Brown Bag Films And 9 Story Launch Guidelines For AI Use In Their Productions

Irish-headquartered animation studio Brown Bag Films has publicly released its new internal guidelines for how it intends to work with artificial intelligence.

The studio provides service work on many American shows including Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues and You!, Netflix’s Ada Twist: Scientist, as well as Disney’s Doc McStuffins. With its parent company 9 Story Media Group, the studio also produces a number of co-productions and IP including Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Karma’s World, Lu and the Bally Bunch, and Dylan’s Playtime Adventures, among other titles.

While many animation producers are currently exploring AI and its application in the animation space, Brown Bag is among the first major producers, if not the very first, to offer any kind of transparency into their thinking and to explain their position on the technology. Alongside the release of the guidelines, which can be read in full HERE, they have emphasized a “human-first” position and emphasized that AI should be used to assist artists, not replace them.

Cathal Gaffney
Cathal Gaffney.

Speaking to Cartoon Brew, Cathal Gaffney, managing director of Brown Bag Films and chief operating officer of parent company 9 Story Media Group, said that the decision to release these guidelines was the company’s own initiative. “Everyone has different opinion on AI and how to use it in production,” he explained. “Even broadcasters and funding agencies are unclear on best practices for AI generated content, and in the absence of any obvious consensus, I thought it would be good to show our hand.”

Brown Bag has taken a strong stance against the use of current commercially available generative AI software. “We do a lot of service work and understandably, clients require ownership of the copyright in the work they commission,” Gaffney told Cartoon Brew. “As there is no copyright in anything ‘created’ by a computer, we felt it important to legislate internally how we would direct the technology. For instance Midjourney or DallE is generative AI trained on other peoples’ copyrighted material, so I believe using those tools on commissioned IP production is no different than using pirated software.”

The company also said that it will not use AI for scriptwriting or voice cloning for any broadcast tv commissions.

In lieu of any current industry standard about the usage of AI, Brown Bag and 9 Story had to create their guidelines from scratch. The company has spent the last year developing tools with its technology R&D team, Gaffney explained, “so we had a really strong sense of the possibilities of AI in production.”

The studio expects AI to assist workers in areas like predictive budgeting/scheduling, business service chatbots, animation clean-up, and lip sync. It believes that AI can be used as a productivity tool; it is best used to “assist our artists and is not here to replace talented artists and storytellers.”

Gaffney acknowledged that “in the medium-term AI will likely see some job displacement,” yet “it will also create new roles and functions.” He calls it part of the “technology cycle throughout history.” History bears out Gaffney’s view. With cg animation, there was initially great fear about computers replacing humans, yet the cg pipeline exponentially expanded the number of workers in the animation industry and there are far more production roles today in digital production than there were in the pre-digital era.

He added that the guidelines are an evolving work and that “we will adapt them as required and as the technology evolves.”

Gaffney believes that more transparency from other studios is essential in this new, uncharted era of the animation industry. “ I thought it was important to tell both our staff and our clients on how we intend to work with AI,” he said. “If this starts a more meaningful industry conversation on copyright and ethical issues, then that’s worthwhile. While others may not agree with my approach, I’d still encourage every studio and broadcaster/streamer to publish an AI policy, just as they publish their DEI or Environmental policy.”

Related Articles

Back to top button