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Great Things Happen After Dark

Explore this HPA after-hours conversation that picked up when the day’s presentations ended

By Christine Purse

One of the most compelling discussions at the 2024 HPA Tech Retreat happened off stage with no audience present. After hours, while the room was being set for the next day’s sessions, a high powered insider conversation about AI sizzled, offering an in-depth exploration of the transformative role of artificial intelligence in media production.  

The industry luminaries who gathered included Christian Cantrell (Concept.art), Daniel Doll-Steinberg (Eden Base), Niko Pueringer (Corridor Digital), Tim Simmons (Theoretically Media), and Caleb & Shelby Ward (Curious Refuge.)  They pulled up chairs, and over a beer, joined the orchestrator of Tech Retreat After Dark, Seth Hallen (HPA; Light Iron) and shared their thoughts. The far ranging discussion offered an array of compelling observations and honest questions about where AI is going, where it’s taking us and where we will take it.

Take a look at the full conversation here.

The importance of creativity and the changing landscape of media creation and consumption was central to the conversation. Cantrell noted that his focus is clearly on “bringing real world value to storytelling. And, at the end of the day, storytelling is about humanity. And we are using something fundamentally inauthentic to say something authentic.Peuringer brought home the point that “getting too caught up in the process actually misses the point. People looking at art don’t do it to see something pretty, but rather something authentic.`  SImilarly, while exploring the changes in the industry in terms of content, Hallen believes that “storytelling is in our DNA.”

But there is no mistaking the move towards using powerful tools in content creation.  Data will continue to play a role, offering insights about what moves viewers. The team from Curious Refuge, Caleb and Shelby Ward,  discussed changing the opening of their  viral hit “Barbenheimer” when data showed a drop off. After a re-edit, the piece flew. Doll Steinberg sees the real impact of emerging technology not just by industry, but in the fundamental, ‘base layers’, of many industries.

Simmons brought up a theme that recurred during the discussion, that of the ‘watercooler moment.’ As distribution and consumption continues to be increasingly dispersed, the more important those watercooler moments become.  The shared experience of media, while perhaps changing into smaller or more segmented groups, remains important.

Pueringer notes that there is still the need for “amazing writers and directors and artists. The democratization of these tools will make filmmaking possible for a lot of different voices. But the ease of the technology does not make the artistic side easier. You still have to deliver the most hard hitting, emotional ideas. And that’s not easy.

Like any lively conversation among a group of interesting friends, a lot of ground was covered with different viewpoints and experiences on a topic that has far reaching implications and is evolving rapidly. It’s a rare opportunity to sit with these visionaries and listen to them consider topics that included AI, capitalism, the very start of hip hop, creativity, and the implications of powerful technology.

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