AI Film

Fundamentals Of Transportation and the AI Machine

“Fundamentals Of Transportation” and the AI Machine

An AI short film by Robert Caruso

Since the AI machine is hurtling towards us like a runaway freight train, I decided rather than stepping out of the way I should wave my arms around then leap onto the passing metal hulk. Part of that involves spending time shoveling coal into the thing (via my credit card), spinning the various prompting dials, and embracing the artificial muck.

We live in interesting times. On the one hand text to video is astonishing, utter magic, and oh so delightful. Rendering lovely photo real versions of our every whim. On the other hand it’s frightening and reality-altering in a way I never thought possible.

Filmmaking is a technical art form composed of mechanical and electronic bits and pieces – oh, and human beings too. But it’s the tech that make it possible to capture light and shadow, carve and shape the many pieces into a film. And so I see AI as another piece of tech that will now be shaping our industry. Or it’s a new, mysterious crew member who suddenly appears on set. No one seems to know who this person is, but its clear by their astonishing reach, influence and conspicuous arrival they’re gonna kick up some dust and be here a while.

That’s a long preamble to T-up my short film “Fundamentals Of Transportation”. A deep dive into the themes of transportation: physical, mental, mechanical, emotional, and musical. I improvised / conjured a host for the film, a fictional character known as Uncle Wonkles. A man who thinks deeply about these themes, asking us to notice how we are moving through this world, how even music can transport us and be a “salve for the soul”.  Wonkles even shares some of his singing along the way. His exploration of the transportation themes is at the heart of the film, the intimate and very human piece. The images however are entirely artificial, some might say intelligent, but, I dunno, that might be giving the AI machine too much credit. No question its smart, but what is intelligence after all? “The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”? Well, I guess that’s what’s happening. Needless to say it is intensely provocative and oddly compelling. 

I use the word “machine” here as I can’t really identify what’s happening when I enter a prompt and watch this newfangled tool render out an impressive puppy or a floating chicken. Machines help us make things, so there you are, as good a word as any to describe something inexplicable that spits out video widgets. But this device has no gears or belts, no reassuring whirring sound. Instant gratification is just a clever prompt and keystroke away with the magic happening on a sever somewhere in Bangalore.

This new tech is fledgling. Its exploded into our lives, suddenly capable of so much. But what I’m finding most exciting visually are the problems in these images, the folding legs, twisting heads, floaty squid like fingers. These “mistakes” are the machine’s baby steps, not fully formed as AI is still a little soft at the top of the skull, unable to fully express itself. Funny thing is, I already have a nostalgia for the mistakes. I know soon they will no longer exist. The makers will repair the frayed edges, the harmless hallucinations, the broken bits and homogenize. They will round too many corners and give us images that are utterly clean and “perfect”. I anticipate a cottage industry will soon appear, selling filters and plug-ins to create the vintage “2024” version of these tools. That’s gonna be the cool stuff one day.

The film started as an improvisation as I channeled the character of Uncle Wonkles and recorded my voice and some singing into my iPhone for a couple hours. The next two weeks were spent assembling hundreds of AI shots from the platform, Runway AI. Next was treating the footage so that it had a more mysterious, filmic look, pulling out the color, adding grain, film debris etc. The score was sourced through the stock music library Artlist. I hope you enjoy your transportation journey as much as I have. (Note, this film does include some silliness).

Thanks for your audience.

  • Robert Caruso



Fundamentals Of Transportation

An AI generated film exploring the fundamentals of transportation.
AI Image Generator, Runway
Writer, Director, Voice: Robert Caruso