is a constant challenge in the fast-paced media and entertainment world. AI-powered tools have the potential to significantly reduce production times in VFX projects. For instance, AI-driven rendering engines can produce high-quality visuals more quickly, allowing artists to meet strict timelines without compromising quality. The use of VFX AI accelerates the production process, making it more competitive and responsive to market demands.

4. Complex Simulations and Effects

AI-driven animation simulations and effects are revolutionizing the VFX industry by pushing the boundaries of what is achievable. Complex simulations, such as realistic fluid dynamics or intricate physics-based interactions, are now more accessible thanks to AI. 

Even individual visual effect artists and small studios can create awe-inspiring visuals that were previously unachievable. This advancement excites professionals in the field, as it opens up the field for smaller visual effects designers while pushing big players to innovate.

5. Customization and Personalization

AI’s ability to customize VFX to suit specific storytelling needs is a significant advantage. It allows for more personalized and creative outcomes in visual effects. By tailoring effects to the specific requirements of a project, AI contributes to more engaging and unique storytelling, ultimately enhancing the viewer’s experience. AI’s creative edge lies in its capacity to adapt and customize VFX to the narrative and creative vision.

6. Continuous Learning and Adaptation

Staying current with AI technologies and continuously updating skill sets is vital. Our VFX experts stress the importance of ongoing education and adaptation to remain competitive in the evolving industry. Artists must embrace new AI tools, software, and techniques and expand their knowledge to harness the potential of AI to the fullest.

Job displacement due to AI is a valid concern in many industries, including VFX. AI may automate some repetitive tasks previously handled by VFX artists, but our experts remain optimistic about the future of VFX. The demand for skilled VFX artists is expected to persist, as artists bring irreplaceable creativity, storytelling, and artistic judgment to projects. Rather than job replacement, the impact of AI is seen as a transformation of roles within the VFX industry.

7. AI in Previsualization: From Concepts to Reality

Previsualization is an essential stage in VFX project development. AI can play a pivotal role in this phase by rapidly generating rough visualizations and ideas for complex scenes. Creative automation streamlines the process by helping artists visualize concepts and turn them into reality more efficiently. AI enhances the previsualization process, enabling more accurate planning and creative exploration.

Conclusion

As you can see, the future of the whole entertainment industry is shaped by the advent of AI. Those who adopt AI automation in visual effects will swim, and professionals clinging to the old ways will, unfortunately, slowly drown in the sea of endless deadlines and sky-high expectations. 

WowHow’s VFX artists have already adopted AI for automation purposes, and we endorse everyone to do so as well. You will never go back to manual processes after trying AI.

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