Jones says the current Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) strike not only highlights concerns over the potential impact of AI on the entertainment sector but is set to create new risks in the months and years to come.
“The potential use of AI in the film and entertainment industry is one if the significant issues which is behind the current SAG dispute,” she adds. “There are concerns from actors over the ability for studios to use their image from previous projects to allow AI to create completely new films and programming without the need for the actor to be present. It is this capability – that AI has the ability to steam someone’s identity – which is causing real concern for many in the industry, and they are seeking reassurances over the future.”
“We saw US studios forced to shut down in late May and this month has seen any production in Europe and the UK which involved a SAG member forced to sit down as well. It has affected a number of major studios in the UK.”
Jones says the debate over AI will continue and given the complexity of the issues it is likely that the strike will not come to an end in the short term:
“The issues involved are such that it is likely that this strike will last for some time. For every day or week it continues it puts a wide range of production behind schedule. Therefore, when the strike comes some to an end it is likely that the delayed productions will be keen to restart. However, there will be productions that are scheduled for the autumn and winter which will have booked studio space. It will create a risk of production having to find alternative space and as we have seen in that this can create new risks for the studios, productions companies and the insurers.
“In the past we have seen productions move to other sites outside of the studios such as warehousing. However thus can comes with new risk. There have been examples where a production company has moved into an empty building begun the set up only to find that the building contained asbestos and as such could not be used.”
It will not simply be a shortage of space. The specialist equipment needed will also be in short supply as will the technical teams required to produce the film.
“As we are aware in the UK for instance there is a shortage of skilled staff in the entertainment industry on the production side,” Jones explains. “The risks will come as everyone will look to go at the same time. When many are on a tight budget the temptation to cut corners is there and with efforts to cut corners comes an increased risk that accidents will happen.
The rise in the use of AI also comes with a move to virtual production in which actors perform in front of a bank of what are in effect TV monitors onto which a background can be projected.
“It is very early days for the technology but it is getting ever better,” Jones says. There are risks around it as with any new technology and for the entertainment sector delays can cost significant amounts of money.”
With the advances technology has come a rising cost of equipment, she adds: As we saw when Pinewood Studios suffered a fire at one of its major stages last year the costs of lighting and equipment can be significant. Reliability can also be an issue. For instance if you have a very heavy lighting set suspended above the actors and production team it needs to be safe and secure. LED screens can be very sensitive to damage of all kinds. The equipment these days is so sensitive any damage can impact the ability to deliver the quality needed. Colour and light levels have to be uniform across all screens.”
As such the new equipment if damage can often result in the need for a full replacement rather than repair.
Jones says while the visual effect equipment can open the sector to new types of claims it can also be used to limit the cost of claims in specific instances. For example, there have been situations where an actor has been unable to wear the wig that had been used in prior filming and was unable to adapt their appearance as they were contracted to another project. The use of virtual effects allowed the production team to over lay the necessary hairstyle without the ned for physical change which would have necessitated a lengthy delay.
Thew use of AI and technology is already having an effect on the industry and that can only increase,” Jones concludes. “For insurers and loss adjusters it is very much a collaborative approach given the expertise required and the complexity of the claims.”
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