Is AI the solution for your next production? Ask yourself these questions first.

Written by
redpepper Staff
redpepper Staff
multiple authors
Updated on
June 5, 2024 12:02 PM
AI is a powerful tool that can be leveraged in the production process—here are a few questions to consider when exploring whether AI is right for your next project.

At redpepper, we've found that AI can be a valuable tool in campaign production, offering flexibility and cost-efficiency—but it's essential to understand when and how to leverage AI effectively. Here are some critical questions to consider as you explore integrating AI into your brand’s creative executions.

1. Is your campaign concept limited by budget?

When we conceptualized the "Safety First'' campaign for Varonis, we needed ten unique setups to bring the idea to life. Our production director advised us on the scope of the shoot, but it became clear that the cost would go over the client's budget. This would usually mean scrapping the idea—instead, we were able to use AI as an alternative way to produce the images without breaking the bank.

And although AI may only get you 80-90% of what you’re looking for, it can remove the need to travel to different locations, gather props, pivot for weather, or hire resources like animal handlers or craft services. Often, those savings may tip the scales in favor of AI. 

2. Does this campaign require motion or video?

AI tools are great for adding movement to static images. We’ve used AI to add simple motion into graphics, like with Joey the alpaca shown below. 

GIF of an alpaca with sunglasses

And while AI currently falls a little short for full-scale video production, Image-to-Video or Text-to-Video AI tools like RunwayML’s Gen-2 and Pika are able to bring concepts to life with subtle or guided movement in up to 16-second generated clips. You can then combine these clips together with traditional video editing tools. And for higher quality video, there are tools like Topaz AI that will upscale a video to 4K. However, the controls are fairly limited and trying to dial in an exact movement or composition could be more trouble than it’s worth.

3. What is the shelf life of your campaign?

AI is a great option for quick-turn campaigns that last through a season or quarter, and it can allow you to take advantage of a trend without making a huge investment. However, for evergreen campaigns or those with long-term prospects, traditional methods might be more reliable. AI-generated content can be unpredictable, making it challenging to maintain consistency over extended periods.

4. Which is more important: speed or control?

With AI, you can’t really have high levels of both. There's an inverse relationship between the two. AI can get you 80-90% there FAST, but you could spend a lot more time attempting to dial in that last 10-20% with no guarantees you will reach your ideal vision.

Plus, the more detailed the prompt, the harder it is to dial in any one of the aspects. So for our work with Varonis, we did a layered approach, rendering out a foreground object and background object separately. This was especially helpful when our compositions width and heights changed for various banner ad sizes, because it allowed us to reconfigure the composition placement to what felt best for the ad space.

If your campaign demands high precision and strict adherence to guidelines, AI might not be the best choice or you may need to spend a little more time with it. But if speed is the name of the game, AI can be a big help with moving things along quickly.

5. How much uncertainty can you handle?

When leveraging AI, we can start with clear creative briefs and sketches. But sometimes we’ll need to pivot as we discover what AI can and cannot do. If your team is flexible and able to switch directions easily, AI might be a good fit. But if your process requires strict adherence to predefined plans, you may want to choose another route to avoid the unwanted variability.

6. Do you need a trademark?

Creating something completely ownable and proprietary with AI is possible but not guaranteed. While any AI-generated content we create would be unique and yours to keep, it cannot be trademarked in the same way as custom photography or stock images with guaranteed usage rights. If owning a trademark is crucial for your campaign, that’s important to consider.

7. How strict are your brand standards?

AI has its limitations—especially when it comes to adhering to strict brand standards. While post-production can help align AI-generated content with your brand's aesthetic, if your standards are highly detailed regarding lighting, talent, and other factors, traditional production might be more suitable.

For example when working with CESAR and SHEBA, we chose to go with traditional production in order to ensure we could bring the clients’ brand elements into every shot. This included intentionally colored props in the CESAR shoot and casting the perfect Russian Blue cat (with piercing blue eyes) for SHEBA.

Photo of a Westie dog taken during Cesar production shoot

Russian Blue cat featured in Sheba production shoot

8. Do you sell a product or a service?

Precision is key in product photography, and AI doesn’t have the same level of reliability as a photographer. For service-based campaigns, where conceptual visuals are often more abstract, AI can be a helpful tool. For product-centric campaigns, photography can be the best way to ensure your product is accurately represented.

For example, when launching a new DTC product for Mars, part of our shot list included photographing the product's packaging, which hadn’t even hit the market. Accuracy was key here, so we leveraged an in-studio photoshoot with our production team. However, when working with B2B companies like Varonis, we’ve had a lot of success leveraging AI to bring to life brand characters, elements, and conceptual visuals.

PS: there may come a time when brands will want to invest in AI to create 3D renderings of your product photography. This could mean creating an AI model of your product that can be digitally manipulated through virtual photoshoots—complete with 3D scenes and AI text prompts instead of real sets and physical art direction.

9. How collaborative and accessible is your team?

“Make the Alpaca fluffier!!” AI-driven projects benefit from close collaboration and quick iteration. If your team can engage actively and provide timely feedback to dial in on aspects of the style of photography or images, you can leverage AI's speed and flexibility. When clients can jump in and iterate with us as we go, it’ll ensure the final output meets expectations.

Our philosophy with AI is “Generate a lot! Throw away a lot!” We’ll put everything rendered (good or bad) into a place where the team can browse and leave comments. The fun part of AI is that sometimes you get some happy accidents (Bob Ross™) that get your mind going in entirely different conceptual directions. For example, we asked DALL-E 3 for a logo for an alpaca named Joey and it spit out the word “JOEY” in an alpaca hair typeface. This led us to one concept idea in which we placed an alpaca in different poses as the characters for the logo. Lightbulb moment sparked courtesy of AI.

AI-generated logo for Joey in alpaca-hair typeface

10. What are your approval processes like?

Strict approval processes can slow down AI-driven projects, which thrive on rapid iteration and flexibility. If your organization has a lengthy chain of command for approvals, AI won’t be the right option.

AI brings lots of exciting possibilities, but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. These questions can help you better determine whether AI aligns with your campaign's needs and constraints. At redpepper, we're here to help you navigate these decisions, ensuring you leverage the right tools for maximum impact.

All in all, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to the decision to leverage AI. Want to chat about whether it’s the call for your next campaign? Drop us a line. 

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