How Bristol Creative Industries members are using AI

24th November 2023

It has been a big year for artificial intelligence; so much so that Collins Dictionary made AI the most notable word of 2023

AI has actually been around for several decades, but since ChatGPT burst on the scene in November 2022 it has been a huge global topic of conversation.

Developments in the technology are moving fast and businesses around the world are using AI tools for various tasks. But there are also ethical concerns around bias, privacy, plagiarism and accuracy. And what does it mean for sectors like ours which has a bit focus on human creativity?

Dan Martin asked members of Bristol Creative Industries to tell us how they are using AI, the tools that are most useful, any concerns they have about the technology and what impact they think it will have on the creative industries. 

“In the field of design, AI has emerged not as a threat but as a formidable ally. It serves as a creative collaborator, an ever-available helping hand that can assist designers in unleashing their true potential and the potential of their ideas.

“AI algorithms can analyse vast datasets, identify trends, and provide inspiration that might have eluded humans. It extends the possibilities of what we can create, helping us push the boundaries of design. However, it’s crucial to recognise that AI doesn’t replace creativity – it’s an enhancer – part of a unique and collaborative team that will do great things together.

“As we embrace AI in design, we must tread carefully regarding ethics. AI’s capacity to mimic styles, artists, and writers raises important questions about originality, plagiarism, and intellectual property.

“We must recognise the ethical implications of using AI and we should establish guidelines and standards to ensure AI is directed fairly and honestly to constantly check ourselves and each other, always questioning the work we produce. Integrating AI into agencies is inevitable and holds tremendous promise. When used with integrity, it is a transformative force that can elevate our creativity, efficiency, and impact.

AI tools we use regularly include Chat GPT, Midjourney, Dalle and Vizcom. We are currently looking for the best opportunities to use Loops and Boords.

Ryan Wills, Taxi Studio
View Taxi Studio’s BCI profile

“There is one tool that is showing promise and potential; Claude. We’re finding it more of a helpful tool than say ChatGPT because it allows you to attach files. It’s also good for breaking up documents and summarising. It’s in beta, so it’s pretty rough and ready, but we’ve done things like ask it to create shot lists from video storyboards and it does a fairly good first job.

Dalle3 has been put into Bing, and that’s a fun tool. It can create nice pictures in just one prompt. It’s been handy for stock image creation, but it’s limited. For example, it can’t create anything beyond a 1×1 ratio.

“Whereas Midjourney is a much more powerful image generator, but you’ve got to put a lot more into the prompts and variance tweaking. They are interesting, but I don’t see them replacing a creative function. You still need the creative vision to make them work.

“As an agency, we’re carefully exploring the risks and ethics of such tools in our sector. The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian are two examples where a cautious approach to AI is being taken and we anticipate that other publishers will follow suit. The Daily Telegraph has recently issued guidelines to staff prohibiting publishing AI-generated text except in limited cases with legal approval and The Guardian is vying to maintain transparency around human-produced journalism.

“We’re mindful that we’re still in the infancy of AI and advancement is bubbling away. As they stand, they’re not replacing anything or anyone, more that they are a string to the bow. It still feels like there’s a long way to go with AI tools but we’re excited to see what’s to come.”

Sarah Woodhouse, Ambitious PR
View Ambitious PR’s BCI profile

“As a video production team, we’re really receptive to AI based tools that improve our editing workflow. We were early adopters of the beta version of Adobe Premiere Pro‘s text based editing tools, which really speeds up sync selection when dealing with multiple talking heads. We also use the enhance speech function to improve audio quality when location recording sound is compromised; this has varying degrees of success, but it’s good to see the capability evolving.

“An enthusiasm for exploring AI was an important factor in hiring our two newest members of staff and we try to make time for them to try out new applications.

“So far AI has been a positive experience for us, especially where it speeds up mundane tasks. We welcome it as a tool to further human creativity rather than undermine it. However we do appreciate this may be influenced by our team members requiring multiple skills rather than focusing on a specialised area of post-production.”

Penny Beeston, Beeston Media
View Beeston Media’s BCI profile

“We want to position AI as a complementary tool, rather than a replacement for strategic communications and copywriting. We are using specialist applications like Jasper and ChatGPT to add speed and scale to parts of the content creation process. We’ve focused this year on building our own internal experience and knowledge but there have already been a few projects where we have been able to show our expertise.

