Artificial Intelligence Empowering Disciplines and Majors - Professor Yao Kougen Discusses Artistic Creation in the AI Era


To implement the "Opinions on Comprehensively Deepening the Comprehensive Reform of Higher Education to Promote High-Quality Development," and centering on serving to promote the national and Shanghai's future industrial development, a forward-thinking layout for future disciplines has been established, empowering the reform of disciplines and majors with Artificial Intelligence (AI), and promoting the transformation and upgrading of traditional disciplines and majors. On March 28th, Yin Yuerong, the Party Secretary of the Director's Department, invited Professor Yao Kougen, a senior professor and doctoral supervisor at Shanghai Theatre Academy, to deliver a lecture on "How to Excel at Artistic Creation in the AI Era" for all faculty and students of the department. This marked the first lecture in the "Directing Department Forum" series for the year 2024.

Professor Yao Kougen took the concepts, types and development overview of artificial intelligence as the starting point of the lecture, explaining that AI is divided into simple and complex types, expert-type AI and generative AI, and analyzed the categories and disciplines involved in generative AI. He then discussed AI creation in the field of drama and film in three parts: the development of AI, AI learning, and how to use AI for artistic creation and education.

Firstly, by showing a clip from the 2023 TV series "Joan is Awful," Professor Yao illustrated the attention filmmakers pay to artificial intelligence, creating fictional stories to demonstrate the astonishing efficiency of AI in film and television, which eliminates the tedious processes of scriptwriting, shooting, production, etc., gathering materials and data at an incredibly fast pace to create works catering to audience preferences. Next, he presented real-life examples such as the initially AI-written script "SUNSPRING," the AI-created short film "Zone of Safety," the launch of the scriptwriting software Dramatron, the mature AI-created animation "South Park," and the first series of AI-created animated micro-dramas "Chinese Mythology" in China, demonstrating the rapid development of AI and its important role in drama and film creation.

Following this, Professor Yao drew upon foreign papers to introduce the pyramidal and journey structures, classic scriptwriting structures and techniques adopted by OpenAI in developing AI scriptwriters. He elaborately discussed how to feed the theories and technical knowledge of dramaturgy and narratology to AI, enabling it to better complete the narration of film and theatre stories under the guidance of designated prompt words.

Finally, Professor Yao Kougen paid special attention to art creation and art education with the advantages of AI. He believed that the involvement of AI offers infinite possibilities for artists to transform their brilliant ideas into tangible works. For teachers and students in drama and film studies, learning and utilizing AI can free them from the impact of time, cost, and other factors, enabling bold conceptualization and determined innovation in unprecedented ways. He pointed out that modern art education disciplines provide students with comprehensive theoretical knowledge and systematic skill training, but there is less emphasis on the rapid enhancement of innovative abilities. Some art teachers have created distinctive and innovative teaching methods through workshops, leading to breakthroughs in art creation with unique styles. Now, the emergence and application of AI provides a rare intelligent tool for the innovation of drama education. It enables us to broaden our horizons, integrate different disciplines and media, and support the creation of rich and unique drama and film works. He elaborated on the different development stages of university art education, identifying three dimensions of art teaching objectives: the first is the knowledge dimension; the second is the social dimension, where art serves society; the third is the student dimension, on how to improve students' aesthetic and imaginative abilities, cater to the development of students' individual creative work, and address the bottlenecks in their art creation. Professor Yao believed that the use of AI can help teachers innovate in teaching and better guide students in creative practice and skill training. Taking the International Masterclass on Directing as an example, he suggested that the Directing Department use artificial intelligence to categorize and summarize the dramatic perspectives, training methods, and layered skills from fourteen sessions of the Masterclass, generating a unique teaching philosophy and methodology for the department, along with an exclusive academic information and teaching material repository.

At the end of the lecture, several teachers from the Directing Department engaged in a lively discussion with Professor Yao Kougen, who brought a lecture of epochal value to the teachers and students in 120 minutes. In the face of our era, there are both opportunities and challenges. Through this session of the "Directing Department Fourm" series of lectures, not only has a platform been provided for teachers and students to deeply understand the application of AI in the field of art creation, but it has also sparked thoughtful deliberation on future education models. With the continuous advancement of AI technology, we believe that AI-enabled education and the integration of science and art for innovation will make future art creation and art education more efficient and personalized, offering strong support for nurturing a new generation of talents.