A US company claims to have cracked the formula for creating an episode of South Park using artificial intelligence – and it’s allowing users to be the star of the show.
Fable Simulation has developed an AI tool that can create short original episodes of the cartoon. “Not just dialogue. It animates, voices, and edits,” said Edward Saatchi, the company’s chief executive. Games Beat Website.
The tool, called AI Showrunner, allows users to enter a sentence or two that creates an episode, and can generate a character based on the user’s own appearance and voice.
Generative AI, the catch-all term for technological systems that generate concrete text and images from prompts, has captured the public imagination since ChatGPT launched in November. It has also played a role in Hollywood actors joining writers in a strike over pay, technology and how to split the profits of the digital streaming era.
The witness insisted that the South Park tool, which had been produced without patent permission, was purely for research purposes and not available for public use.
„We showed the South Park episode as an example and making TV for research. We didn’t want to profit from it, and we didn’t publish a way for others to do it. We realized it’s hard to explain how the model works without comparison,” he said.
He also said the shows’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Paramount-owned Comedy Central, the show’s broadcaster, were not approached about the test.
Last year, Parker and Stone said they had secured a $20 million investment in their own AI entertainment company, Deep Voodoo, which develops „leading-edge deepfake technology, cost-effective visual effects services and original synthetic media projects.”
This year, South Park released an episode that was partially written using ChatGPT. In the fourth episode of season 26, titled Deep Learning, the city’s schoolchildren explore a new technology that can help them do their homework. The episode features voices generated by an AI-powered text-to-voice generator.
The transformative role of AI across TV and film is a major concern among writers and actors participating in the Hollywood strike. Fran Drescher, president of the SAG-AFTRA union, said when announcing the strike last month: „This is a moment in history … when we’re all going to be in danger of being replaced by machines.”
A letter signed by more than 300 actors, including A-listers like Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence, reiterated members’ concerns about AI.
Copyright is proving a contentious issue around the creation of AI models, and Saatchi insisted he would work with intellectual property holders before allowing such technology to be made available to the public.
„We’re talking to a lot of studios and IP holders that can use their IP to allow fans to make shows,” he said. „For any show, we think fans will be able to create their own episodes, even competitively, with permission from the IP holders — and we think that’s going to lead to interesting stuff.”
South Park Studios has been contacted for comment.
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