Genius Brands recently announced two artificial intelligence-generated (AI) projects: Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club and Kidaverse Fast Facts. Tell us a bit more about the two projects and how Genius Brands decided to turn to AI?
The culture at Genius Brands International and Kartoon Channel! is one of continual innovation, and adapting to the rapidly changing tastes and needs of the audience. Although we are a public company listed on Nasdaq, we operate on a smaller scale and are nimbler than many of our competitors. As such, we are in a unique position to be able to pivot to try new avenues for creating content.
A few of us in the office had downloaded the ChatGPT app and rapidly came to the conclusion that it wasn’t just a fashionable fad. It was a really great tool that could produce meaningful, insightful and accurate output.
We already have our successful animated originals, from Rainbow Rangers to Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten to Shaq’s Garage, and live-action factual entertainment including Roblox Rumble so the in-house production expertise is high. It was a logical next step to look at whether artificial intelligence could enhance our production capabilities.
The Warren Buffett‘s Secret Millionaires Club AI content is a next step from our existing popular original animated series, which is focused on teaching kids financial literacy. The feedback from parents was that they valued an entertainment show that helped kids better manage their pocket money, and think about saving and how to make their money go further. So this new content in the form of shorts with simple tips in a fun animated style was a natural development.
The Fast Facts series, which has three main pillars, Science Technology and Maths, Sport and History are short videos delivering nuggets of information that will engage and inspire kids to think, and explore these subjects in more detail, whether at school or at home.What are the main benefits of using the latest technologies in content production?
Technology is probably one of the most powerful tools for positive change in our world and its impact over the past twenty years has arguably been greater than the previous hundred years. Animation production has changed fundamentally since the days of Walt Disney’s multi-plane camera, ink and paint and Toy Story, an example of one of the first fully computer generated animated features. The introduction of AI into content production is merely another new tool in a long list of technological innovations.
At Genius Brands we are still in the very early stages of learning how AI can bring benefits and innovation into production. So far our experience is that it is brilliant for primary research, often introducing new ideas or lines of thought that complement our production teams own expertise. It can write poems, generate first draft scripts and design rudimentary story- boards. And it achieves this in less time than many humans would take to come up with similar output. However, we see it as an additional resource, adding value, but not replacing humans. We have the privilege of creating and producing content for kids, arguably the most important audience of all, so oversight and overall editorial control of productions by experienced writers, producers and editors is still paramount and remains unchanged.You have set up Genius AI Studio. What is your strategy for this unit, and will you be producing AI generated content for other companies?
The strategy at its most concise is to experiment and learn how AI can benefit our production output both animated and live action. We introduced the Kidaverse last year, which includes avatars, 3D content, safe gaming content and other new ideas, so part of our goal is to create cool new content kids will love, and parent will appreciate (because it is safe and age appropriate), for this zone in our Kartoon Channel! App. We think some of the ideas may translate into interstitials or shorts on Kartoon Channel! linear or FAST, but we are learning by iterating, and then changing, and adapting as we go.
We certainly can’t rule out that we would produce for other companies, but at this stage the content will be for our owned and operated channels and partner channels and services. How does an AI-generated project differ from traditional animation and live action series in terms of production?
At this stage we see AI produced projects being simpler in their overall creative execution, focused on shorts, and quicker to come to market from original idea to going on air or online. AI telescopes the early stages in the production, so it’s possible to be more experimental, to reduce the ideation and research time and to therefore be more current and possibly reactive to the mood or audience needs at that time.Kidaverse Fast Facts is the first AI-generated children’s series, which will also be using ChatGPT. Will you be using it also in Secret Millionaires Club and what is the role of ChatGPT?
ChatGPT has moved the AI initiative forward because it is an easy to use app either on a desktop or mobile connected device. AI is already integral to our lives whether in your car, to enable on line shopping or to be served new TV shows on streamed services such as Netflix and Disney+. We are using ChatGPT because it is a user friendly, cost effective tool with a high degree of accuracy that adds to the skill base of our talented production staff. For Secret Millionaires Club Minis, we won’t be using ChatGPT since we already have narrative from Warren Buffet himself and will deploy AI tools to create new visuals to reimagine the lessons Warren taught us in the original series.Both of the series are aimed at children 4-12 and their families. Have you planned projects for older kids and adults?
Kartoon Channel!’s audience sweet spot is kids 4-12, and as young people become more sophisticated probably the upper age limit that you can still call a kid is 12-years-old. Programming for tweens, teenagers and young adults is something that Frederator Network, from WOW! Entertainment, a subsidiary of Genius Brands, is expert at, but is a separate brand and audience from Kartoon Channel! Our initial deployment of AI is for kids 4-12 on Kartoon Channel! brand, and we believe that the company will learn a huge amount from this initiative. We certainly wouldn’t rule out producing content for different audiences in the future, but we are just at the beginning of this journey.Have you planned other AI generated projects for this year?
We are fortunate at Genius Brands to be an owner of original IP which enables us to deliver unique and distinctive content as first run and where appropriate exclusive content to benefit our kids and family audience and our partners. ‘Content with a Purpose’ is our mantra, so yes, we have a huge number of toys in our sandbox so the potential for new projects is considerable. We have already starting thinking about what is next, but for today we are focused on Secret Millionaires Club Minis and Kidaverse Fast Facts.When will the two projects debut and what is your distribution strategy?
Both projects will start to roll out early summer (Northern Hemisphere) Internationally initially on the Kartoon Channel! App in either or, AVOD and the SVOD Kidaverse. They will also appear in the US, initially on YouTube and social media and on Kartoon Channel! internationally as we rapidly grow out the channel footprint across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.