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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

The Age of AI and Our Human Future

Winner in Sound & Music


Schmidt Futures came to us with the idea of creating a video to accompany the launch of the book “The Age of AI and Our Human Future”, written by Eric Schmidt, Henry Kissinger and Daniel Huttenlocher. The objective was to get the ideas of the book out to a wider audience than would necessarily read the book itself. The subject matter at the time they approached us was only just beginning to enter the public realm, so the video needed to take big ideas including abstract philosophical questions and make them digestible and visually and auditorily interesting.

Strategy and Execution

We began this video on Artificial Intelligence in early 2022, before the rapid pace of advancement in AI (MidJourney and Dall-E became accessible only weeks into our work) was in all the headlines. That year marked a turning point in the world's recognition of the importance and potential impact of AI. While tempted to rely heavily on AI for the piece, we soon realized that by the time our piece was complete, the technology would likely have advanced so far as to render our efforts obsolete. So AI became an assistant, used to try out ideas quickly and layer backgrounds, but always guided by the human hand.

As we explored the world of AI in greater depth, we grappled with a key challenge: how to represent this complex and multifaceted topic in a way that would be accessible and engaging to our audience.

One limitation that was built into the project was that we would be using pre-shot interviews with the authors instead of interviewing them specifically for this video.  We overcame that first hurdle by putting together a script and initial edit from those videos that we thought could tell the story in an engaging way. That led us to realize that animation would be our best avenue to create a visually compelling story and we knew we would also need a compelling soundtrack to be composed specifically for the piece.

Inspired by one of Eric Schmidt's quotes, likening the current AI moment to the Renaissance, we settled on a visual metaphor: a hollow cube, in which anything could happen. It was only later that we discovered that Leonardo da Vinci had created a nearly identical rendering of a cube, further underscoring the timelessness of our subject matter. 

To bring a human element to our film, we designed characters that were a hybrid of two iconic architectural figures: the Vitruvian man and Le Corbusier's Modulor, symbolizing the intersection of art, science, and humanity that lies at the heart of the AI revolution. Through this design, we aimed to convey the message that, despite its remarkable capabilities, AI still requires the guiding hand of humanity in order to reach its full potential. 

From a sound perspective, compositionally, different musical elements were woven throughout: voices chanting, pulsing strings, thick electronic textures, simple melodic motifs. One longer musical sequence was established that was returned to as a theme and variations that reflected the ways that AI often builds on itself, the music essentially adding layers as AI does to tell its story.



Since our main objective was to find a much wider audience for the crucial information from the book we were promoting, we feel that our efforts were very successful. By making the film easily accessible on YouTube at a moment when AI was just starting to enter public consciousness, it became a great introduction to the deeper ethical dilemmas inherent in the technology that the public were only beginning to grapple with. With over 4.5 million views, the video has traveled far and wide around the globe.



Video for The Age of AI and Our Human Future

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Sandblast Productions, Schmidt Futures

Entry Credits