Episode 383 – AI Art is Taking Over


Episode 383 – AI Art is Taking Over

AI is exploding everywhere. There are so many technological innovations that use AI in visual effects. You might be already following the massive growth of AI. For VFX artists, the question is:

  • Is AI taking over the art world?
  • Will art be replaced by AI?
  • Are artists’ careers over?

In 2010, deep learning changed everything. AI became the revolutionary thing we can utilize. But the big part of preventing AI growth was processing power and storage. With technological innovations, we’re beginning to experience AI for the first time. How exciting it is to be alive right now! 

Machine learning is feeding machine information. With machine learning, the more AI gets corrected, the more it can learn on its own. The disadvantage is that it does take some hand holding to teach AI, in the beginning. There is different machine learning based on neural networks. It thinks similarly to the human brain, it analyzes every little detail. With deep learning, we tell what we want it to do – and the AI figures out how to get there on its own.

With AI, there is no emotion attached. It is able to fail at a quicker rate. For humans, it takes 10,000 to learn something. AI fails 15,000 times and tries again. It learns through trial and error. (Humans should welcome failure at a similar rate!) The gap happens when humans don’t understand how the neural network learns on its own. 

AI like DALL-E and Midjourney imitates the style of artists. Ethical AI is becoming a big topic of conversation. AI solutions learn through generative adversarial networks (GAN’s): In a way, it’s two AI’s learning against each other, giving each other feedback and evolving. But essentially, GAN’s create images from scratch. 

Right now, AI is able to replicate, but it’s not able to create on its own. It’s still more of a tool. VFX is driven by technology. There is a lot of fear that AI is going to take over. VFX artists are operators. The tools have simply become more intuitive. AI can be seen as something that breaks the barriers of resistance. It’s here to allow artists to do more, to be artists.

We are no longer talking about hypothetical applications. We cannot predict where AI is headed or where we’ll be in 10 years. The big question to ask is: WILL AI TAKE OUR JOBS? It is easy to react by being scared of AI. Or, you can choose to be inspired and evolve with it. Anyone who doesn’t embrace innovation becomes outdated. AI is just another tool, albeit a different tool from the tools in the past.

AI will replace some jobs, it’s true. But it will also create new jobs. The jobs that will be most affected are the beginning of a pipeline (ray tracing, camera tracking, etc). Our jobs, as artists, will change. We’ll just have more powerful tools to do more, while we can be artists. It’s up to you to learn the new technology and be at the forefront. It’s time to change our mindset from fearful to inspired!

With his 20+ years of experience as a VFX Supervisor, Allan McKay talks about the history, evolution and application of AI, gives an explanation of machine learning and deep learning, which jobs in the VFX pipeline will be replaced by AI – and why embracing and learning this powerful technology will serve you as a VFX artist.


Chris Ume talks about ethics of Deepfake technology: www.allanmckay.com/375

Interview with VR and MR Artist Patty Rangel: https://www.allanmckay.com/90/

Podcast with Senior Director of Software R&D and Digital Domain Doug Roble: https://www.allanmckay.com/290/



Hi, everyone! 

This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 383! I’m talking about AI and if Artificial Intelligence will take over our jobs. I also talk about what AI and neural networks are. I discuss: 

  • Definition and history of AI;
  • The types of AI: robotics, vision, expert systems, machine learning, etc;
  • Explanation of machine learning;
  • Definition of deep learning and how it learns;
  • How AI has freed VFX artists – to be actual artists;
  • Practical applications of AI;
  • Explanation of DALL-E and Midjourney AI;
  • Why embracing AI serves you as a VFX artist.

This is the final Episode for 2022. I’ve had lots of ups and downs, including having Bell’s Palsy for half a year. There were deaths in the family, a stressful job with difficult personalities. That says so much about how important health is.

Since then, I’ve taken on a full-time staff position. I wanted to plant my roots again. I’m now the Head of CG and a VFX Supervisor for Refuge VFX. I’m excited to work on some really amazing projects with talented artists. It’s going to be fun to end the year!

A lot of us have had a hard 2022. I’m flying to Australia for Christmas, to see my family. I hope everyone has had a successful year!

Right now, AI is a massive topic. It’s really exciting to see AI go from being theoretical to actually see it affect our lives.

Please take a moment to share this Episode with others. Your support means so much!

Let’s dive in!



[01:13]  Have you ever sent in your reel and wondered why you didn’t get the callback or what the reason was you didn’t get the job? Over the past 20 years of working for studios like ILM, Blur Studio, Ubisoft, I’ve built hundreds of teams and hired hundreds of artists — and reviewed thousands of reels! That’s why I decided to write The Ultimate Demo Reel Guide from the perspective of someone who actually does the hiring. You can get this book for free right now at www.allanmckay.com/myreel!

[1:04:18] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be charging. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com!


Okay, what did you think? I’d love to hear your feedback.

I want to wish everyone a safe and amazing Christmas and New Year’s! 

Until next week –

Rock on!

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