What is AI Filmmaking?
AI Filmmaking represents a revolutionary approach to creating films, leveraging artificial intelligence to automate and enhance various aspects of the production process. Mainly this includes generating stunning cinematic images from mere prompted words. Styles of images are limited only by the imagination and can run the gamut from 1950s noir to modern day Pixar animation and everything in between. AI Filmmaking techniques promise to transform how stories are thought of, created, and told, democratizing what once were sophisticated filmmaking methods for a wider audience adoption.
What AI Filmmaking is not is a simple method for typing a prompt and receiving a complete movie. AI Filmmaking is difficult work in its own way and takes a skilled approach (plus a lot of patience) to achieve the fantastical results you may have seen across the internet.
Table of Contents
Who is Curious Refuge?
Curious Refuge stands at the forefront of online AI education for creative professionals. Founded by Caleb and Shelby Ward, Curious Refuge offers generative artificial intelligence courses in Filmmaking and Advertising designed with clear structure and confidence, tailored to both novices and experienced creators seeking to incorporate AI into their filmmaking repertoire. Having now been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, USA Today and other publications, Curious Refuge is a world-wide leader at the forefront of the AI Filmmaking movement.
Caleb is the filmmaking course instructor and is known for his extensive work in video education and content creation for platforms like School of Motion. His experience in online learning shines throughout the course, as seen in a well structured curriculum, downloadables, and easy-to-follow instruction.
The AI Filmmaking Course unfolds over four weeks, each packed with content ranging from industry overviews to hands-on projects. Below I’ll give a brief of each week, but note that aside from major platforms, I will not be linking to the tools the Curious Refuge course instructs you on. Personally, I see that a lot of the value that the course offers, aside from its instruction, is that it collects these tools into an easy to reference location that is hard come by anywhere else.
Week 1 – Filmmaking 101
Sets the foundation with an AI filmmaking industry overview, a film school crash that course Cal Arts would be proud of, and introductions to scriptwriting and pitch writing using Chat GPT. Midway through the week, a slow roll into setting up and using Midjourney for visuals begins, and the week culminates with ways to pitch film ideas to studios.
If you have previous experience with any of these tools or filmmaking in general, this week may feel slow, but to that end, the course covers all the bases so that novice and experienced users get elevated to the same level quickly.
Week 2 – Generating Cinematic Content
This is where the fun begins. Now the course dives into advanced Midjourney prompting, directing, and cinematography styles. You’ll learn methods for creating consistent faces, generating unheard voice-overs, cloning voices, and even a crash course in Premiere Pro. Already a Better Editor? Feel free to skip the Premiere portion.
As someone with a little prior experience playing with generative AI, what fascinated me most about this week is how concepts that had literally taken me reading multitudes of Medium blog posts and watching numerous YouTube tutorials to learn were succinctly collected and laid out in an organized package. Moreover, that organized package came with downloadable cheat sheet PDFs! More on those later.
Week 3 – Making Images Move
Now the focus shifts to upscaling imagery and adding camera movements using Runway and After Effects. Runway is used to create videos from static images (and much more). It’s a slider-friendly platform to begin with and Caleb walks you through his favorite settings – the same ones that helped propel his Wes Anderson Star Wars trailer to a viral sensation.
The course then looks into animating AI stills in a more classic way, using Photoshop and After Effects. For strangers of the programs, Caleb takes the time to teach a crash course in each. By the end of the week you’re knowledgeable enough in the Adobe programs to create basic visual effects and camera movements.
Week 4 – Advanced Techniques for Realism
If week 3 were the confetti cake, week 4 is the rainbow frosting. Having already learned the bulk of how to create an AI film, the course moves into how to set your film apart by making it as real as possible. This includes methods for lip syncing, object removal, and advanced face-swapping techniques. You’ll also dive back into After Effects to learn some more advanced animation and color compositing techniques.
At the end of each week, homework is assigned that’s meant to test you on the knowledge you’ve gained through the week. In every case, the assignments can take as little or as much time as you’d like and you’re not graded, per se. But so far as growing your skills are concerned, you very much get out of this course what you put into it. Once completed with each assignment, you’re asked to upload homework to a private Discord channel where feedback is given. Caleb regularly highlights some of the student’s best work on the Curious Refuge YouTube channel.
Overall Thoughts on the AI Filmmaking Course
This course is a deep dive into not only the integration of AI in filmmaking, but into filmmaking in general. Don’t understand how films are created and pitched to studios? This course has you covered. Need a basic understanding of modern filmmaking tools? Yup, it does that too.
Caleb offers a blend of theory, practical insights, and hands-on experience with expertise that shines through in the well-structured curriculum, making complex concepts approachable and engaging. If you’re on the fence, maybe consider this an investment in future-proofing your filmmaking skills.
An Additional Two-Cents
On a personal note, I don’t see myself diving heavily into AI Filmmaking anytime soon. Due to a lot of the waiting and guess and check methods involved in the process, I don’t find most of it enjoyable – yet. I am however thankful to now have an understanding of what tools are used and how to use them. Frankly, I now use generative fill techniques almost daily, which is a major change.
For much of 2023, when this paradigm shift began shifting its growing heft, I would find myself worried about the future of my career. Through Curious Refuge’s course and YouTube channel, I’ve come to realize that AI Filmmaking is simply a tool that’s going to enhance our creativity and jobs, so long as we learn how to use it. The Borg said it best, “assimilate or die”.
The course is priced at $749, which could be a large chunk to chew for many. Dollars also begin to add up with additional costs for tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney, Runway, ElevenLabs, and Topaz AI’s Photo AI 2 and Video AI 4, totaling a potential investment of around $1,294 (including the course fee). But that’s only if you use every tool that Caleb suggests. Caleb is very clear when other free options will suffice and notes that many of the tools are there to give you the best quality that you can get. So if you’re here to just learn how to make a good story, no need to splurge.
Keep in mind that many of these tools are subscription based, so the number above reflects a 1-month’s cost at base packages. More advanced packages are available for more features and higher price points. Also pricing for Adobe’s Creative Cloud products was not included – but hey, you’re here to make films, so you’ve likely got Adobe in your budget already.
Is the Cost Worth It?
Let’s be real – this is the question you came here looking to answer. What I will say is that this answer depends on many variables, but in my opinion, you do get what you pay for. Caleb continues to keep the course updated, which is available to students for a full year. The Curious Refuge team is also providing enhancements like a popping Discord community and even office hours and live streams to answer your burning AI questions.
As I’ve alluded to throughout this review, the #1 benefit to this course, in my opinion, is that it distills information and techniques that are scattered across the corners of the internet and packages them into an easy-to-digest platform that you can readily reference as you need. Caleb takes this a step further by doing much of the note taking for you. Most videos, especially those with a lot of technical information, are packaged with an accompanying, well formatted, PDF that are very much worth the price of admission.
Who is the AI Filmmaking Course For?
Bottom line – the Curious Refuge AI Filmmaking Course is ideal for filmmakers, content creators, and anyone intrigued by the intersection of artificial intelligence and creativity. This course suits a range of skill levels, from complete novice to seasoned professional. Whether you’re looking to streamline your production process, enhance your storytelling with AI, or simply want to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving landscape of digital media, Curious Refuge has created a shortcut to the future of cinema.