Artificial intelligence continues to evolve as it finds new ways to learn and function, including tackling the subject of creativity. Olga Egorsheva from, Lobster, explores what’s Next on the machine learning list: computer-generated imagery.

AI’s relationship with creativity has always been a curious one. Can machine learning truly equal the human mind when it comes to expressing creativity? Perhaps some of the answers can be found in its efforts to recreate computer-generated images.

Not your average CGI

If you think of computer-generated imagery (CGI), the first image likely to pop into your head will be a Hollywood blockbuster. The special effects most often associated with CGI have become a regular feature in big-budget movies over the years.

From sketchy graphics to photo-realistic visuals, the evolution of CGI has been nothing short of extraordinary. Companies such as Pixar have created a revolution and have managed to bring genuine emotion to graphics.

Advertising and marketing CGI

As the technology improves and costs become more economical, more companies across various industries will pay greater attention to CGI. A trend we are already beginning to see with the advertising and marketing sectors who have dipped their toes in the CGI pool.

For example, the fashion industry has taken advantage of the technology available to promote clothes. We are now seeing a greater frequency of brands replacing real-life models with virtual ones.

It’s not just humans that are getting a computer make over: brands such as Ikea use CGI to display their furniture in digital promotional catalogues as it allows them to showcase products in greater detail. 3D model houses have also long been a popular marketing tool for estate agents and are often used to reveal how new builds currently still under construction will look once they are completed.

Oh, hey there AI

It comes as no surprise that artificial intelligence is now entrenched in computer-generated imagery, and those in charge of machine learning feel the capabilities are there for AI to create genuine CGI.

The reason why is clear: if it’s already cheaper to use CGI instead of real people, the cost will reduce even further if AI is producing computer-generated images. And while we’re not quite at the junction where fully enhanced CGI created by machine learning is the norm, there have certainly been some promising signs.

Filter out the noise

An example of how AI is producing hugely popular images which are capturing the imagination of millions is Snapchat’s filter functionality. The app has spent a significant amount of time experimenting as it looks for ways to offer a different dynamic from other popular social media sites. The company’s face filters and face swaps have proved to be popular additions to the service - and machine learning has a heavy influence.

It’s not only the filters where Snapchat is using machine learning: AI is helping to define which stories show up in your news feed when you’re on the app by understanding your user journey.

Treading the waters

There are other areas where AI is having more influence as algorithms show greater complexities and pave the way for more freedom and creativity. Researchers at Stanford University have developed an AI system that can create real-time facial re-enactment and animated facial expressions.

Furthermore, Victor Riparbelli, CEO at Synthesia, who are developing AI to generate synthetic video, thinks the possibilities to take advantage of these methods indicates exciting times. “We are not far from being able to easily generate artificial media that is indistinguishable from the real thing. In the future music, pictures and videos will increasingly be created by computers, and we will not be able to tell the difference.”

Victor also feels that AI’s capabilities will allow creatives to focus on creating, giving them more freedom to be expressive. “What we are seeing is that humans are moving up an abstraction layer. Computers will no longer serve as tools only but increasingly take on the role of an artist.”

AI, CGI, you and I

Could we potentially see a future where a machine has created CGI in movies, TV shows, adverts, and streaming? Possibly. Although we’re perhaps still a little way off from a landscape that is completely controlled by AI.

For the time being though, AI is coming up with some interesting concepts that will appeal on a smaller scale and help humans to express their creative freedom that little bit more.

Olga Egorsheva, is the CEO and Co-Founder of Lobster