AI creates a full South Park episode as strikes continue

July 24, 2023

South Park episode created by AI

Fable Studios soft-launched their generative AI tool, Showrunner AI, capable of producing high-quality television shows from scratch.

In a tweet, Fable announced the release of its paper titled “Generative TV & Showrunner Agents.” The paper describes how the new AI tool can write, direct, animate, voice, and edit a show from a prompt.

To demonstrate the tool’s capabilities they created a full-length episode of the animated series South Park in which one of the main characters, Cartman, tries to use AI to take on the media industry.

While the episode isn’t anywhere near as funny as the episodes produced by human writers, it’s an alarming indication of the potential disruption AI holds for the entertainment industry. This episode was created without the assistance of animators, scriptwriters, voice artists, or editors. The AI was simply trained on previous episodes and then prompted to create its own episode.

The timing of the release would have hit a nerve with the actors’ and screenwriters’ guilds which are still striking to protest the danger AI poses to their jobs. 

Fable’s CEO, Edward Saatchi, said that showing what their AI is capable of doing is actually a good thing for the TV and film creatives that are striking. 

Saatchi said, “We think the timing is correct — we are right in the middle of the biggest strike in 60 years, by releasing the research we hope [for] the Guilds in Hollywood to negotiate strong, strong, strong protections that producers cannot use AI tools without the express permission of artists.”

He also said that the demonstration of Showrunner AI emphasizes the need for creatives and IP holders to “negotiate with AI chatbot companies who are profiting from their work.”

If you rely on using your talents to produce television and film for a living then the idea of a tool like Showrunner AI must be terrifying. But there are some positive use cases that a lot of people will be excited to try out.

In Fable’s paper Greg Brockman, CTO of OpenAI, was quoted saying “That Is What Entertainment Will Look Like. Maybe people are still upset about the last season of Game of Thrones. Imagine if you could ask your A.I. to make a new ending that goes a different way and maybe even put yourself in there as a main character or something.” 

Production companies may well have been excited about the time and money AI could save them in producing their content with reduced dependence on human actors and writers. But now tools like Showrunner AI may have them wondering about just how safe their own jobs are.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.


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