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May 5, 2023 11:43 AM PDT

Will AI video kill the radio star? Judging from the surge of artificial intelligence–generated beer commercials and “Star Wars”–themed Wes Anderson trailers popping up on social feeds this week, it just might.

The AI video onslaught began officially in late March, when Runway, an AI startup newly valued at $1.5 billion, announced its Gen 2 program. While the company’s Gen 1 software lets customers use AI tools to modify their existing video footage, transforming videos into anything from watercolor paintings to claymation, Gen 2 can turn a text prompt into a brief, AI-generated moving clip. Even though it’s only available to beta users by invitation, Gen 2 has spawned a new type of viral content, inspiring everything from anime films to superhero cooking battles.

There is a lot of work to be done here; as editors point out, the current batch of AI videos mostly has a surrealist, oversaturated quality akin to Soundgarden’s retina-burning “Black Hole Sun” music video. And some AI videos—like the beer commercial—have gone viral not for their uncanny realness, but for the disturbing ways AI represents “reality.” Gen 2, currently accessible only in Runway’s Discord channel, lets users create 4-second clips, which is why so many of these viral moments are pegged as “trailers” or “commercials”—the artists have to smash together a multitude of tiny moments.

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