Fable, a tech startup hailing from San Francisco, launched its Showrunner AI platform, known as SHOW-1, just a month ago.
This cutting-edge technology can autonomously craft new episodes of television shows, casting you in the starring role. The release comes as a significant advancement in generative AI, and its timing is particularly intriguing given the ongoing strikes among Hollywood writers and actors.
Fable won awards with SHOW-1
Fable, already distinguished by two Emmys and a Peabody award, has published a research paper that delves into the capabilities of its Showrunner AI. These artificial intelligence agents are not mere scriptwriters; they are multi-talented virtual producers capable of writing, directing, casting, editing, voicing, and animating entire TV episodes.
“What the AI Showrunner does is create episodes of South Park for you. All of this is created by the AI Showrunner,” Fable CEO Edward Saatchi told GamesBeat. The technology is so advanced that users can either let the AI Showrunner autonomously generate episodes or input a two-sentence prompt to guide the episode’s creation. Contrary to skeptics who claim AI can’t craft compelling narratives, Saatchi asserts:
“Not just the dialogue. It animates, it does the voices, it does the editing. For the TV episodes, AI Showrunner can just generate episodes, or the user can create a prompt and create TV episodes based on a two-sentence prompt. People said AI can’t tell a story. Well, it can.”
What is the South Park AI?
Showrunner AI (or the so-called South Park AI), developed on the SHOW-1 model, is a specialized tool capable of generating every component of a TV episode in real-time. The unique feature here is the showrunner agents—individual AI instances that perceive themselves as characters within the show. These agents interact dynamically, generating dialogue based on the most recent lines spoken by other characters.
According to the search paper released by Fable Studios:
The “South Park AI” research project is an experimental, non-commercial endeavor aimed at exploring the potential of artificial intelligence, voice synthesis, and deep learning technologies to recreate the images and voices of “South Park.” The Project is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or connected in any way to the creators, producers, or copyright holders of “South Park,” the Cast, or any related parties. All intellectual property rights, trademarks, and copyrights associated with “South Park” remain the exclusive property of their respective owners.
How does Showrunner AI work?
Built on the SHOW-1 model, Showrunner AI is a specialized tool from Fable Studios that can autonomously generate all facets of a TV show in real-time. The characters in these shows are portrayed by what are known as showrunner agents. These are individual AI instances that consider themselves to be actual characters, creating their own dialogue based on the latest lines from other agents in the show.
To achieve this level of real-time simulation, Fable Studios employs diffusion models. These models introduce and remove random noise from the data in a step-by-step manner until the final output is realized. This technique allows for the generation of real-time backgrounds that adapt to the unfolding storyline, which is not pre-scripted.
The technology also incorporates voice cloning to render realistic human speech from the AI-generated dialogue. The art style is particularly conducive to real-time generation, utilizing 2D assets, block color fills, and minimal lighting. While the transition to high-quality 3D assets is technically feasible, it would necessitate faster and, consequently, more costly processing.
New avenues ahead
It’s clear that AI has become an integral part of our lives, whether we’re conscious of it or not. While debates about the organic nature of AI-generated content or the potential obsolescence of traditional TV are valid, it’s important to focus on the brighter aspects of this technological evolution.
Far from stifling creativity, AI technologies like Fable’s Showrunner AI and ChatGPT are opening new avenues for storytelling and production. They offer a glimpse into a future where humans and machines collaborate to push the boundaries of what’s possible in entertainment and beyond.
Rather than seeing AI as a threat to human ingenuity, we can view it as a tool that amplifies our creative potential, offering exciting possibilities that we are only just beginning to explore.
Did South Park ever use AI in an episode?
Indeed, the creators of South Park have touched upon the growing influence of artificial intelligence in society more than once. This is a highly relevant subject for a show that could, in the near future, be fully automated if the producers decide to go that route.
Did a chatbot ever contribute to a South Park episode?
The answer is yes. ChatGPT had a role in crafting an episode of South Park, specifically Season 26 Episode 4. In this installment, students are seen using the chatbot to compose essays and send text messages. But this isn’t just a clever plot device; the episode’s ending credits clearly state that it was co-written by South Park creator Trey Parker and ChatGPT.
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Is AI taking away jobs in the entertainment industry?
While AI technologies like South Park AI have the capability to automate various aspects of TV production, they are currently viewed as tools that can assist and augment human creativity rather than replace it. The technology opens up new possibilities for storytelling and can fill gaps in production, especially during times like strikes. However, the nuanced skills of human writers, actors, and directors remain irreplaceable for creating deeply emotional and complex narratives. AI is more of a collaborative partner than a replacement.
Featured image credit: Kerem Gülen/Midjourney