The movie trailer for “Genesis,” created with AI, is so convincing it caused a recent stir on Twitter. That’s how I found out about it. Created by Nicolas Neubert, a senior product designer who works for Elli by Volkswagen in Germany, the “Genesis” trailer promotes a dystopian sci-fi epic reminiscent of the Terminator. There is no movie, of course, only the trailer exists, but this is neither a gag nor a parody. It’s in a class of its own. Eerily made by man, but not.
I say “created with AI” and not “created by AI,” because it’s clear from this story that this is a new toolbox to give creative people like Neubert the means to produce commercial epics that may someday rival Hollywood, but the key elements: the concept, the story, the editing, the music, are still done by a person.
🎬 Trailer: Genesis (Midjourney + Runway)
We gave them everything.
Trusted them with our world.
To become enslaved – become hunted.
We have no choice.
Humanity must rise again to reclaim.
— Nicolas Neubert (@iamneubert) July 26, 2023
“Genesis” trailer images were done in Midjourney with limited animation and camera moves then added in Runway. The music is from Stringer_Bell via Pixabay.
I messaged Neubert on Twitter and a few hours later we met on Zoom. He’s a dedicated hobbyist who for the past year has spent more than a thousand hours creating upwards of 20,000 images on Midjourney.
Neubert was so overwhelmed with messages and questions about “Genesis” on Twitter he posted a lengthy description of his process and prompts. Here are some of the highlights.
🧪 The Making of "GENESIS" (Midjourney + Runway)
(Spoiler: This will be a very long post. However, it covers the whole process of how I created the trailer!)
Your support for this project has been outstanding! So many of you asked for a tutorial! As promised, here is a detailed… pic.twitter.com/TvOYiiOvGm
— Nicolas Neubert (@iamneubert) July 28, 2023
“The idea of the dystopian theme came from a series of three cinematics I shared last week,” Neubert begins. “I already had an excellent prompt foundation and decided to build a story on that.” His description of the process goes on in some detail, but two steps in particular caught my attention: the primacy of the music, and the sheer number of prompts it took to produce the shots Neubert needed. One of the key problems he faced was making sure the art direction, characters and lighting were consistent from shot to shot.
The soundtrack is critical. This was Neubert’s first artistic choice. He listened to the music repeatedly as he created images one at a time. Ultimately, Neubert says it took “seven hours, 316 prompts generated in Midjourney, 128 images upscaled in Midjourney, 310 videos generated in Runway, and one video generated with texta. A total of 44 videos were used in the trailer.” Total cost: $95 for Runway, and $30 Midjourney ($125).
“World-building and storytelling are the number one skills you should learn as a creative,” wrote Neubert. “With technology that allows everyone to generate high-quality content, the magic will happen through those who know how to stitch pieces together.”
“The trailer is excellent,” said Rony Abovitz, founder of Magic Leap who is now producing films with WETA through one of his new companies, Sun and Thunder. “There is no doubt in my mind that the future of film and world-building is about to change forever. Many new and amazing films and worlds will be created, and new voices will make things that normally needed hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of people to create. It will take a few years to tune and perfect – but I think by 2030 the film world is forever changed.”
Pixar’s first experiments with Luxo (now their famous lamp logo) in the mid-eighties were, like Neubert’s video, less than a minute long. Thirty years later, all Disney animated movies are computer animated. Where, indeed, is this going? The democratization of content production continues. Give Neubert 1,000 hours and next-gen tools like text-to-episode Gen AI Showrunner, and he could prompt the next Star Wars into existence from his apartment.
Charlie Fink is the author of the AR-enabled books “Metaverse,” (2017) and “Convergence” (2019). In the early 90s, Fink was EVP & COO of VR pioneer Virtual World Entertainment. He teaches at Chapman University in Orange, CA.