Tim Burton, who is renowned for his distinctively styled films and characters, offers his opinions on artificial intelligence and its potential danger to animation.
In a recent interview with The Independent, the director was questioned about a Buzzfeed article from July that employed artificial intelligence to simulate what Disney films would look like under Burton’s direction.
“They had AI do my versions of Disney characters!. I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”
Some of the AI-generated examples included Aurora from Sleeping Beauty with a similar-colored face but with stitches across her cheeks and lying in a long, dark dress, as well as Elsa from Frozen with a pale white face and wearing a black dress while in what appeared to be a haunting forest.
Burton admitted that some of the works were “very good,” but that didn’t change how he felt about seeing his creative approach copied.
“What it does is it sucks something from you, it takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”
There has been constant discussion over the use of AI in Hollywood throughout the industry, with many people requesting protection against the technology. Since contract discussions with studios and streamers failed, actors and writers have been on strike for months as a result. One of the primary issues on which they couldn’t come to an agreement was artificial intelligence (AI).
Later in the conversation, Burton revealed how draining it may be to work on large-scale studio productions, but he still makes an effort to see the bright side of everything he does.
“That’s why it is hard for me to watch the movies afterwards, because I still feel the emotional whatever of it. I don’t get a release from that. But I do enjoy all the people I’ve worked with,” the director said. “On this last one, Beetlejuice 2, I really enjoyed it. I tried to strip everything and go back to the basics of working with good people and actors and puppets. It was kind of like going back to why I liked making movies.”
The sequel to Beetlejuice, which stars Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Jenna Ortega, and Willem Dafoe, was almost through filming, according to Burton, when the strikes were announced. Once the strikes are over, he hopes to complete.
“I feel grateful we got what we got. Literally, it was a day and a half,” he says of the film, which will be released on September 6, 2024. “We know what we have to do. It is 99 percent done.”