AI has made plenty of artists mad for allowing just about anyone to generate art with relatively little effort, and Netflix seemingly wants to be part of that growing controversy. The world’s leading streamer recently launched a new anime short called the Dog & The Boy, and while the content seems innocent enough (robot dog with boy), it’s drawn a lot of controversy because it uses AI-generated artwork for its backgrounds. Netflix says that it decided to try AI because of a labor shortage in the anime industry.
From a Netflix Japan post (machine translation):
On January 31, Netflix Anime Creators Base (hereafter, Creators Base), rinna, and WIT STUDIO released the joint project animation “Dog and Boy”. In this project, which started in January 2022, we also challenged the joint development of animation background image generation tools in parallel with animation production. We experimented to see if the latest technology could be used to assist anime background art production.
Since its opening in September 2021, Creators Base has searched for best practices in the production process with various partners in order to support animation production in the long term. This project was carried out experimentally as part of that effort.
From a Vice report:
The tweet drew instant criticism and outrage from commenters who felt that Netflix was using AI to avoid paying human artists. This has been a central tension since image-generation AI took off last year, as many artists see the tools as unethical—due to being trained on masses of human-made art scraped from the internet—and cudgels to further cut costs and devalue workers. Netflix Japan’s claim that the AI was used to fill a supposed labor gap hit the bullseye on these widespread concerns.
Netflix アニメ・クリエイターズ・ベース×技術開発のrinna株式会社×WIT STUDIOによる共同プロジェクトアニメ『犬と少年』のショートムービー。— Netflix Japan | ネットフリックス (@NetflixJP) January 31, 2023