The Netflix of AI? – Fable’s Showrunner Platform Lets Users Create Custom Episodes

The Netflix of AI? – Fable's Showrunner Platform Lets Users Create Custom Episodes

We write a lot about artificial intelligence in terms of tools that can simplify or enhance different filmmaking workflows. You know, all those automated captions, Magic Mask, image generators for mood boards, and so on. But what if AI could take over the whole production process and let viewers become showrunners with just a few clicks? That’s what Fable’s streaming platform “Showrunner” promises to achieve. How, why, and with what possible consequences? Let’s find out together.

Have you seen the “Black Mirror” episode from the latest season, where the protagonist decides to watch a streaming show with her boyfriend and finds one about her own life, titled “Joan is Awful”? Yet Salma Hayek depicts only her bad character traits, and Joan gets mad. That’s one of the AI development nightmares I can imagine. Another one is when everybody starts generating films and series in several clicks, without any restrictions, regulations, or human creators behind them. Are we heading in this direction already? Then stop this train, please; I’m getting off!

How does Fable’s Showrunner streaming platform work?

Fable Studio is a generative AI video startup that received huge attention last year. The company released a research paper showcasing their approach to “generating high-quality episodic content“ using AI in the middle of the joint strike of Hollywood actors and writers. The tech presented could write, direct, edit, voice, and animate entire shows. As an example, developers released nine short AI-generated episodes of “South Park” (with a remark that this famous cartoon show was used for research only).

It seemed a success, so Fable decided to take this research even further and, roughly a year later, launched a streaming platform called “Showrunner.” This service allegedly allows users to generate custom animated full-length episodes from text descriptions (by stitching several scenes together), with control over dialogue, characters, and scene flow.

Generating TV shows at home should be as simple as browsing Netflix. The Netflix of AI isn’t about passive entertainment: it’s two-way: Make and Watch. Who will make the best episodes of shows? A fan with no access to Hollywood or the creator of the show? Let’s find out!

A quote from Fable’s X channel

Some shows are already up and running

At the moment, “Showrunner” features eight AI-generated shows on their platform. All of them are animated, but the genres range from horror anime “Ikiru Shiny” to a heartwarming drama about AI-enabled devices called “Pixels.” The service is not open to the public yet, but anyone can sign up on a waitlist to test it for free.

Fable's showrunner
Image source: “Showrunner” webpage

The idea behind “Showrunner” is that users will create their own content for existing shows whenever they run out of episodes. According to the announcement, the best entries will be included in the official catalog. The platform also allows uploading yourself and your friends and using them as characters in the shared universe Sim Francisco, where several shows take place.

That’s not the only plan, though.

After the South Park episodes, almost every studio in Hollywood reached out – and we’re exploring with them this idea of interactive TV shows, where fans can make new episodes with revenue back to the original creators.

A quote from Fable’s X channel

The money question in Fable’s streaming platform

There are no concrete plans or announcements on collaborations with Hollywood studios so far. But for active users, whose generated episodes will be picked up by an AI streamer, developers promise remuneration and revenue sharing.

The bigger question in this regard is our classic one. What content did Fable’s simulation learn from?

CEO Edward Saatchi said in one interview that the system is trained on “publicly available data.” Not elaborating on what kind of data, he added: “What matters to me is whether the output is original.“ I’m not sure this is how things are going to work for generative AI in the future, though.

What about the future?

A testing version of “Showrunner” is said to run until the end of the year. At the moment, Fable’s AI doesn’t have the capability to create live-action scenes and is limited to generating animations. However, as we observe other AI video generators evolve, it is likely that Fable Studios will take this course as well.

For a lot of creators, “Showrunner” is a manifestation of their anxiety over AI: Will it replace us all in the long run? For now, it seems impossible. But what if Hollywood studios hand over beloved shows to the audience? Isn’t it what they want: leverage the budgets by giving creative tasks to AI instead of paying human artists? Topics that raise concern.

What about you? How do you feel about Fable’s streaming platform “Showrunner”? Would you like to try it? Or is it rather a fulfilled nightmare for you? What positive and negative effects could it imply in our industry? Let’s talk in the comments below!

Feature image source: Fable Simulation’s X account.

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