Today, we are producing more visual content than ever before. However, even more content will reach our digital platforms thanks to the development of generative media.
Every day, billions of images are uploaded on social media platforms, competing for our attention. It is estimated that only on Instagram, 95 million photos and videos are shared on a daily basis. Since its initial release in 2010 over 40 billion photographs have been uploaded on the social network.
The circulation of such a huge amount of visual content means that quality alone is no longer enough for companies that want to establish a strong presence online. Producing new, attractive, and engaging content regularly has become essential in order to be seen online. However, creating high-quality content with traditional means can be extremely expensive and few companies can afford to have a team of creators crafting content regularly. Technology offers a solution: generative media.
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What is generative media?
Quite simply, generative media is a piece of content – an image, a video, or even music and text – produced by a computer with the support of artificial intelligence (AI). By creating an algorithm a programmer can instruct the machine to create new and unique content with one single click.
While a human artist tends to spend many hours, or even days, developing ideas and refining their work, computers can create thousands of new pieces of work in a matter of seconds. Often, generative media requires some post-production or the adjustment of the parameters in the algorithm to reach desired results. In a sense, it can be seen as a collaboration between humans and machines that can drastically reduce the amount of time spent designing new visuals.
The best example of how generated media works can be seen in Generated Photos, a US startup that offers millions of AI-produced realistic portraits for commercial use. Many companies are often looking for unique models to use on their websites to give a human touch to their brand image, but hiring models and photographers requires high budgets and stock photos lack originality. Generated Photos caters to this market, producing realistic photos of people that don’t actually exist through machine learning, combining images from a dataset of thousands of images captured and fed to the algorithm.
A brief history of generative art
While things are changing rapidly because of the improvement of machine learning techniques, generative art is nothing new. Artists have been experimenting with machine-made works for at least half a century. Already in the 1950s, Austrian scientist Herbert Franke conducted unique photographic experiments in his laboratory, creating a series of analog photographs using a friend’s computer, to capture the light while moving the camera through an oscilloscope.
Another famous artist considered among the first to work with generative media is British painter Harold Cohen, who created AARON, a computer program designed to produce art autonomously. Cohen designed a series of robots to generate paintings in the 1960s, attracting much attention from international art institutions, including the TATE Modern in London.
French artist Vera Molnár played with the theme of “disorder,” investigating variations in geometric shapes and lines using a computer algorithm based on early Fortran and BASIC programming languages.
With the proliferation of computers in the 1960s, more artists began experimenting at the intersection of computer science and art to create generative works. New programming languages allowed artists to push digital boundaries in interesting ways and redefine how computers could process raw data to produce unique works of art.
It’s not only about image creations but branding with algorithms
Companies are increasingly relying on generative media to build their presence online and this trend is expected to grow in the future. According to Intrado, the global generative design market will reach USD 397.49 million by 2025. Today large companies such as Under Armour, Airbus, and Stanley Black & Decker are already developing AI solutions to solve design issues.
Generative media is not only about creating innovative artworks – it can be a useful tool to build a brand and communicate a company’s values by improving users’ experiences. Algorithmic art can help, for example, in making audiovisual content more dynamic by automatically changing backgrounds, decorative patterns in images, as well as sounds, voices, and videos. This is all possible without the need of a designer – the algorithm does it for you.
Generative media has massive potential when it comes to the production of content for businesses. Such technologies promise to accelerate creative processes and introduce new methods of communication, blurring the lines between what is real and what isn’t.
Generative design and brand identity: build engaging brand experiences
How to build great user experiences with generative media? Many companies in recent years have appeared catering for the growing demand for AI-generated content. One example is Synthesia, a video production company that does not use cameras, microphones, or actors. All the content is generated by an algorithm. This makes it possible to create realistic presentation videos to showcase a project with a few clicks. All you need to create an AI-generated video is a text script to upload on the platform and the algorithm will do the rest.
Synthesia’s most popular campaign portrayed David Beckham speaking 9 different languages to raise awareness about malaria, one of the world’s deadliest diseases. The video was seen 800 million times and was featured by major media outlets, winning the Social Good Use Of AI Award in 2019.
Another important startup in the generative media sector is Rosebud.ai, specialized in creating talking models for video advertising campaigns. Rosebud allows you to produce a video with an AI-generated model designed specifically for your target audience to speak about your company or product. According to Rosebud, such AI-generated models demonstrate a 22% increase in click-through rate.
Last but not least is influencer marketing on social media. According to Harvard, the influencer commerce sector is expected to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022. More and more creators are attempting to conquer a piece of the pie, but it’s not just human influencers that are sharing their suggestions nowadays, also computer-generated influencers setting trends on Instagram. One of the best-known examples of this trend is computer generated influencer LilMiquela, created by Los Angeles-based tech company Brud, who has reached over three million followers. She even collaborated with brands such as Prada and Samsung.
Ready for a new era of content creation?
As we’ve seen in this article, generative media is opening up many opportunities for businesses looking for new ways to communicate with their audience. Computer-generated content offers many advantages: it’s fast, cheap, and original. While the eye and skill of a designer is still extremely valuable, technology can help expand your creative horizons, especially if you are on a tight budget and want to compete in a market that is getting more crowded by the day.
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