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The Guy Behind “Shrek” Says AI Is Going to Wipe Out Human Jobs in Animation


Some of you may lose your jobs, but it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make.

Ogre It

With the advent of powerful AI, the animation industry is in for a hell of a disruption. Or so says veteran producer and executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who believes the technology will make animated films up to 90 percent cheaper to produce — at the expense of 90 percent of the jobs of human animators, of course.

“I don’t know of an industry that will be more impacted than any aspect of media, entertainment, and creation,” Katzenberg said at the Bloomberg New Economy forum on Thursday, as quoted by Bloomberg.

“In the good old days, you might need 500 artists and years to make a world-class animated movie,” added the “Shrek” producer. “I don’t think it will take 10 percent of that three years from now.”

More to Come

You may not be familiar with the man himself, but you definitely know some of the big name projects he helmed.

In the 90s, after serving as chairman of Walt Disney Studios, Katzenberg went on to found his own animation powerhouse, Dreamworks Animation. There, he would produce everything from “Chicken Run” to “Shrek” — and really, need we say more?

From Katzenberg’s seasoned perspective, the industry has already undergone tumultuous change in the past decade, and with AI it’s set to become even more revolutionized in the decade to follow.

“It’s been explosive over the last 10 years,” said Katzenberg, per The Hollywood Reporter. “I think if you look at how media has been impacted in the last 10 years by the introduction of digital technology, what will happen in the next 10 years will be 10 times as great, literally, by a factor greater.”

Peeling the Onion

There’s no doubt that AI has already had a huge impact on industries outside of animation, with major publishers like Red Ventures and Axel Springer laying off their writers, and tech giants like IBM planning to replace thousands of jobs with the technology.

But Katzenberg hasn’t always had his fingers on the animation industry’s pulse. His “handling” of the 1985 flop and then-most-expensive-animated-feature-ever,  “The Black Cauldron” — like forcing entire sequences to be re-done last minute and furiously editing the movie into oblivion against the producer’s wishes — nearly killed Disney Animation, which would almost seem unthinkable today.

Katzenberg also founded the historic disaster Quibi, a streaming service that offered fake-looking TV shows and movies meant to be intermittently watched on your phone the same way you might peek at a TikTok while waiting in line. Naturally, movie people stuck to watching normal movies on places like Netflix and TikTok people continued to just watch TikToks, and Katzenberg’s venture set fire to $2 billion of investor’s money.

So, our brave and tireless animators might take solace in the fact that this guy has sometimes been very wrong.

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