Recently, Netflix caused a stir in the anime community when it revealed that it had utilized artificial intelligence in the creation of backgrounds for its latest short, “Dog & The Boy”. The company made the announcement on Twitter, calling it an “experimental project to help the understaffed anime industry” but that tweet was met with an outpouring of criticism.
Many in the industry, such as music producer DJ Fresh and British animator Hamish Steele, felt that the use of AI was not something to be celebrated. They felt that it was a disservice to the countless animators who were struggling to find work in the industry.
The three-minute film was created in Tokyo as part of the Netflix Anime Creators Base initiative, which aims to accelerate the production of anime by experimenting with new technologies. It was produced in collaboration with Rinna Inc., an AI company, and WIT Studio, the studio behind the first three seasons of the hit anime “Attack on Titan”.
Netflix アニメ・クリエイターズ・ベース×技術開発のrinna株式会社×WIT STUDIOによる共同プロジェクトアニメ『犬と少年』のショートムービー。
— Netflix Japan | ネットフリックス (@NetflixJP) January 31, 2023
The use of AI was acknowledged in the end credits, where “AI + Human” was listed as the designer of the backgrounds. The backgrounds are a crucial component of any anime, and in the case of “Dog & The Boy”, the use of AI was evident. The AI generated illustrations based on preliminary sketches, which were then fine-tuned by human animators.
This type of solution has sparked a growing debate in both the world of graphics and text. Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, of Studio Ghibli, once famously said that “it’s an affront to life itself” in reference to the possibilities of technology. However, the progress of technology cannot be stopped.
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