Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 135: Let's create some Ed Wood fan art with AI

An image that unites Wood, Spielberg, and Kubrick.

If you've been conscious for the last year or so, you've probably seen a lot of art (or "art," depending on your point of view) that has been created (or "created") by artificial intelligence or AI. Look, I'm not here to debate the ethics of AI or even define what is and isn't art. I'm here to take this awe-inspiring and terrifying newish technology and apply it to Edward D. Wood, Jr. 

I've done this kind of thing before. Back in 2019, I ran some screenshots from Jail Bait through a colorization app. In 2020, I used a site called Preference Revealer to rank my favorite and least favorite Ed Wood movies. Now it's 2022 and AI art is the hot thing, so let's do some of that... with Ed Wood.

I chose a service called Midjourney to do this project. Why? Because I'd seen it in this video by a YouTuber called Mighty Jabba and thought the results looked cool. Very quickly, though, I realized I was in over my head. I don't know a damn thing about how to generate AI art. My first prompt was: "Ed Wood as drawn by Al Hirschfeld." (I assume you know who Al was.) Here are the results:

Prompt #1: "Ed Wood as drawn by Al Hirschfeld"

I'd say that falls somewhere between success and failure. It's not Hirschfeld, but it's not not Hirschfeld either. My second attempt at a prompt was: "Ed Wood made out of Legos." Here's how that turned out:

Prompt #2: "Ed Wood made of Legos."

I don't know what's happening with the top left image, but the other three are at least in the ballpark. I then went on to Wood's repertory players. Folks, I tried and tried to get Midjourney to generate some Tor Johnson fan art, but that stupid computer had no idea who Tor was. None of the artwork even came close. So I ditched Tor in favor of Vampira. More specifically, I tried "Vampira on the beach at night." Even Midjourney knew who Vampira was, and it dutifully belched up these lovely images:

Prompt #3: "Vampira on the beach at night."

What else? What else? Oh yeah. I tried "Elderly Bela Lugosi in the style of the French impressionists." 

Prompt #4: "Elderly Bela Lugosi in the style of the French impressionists."

And I brought it all home with one last, simple prompt: "Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi holding hands."

Prompt #5: "Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi holding hands."

At that point, I realized I had enough for a single blog post and ended my experiment. How did I do? Good? Bad? Indifferent? You probably think you could do better, and I agree. In fact, I urge you to go do just that. There are plenty of AI art sites out there. Make your own stuff. Or, more accurately, get a computer to make stuff for you. You don't have to use Midjourney. Are we at the beginning of a new era in creativity or is this just some dumb internet fad that'll fade in a year? Time will tell.