There’s no doubt that we’re living in an explosion of nascent AI software. Whether it’s ChatGPT, which found viral buzz at the end of 2022, MidJourney, which creates AI images, or a host of other programs, Underknown is at the forefront of utilizing this promising new technology.
With content creation at the heart of Underknown’s mission to educate the world about science and the humanities, artificial intelligence offers the potential to make engaging content more efficiently. While these programs are all still in early stages, many teams at the company have found success in utilizing them.
Taylor Moyle, who was one of Underknown’s early employees in 2018 and now is a Senior Manager of Development, works on developing new brands and formats for Underknown. He first heard about different AI tools on Twitter and eventually started experimenting with them in his work. ChatGPT has proven to be one of the most useful tools for Taylor and his team, particularly in the brainstorming process.
Since you can essentially ask ChatGPT to answer or write anything you want, Taylor and his team now use ChatGPT to generate ideas as a jumping off point. “The stuff that comes from ChatGPT isn’t the final product obviously, but it’s something that is very inspiring and gets the creative juices flowing,” he says.
ChatGPT isn’t the only program that’s been useful for Taylor. He is working with another member of his team on making short-form content for Underknown’s Aperture brand. For these projects, Taylor has found success in the software Stable Diffusion which creates eye-catching video that is exactly what he’s looking for in these short-form videos.
On the other end of the content creation process, Rai Serrano works as Underknown’s Concept Art Director, primarily focusing on making effective thumbnails for all of the company’s digital content. Rai has been experimenting with the AI program Midjourney which not only makes his team work more efficiently, but also presents opportunities for new ideas.
Before Midjourney, Rai and the other Underknown artists worked primarily on Photoshop creatively layering stock images to create concept art. Midjourney allows them to create unique AI-generated images in seconds, import them into Photoshop and ultimately refine them into the thumbnail art that is used across all platforms. Artificial intelligence eliminates the often tedious first steps of image creation, cutting hours out of the time it takes to create the finished product. At a fast-paced, digital content company like Underknown, that time is valuable.
From a Midjourney-generated artwork to the final thumbnail. Check out the episode here.
Rai notes a common criticism of these visual AI programs is that they’re taking work away from artists. But Rai sees a program like Midjourney rather as a tool. “At the end, you are the artists,” he says. “Midjourney is just a tool to save time.” Additionally, sometimes Midjourney presents images that Rai or the other artists he works with would have never thought of and, often, is better than what was in their heads.
Of course, there are disadvantages to these new technologies. Both Rai and Taylor caution against any assumptions that what comes out of the AI program is ‘finished’. Rai feels that for artists, especially younger artists, it is important to be skilled enough to complete any of these projects on their own before using Midjourney to expedite the process.
Watch the episode here.
Similarly, Taylor is quick to note that it’s important to remember that ChatGPT can generate information that is boring, repetitive, or even false. He encourages his team and other writers at Underknown to use ChatGPT but to “take everything with a grain of salt”. Ultimately, it’s in the hands of the writers to figure out how they can use the software to be more creative and efficient.
AI programs hold a lot of promise for creative industries and creators like Taylor and Rai, but it is still very early days. Taylor sees opportunity for innovative teams and companies to fiddle around with a variety of programs to find out what can help improve workflow or spark new ideas. Rai sees these new programs being incorporated, officially or unofficially, into existing big industry programs like Photoshop. But what large scale adoption of AI software looks like remains to be seen.
For now, Underknown and its innovative employees remain at the forefront of creatively utilizing artificial intelligence to aid and improve its content creation. As the technology develops, the ways in which creators and artists use them will develop as well. “We just have to get used to these new technologies,” Rai says. “You can’t compete against them. They’re just tools.”