Hollywood’s ‘Barbenheimer’ Oscars Overshadowed by OpenAI’s Text-to-Video Tech

Hollywood's 'Barbenheimer' Oscars Overshadowed by OpenAI's Text-to-Video Tech

OpenAI’s Sora, a text-to-video generator, stirs new tech anxieties in Hollywood during the 96th Academy Awards season.

Hollywood will have an opportunity to present an image of itself at the 96th Academy Awards that aligns with its desired perception following a challenging year that saw two bitter strikes.

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This year, the films garnered critical acclaim include Barbie and Oppenheimer, the edgy drama Poor Things, auteur turns like Killers of the Flower Moon and The Zone of Interest, and scathing satire like American Fiction. At least this year, the “Barbenheimer” Oscars should allay recent complaints that the nominees were overly obscure.

Sora overshadows Barbenheimer Oscars 

The lineup is so exciting that the entertainment industry will be able to forget, if only for one evening, about the belt-tightening at entertainment companies that has made “survive to 2025” a motto for some Hollywood employees.

However, a new concern that has surfaced recently—OpenAI’s Sora text-to-video generator—has only exacerbated the tech-induced anxiety in Hollywood that started with the streaming revolution.

Concept artist and illustrator Karla Ortiz, whose credits include Marvel’s Black Panther and Dr. Strange, claimed that the film industry struggled with “competing feelings.”

“There are two big blockbusters that are nominated for Oscars, and Hollywood loves that,” said Ortiz. “But there’s also budget cuts this year, and OpenAI’s release of Sora has got people freaked out.” 

The frenzy started on February 15 when Microsoft-backed OpenAI unveiled some incredibly impressive trailers that astounded filmmakers, animators, and cinematographers with their caliber.

Raising the alarm

The first to raise the alarm was producer and director Tyler Perry, who told The Hollywood Reporter that after seeing Sora, he had “indefinitely” put on hold plans to expand an Atlanta studio for $800 million. “Until I recently watched the demonstrations of what it can do, I had no idea,” he remarked. “I find that shocking.”

According to a January report called “Future: Unscripted,” the entertainment industry has been one of the first to use generative AI, predicted to result in the “elimination of many jobs entirely.”

Additionally, in a report by CVL Economics, commissioned by the Animation Guild and other unions that represent artists in the entertainment industry, nearly 65 percent of the 300 business leaders surveyed by the study said they expected generative AI to lead to job losses in the next three years.

According to the report, New York would account for 28% of the jobs lost in the creative industry, with California following closely behind. Freelancers and gig workers are not included in the figures even though they would likely be significantly impacted.

Sora has yet to be ready for its close-up. It can only produce a minute or so of video, and it doesn’t comprehend physics like a human does. Glass that is falling has an equal chance of bouncing off the ground and breaking.

Nick Lynes, the co-founder and chief executive of Flawless, a company that provides studios and filmmakers with AI tools, said there’s literally no story in these short clips, and they only see the ones that look amazing. He added that they are examples of how technologies are evolving, but it will take a long time before they can support filmmakers properly.

RELATED TOPICS: AI, Barbenheimer, Hollywood, OpenAI, Sora
Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.