Screenplay and Storyboard with DALL-E 2 and GPT-3
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
So much of modern TV and movies is highly formulaic. Some joke that a computer could write scripts, and some have tried it, with rather bizarre results.
I thought it would be fun to write a period drama, and not only use AI to generate a script, but also illustrate it scene by scene in a storyboard, just as would happen for a real movie. A period drama seemed like an interesting candidate because the characters speak in a unique style and act according to different customs than today. Additionally, I thought the absurdity of an AI system writing about a time long before anyone had even imagined computers would make it a little more fun. Using the first two scenes of the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as my guide, I set to testing if and how well it could extend the scenes.
The scripts were accurate.... too accurate. I began to wonder if I was dealing with over-fitting. I decided to perform another test, giving a prompt of another key scene, and the algorithm added the character of Mr. Gardiner (who were not mentioned in the prompt). Clearly there were some over-fitting issues, and any experiments I would do with Pride and Prejudice as a prompt would simply lead to a re-hashing of the story.
So as a next step in this experiment, I decided to try making a sequel using even less data for a prompt. The first result was somewhat nonsensical and a very short plot summary, but after adding the location of the first scene, GPT-3 created a convincing first scene of a sequel to the book and film.
Unfortunately, this script was a little boring, simply being a conversation between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy about a secret trip to France. It could make for the beginning of an interesting story, but not terribly interesting material for making a storyboard. Instead, I decided to try a new approach: Pride and Prejudice and Pythons. Although the plot of this story is somewhat juvenile, I found it a great way to test DALL-E 2 on less well-structured prompts. The script and storyboard are below:
Pride and Prejudice and Pythons
[EXT/INT. LONGBOURN - DAY]
(Lizzy is walking around the house. We see a few shots of her inside and outside. She's wearing a flowered dress and her hair is up in a bun.)
ELIZABETH: (narrating) It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an Englishman in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such man may be on his first entering society, this truth...
(Suddenly, we see a giant snake slither in front of her. Lizzy gasps.)
(Lizzy runs away from the snake and it chases after her. She screams as she tries to get away from it. The camera cuts to Mr. Bennet who is sitting in his chair reading a book.)
MR BENNETT: (sarcastically) Oh, dear me! How unlucky that Miss Lizzy should have gone out walking today of all days! An army of snakes couldn't divert me from my book!
(Suddenly, the snake bursts into the house and Mr. Bennet gasps in surprise.)
MR BENNETT: What the deuce!
(The snake is now chasing Mr. Bennet around the house. Mrs. Bennett comes in.)
MRS BENNETT: What is the matter? Oh, my dear husband! You are not hurt, I hope! But where is my Lizzy? Send one of the servants to fetch her back immediately!
(Mrs. Bennett runs out of the room and we hear her screaming as she tries to get away from the snake.)
[EXT. LONGBOURN - DAY]
(Lizzy is still running away from the snake. She screams as she tries to get away from it.)
ELIZABETH: Help! Somebody help me!
(Suddenly, we see a man on a horse riding towards her. He's wearing a red coat and has curly hair. He's also carrying a sword.)
ELIZABETH: Oh, thank goodness! Sir, please help me! There's a giant snake after me!
SIR WALTER SCOTT: (chivalrously) Do not fear, my lady! I shall save you from this vile reptile!
(Sir Walter Scott tries to kill the snake with his sword, but he misses and ends up hitting a tree. The snake is now angry and it's coming towards Sir Walter Scott. He screams in terror as he tries to get away from it.)
SIR WALTER SCOTT: Aaah! Help me! Somebody help me!
(Lizzy gasps in horror as she watches the snake chasing Sir Walter Scott. She then has an idea and she takes off her dress. She wraps it around the snake's head and it starts suffocating. Lizzy then grabs a stick and hits the snake on the head until it's dead. She then collapses to the ground, exhausted.)
ELIZABETH: (panting) That was close.
Ultimately, this project showcased the amazing capability of GPT-3 more son than DALL-E 2. DALL-E 2 struggled with concepts of who was chasing who, even when I adjusted the prompts to be easier for it to understand. In particular, prompts to illustrate her taking off her dress and suffocating a snake were nearly impossible for it to understand. This was somewhat unexpected, since it was extremely capable in other experiments that I ran with it (more on those, plus a bit of my own analysis on its weird quirks for a later piece).
Is GPT-3 and DALL-E 2 ready to make storyboards for film? Not as it currently stands, but with some minor adjustments to help DALL-E better understand cause and effect, possibly. The script writing is already pretty impressive, if the plots are somewhat basic (but then again, so are most movies coming out of Hollywood today). Other tweaks, such as having it remember the outfits of characters, would also be extremely valuable. I would not be surprised if in the near future this technology could be optimized for applications not only for writing screenplays and storyboards, but for even generating the full movie.