I remember filming a talk by a technology expert a decade ago, who mentioned that the graph illustrating the exponential growth of AI was essentially vertical. Over the past few years, AI applications have exploded into every industry sector, including film, television and video production.
One such application is the use of AI-generated, virtual presenters in business video presentations, where avatars automatically voiceover and lip sync to your script. Indeed, the scripts themselves can be written through AI text generation applications. You can include music, company graphics, presentation slides and video footage, either in the background or edited over the avatar. They are incredibly powerful and useful tools for businesses of all sizes, but, although they offer many benefits, it is essential to recognise the limitations of and drawbacks with this technology.
I should make it clear at this point that, as a professional video producer, I do not intend to dismiss AI video presentations in this article. On the contrary, I am aware of the benefits they offer and, at the risk of doing myself out of work, may even recommend them to clients in certain circumstances. However, there are several elements to be conscious and wary of when considering AI presenters for your business videos, as they are not the best choice in every situation.
Perhaps the biggest element to bear in mind, is the lack of the personal touch. AI applications are continually advancing and many of the avatar presenter movements, and much of the voiceover intonation may appear smooth, initially. However, audiences are shrewd enough to be able to spot the lack of emotion in both the facial expressions and vocal tones. Voices and movements often seem robotic, which can massively affect the viewer’s engagement with the subject. Human presenters and voiceover artists will always be able to introduce more appropriate emotion, movement and tone into a piece than an AI avatar. As I have said many times in previous articles, never forget your audience and the purpose of your video. What may work as a quick, simple sales tool may not work as a rallying cry to employees and investors, or emotional call to action to clients.
Viewers will also be aware that avatars can and will be used by multiple companies and, as such, will not be unique, stand out from the rest or have any emotional link to the business they are presenting. They can be a perfect tool for presenting factual information to anonymous audiences, but viewers will always react better to CEOs, managers and employees from within the company. The information will be instantly more believable and engaging from a familiar person.
The biggest benefit of the AI option is the seemingly endless choices when putting together your video. You can choose presenters of any gender or ethnic background, female or male voiceovers of any age and a variety of background images, all of which can be changed and re-edited at any time in the future. You can even produce the same video in several languages, and the avatars’ mouths and facial muscles will move in sync with each language. If you consider that a presenter of a specific ethnicity is required for certain markets or regions, this too can be changed simply and cheaply without the need to film a new, professional presenter at a potentially high price each time. When you consider the logistics and cost in producing a similar number of videos in different languages for global markets using conventional video production, the benefits of AI presentations speak for themselves.
There is no doubt that AI presented videos are extremely cost effective. A lot of the creation can be done in-house, from script generation to choosing presenters, graphics, music and other background imagery. For simple, quick presentations, the results will be surprisingly adequate, particularly when you may not have the budget for such videos.
However, there is an inherent danger in thinking we can do everything ourselves. If I was a skilled bricklayer, no doubt I could build some strong walls, but I wouldn’t take on the construction of an entire house. Plumbing, gas fitting, electrical installation, plastering and carpentry are different skills, built up from years of training, experience and knowledge. AI can produce passable results, but the fine tuning and creative input is best left to the professionals.
The final point worth mentioning is the effect these AI applications have on professional providers in the video and film industry. As I write this article, Hollywood actors and screenwriters are on strike, in part due to the potential threat from AI to their careers and earnings. The avatars used by AI apps are created using real actors and artists. Many will have been paid a one-off fee for the use of their image in perpetuity. Not only do they lose out on the royalties they should be paid, but it also drives down wages for other actors. Writers, too, are worried that scripts and other articles will be undertaken by businesses, directors and clients themselves, leading to a drop in wages and, perhaps more importantly, artistic quality.
In summary, AI presenter applications are a perfect choice for quick, no-budget update videos delivered by multiple presenters in multiple languages … but there is no substitute for the human touch, in terms of creativity and connecting personally and emotionally with your audience. Employ them sparingly to show that you are current and have knowledge of recent trends, but don’t forget that many other companies will also be using them and there is a danger that, if overused, companies will all begin to look very similar in terms of their video content. Consider carefully where to use them to greatest effect, always ask advice from a video expert and always, always go with the bespoke, professional, personal option for your important marketing video content.