“Generative AI is like having a really inexperienced intern. It needs to be provided with the right information, instructions and tasks to get the best results. And because its responses are based on already existing content, the answers AI provides are always generic. While it might give us a starting point to add our own creative and strategic thinking to – it is nowhere near being able to create something we’d be happy to send to clients.

“As an agency and an industry, we must make sure this technology doesn’t replace actual human interns. That’s why we are continuing to take on interns from local universities next year. We want to help people gain the experience they need to build rewarding careers in the creative industries.

Darren Clare, Stratton Craig
View Stratton Craig’s BCI profile here

“Generative AI has felt a bit like discovering the internet for the first time; it truly is magic. When it comes to the practical business benefits, it has started to automate some simple tasks. We can edit podcast episodes and the accompanying social clips easily on, do some image manipulation and we’ve started to experiment with its ability to write social media posts.

“There’s likely to be a big opportunity for creative businesses, if you embrace what’s possible and think about how it’s going to impact the way you work. We just need to be careful that we’re still supporting the development of people joining the industry — it’s the tasks they do that are being taken over — and that marketing focuses on quality and community. There’s going to be a lot more content created, so you’ll need to work harder to stand out!”

Chris Goodfellow, Inkwell
View Inkwell’s BCI profile here

We recognise that the pace of change of technology is accelerating exponentially. By becoming comfortable with that and working within guardrails that support this change, we can identify and take advantage of areas of opportunity for our clients as well as for our own business.

With a focus on human centricity, our strategy is broken down into a couple of key areas. It all starts with open dialogue and conversation, from board level and across the organisation. We have AI champions from each part of our business, who are busy identifying the key challenges and opportunities within their own specialisms, from motion to finance. This allows the prioritisation for areas of focus, so that new tools that may not be in use already can be tested.

“We’re also putting in place a clear vision statement that aims to set boundaries within which innovation can flourish. For any concerns that may arise when using a tool, we’re setting up a bias council, so that these can be raised and explored to avoid the discrimination.”

Emma Bass, Six
View Six’s BCI profile here

“I think it would be foolish for us to deny the potential held by artificial intelligence. When it comes to research, data collection, analysis and reporting etc, AI tools are brimming with potential. They’ve certainly helped us streamline processes and massively improve overall efficiency.

“However, there are certain processes that simply cannot (at the moment), and should not, be replicated by computers.

“Be it copywriting, content creation, web design or strategy, we strongly believe in the value of creative human input across all our work. AI is unable to capture the essence of brands, clients and individuals, no matter how hard it tries.

“Yes, these tools will continue to evolve and improve, but our focus will remain on the knowledge and experience of people, not machines. They’ll help our people be more productive and reduce time spent on monotonous tasks but they lack that spontaneous and creative flare.

In terms of tools we use, it’s all ChatGPT at the moment. The plan is to create unique GPT models catered to all of our clients and work types. This will allow us to train models based on client-specific documentation like style guides, landing pages and SEO best-practice docs.

“We have previously been combining third-party plugins, such as Browser OP and Webpilot, with specifically engineered prompts. As GPT is improving at a rapid pace though, third party browser plug-ins are becoming less important and these features are becoming native within GPT.”

Paul Morris, Superb Digital
View Superb Digital’s BCI profile here

“AI cannot innovate, only replicate – at least in its current form. AI tools like the infamous ChatGPT are able to create things based on existing data that they have been shown. This inability to produce something from nothing, or to create an entirely new direction for a web service like development or design, means it is unlikely to serve a threat to the industry.

“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it, however. AI is an incredibly useful tool in oiling up the creative process, making certain aspects like research and insights go much faster. However, it probably won’t replace traditional creative practices for companies that want something bespoke.

“For web design, and websites in general, most organisations want to speak to humans. That’s because they’re led by humans, and the services they offer are invariably for humans. This common factor means that human-led design is the most logical thing to do, both now and in the future.

“There will be organisations that embrace AI to the extremes, even creating full AI websites. The impact of this is most likely to be seen in entry level projects for people that want a site quickly such start-ups.

“There are indications that Google penalises websites that utilise full AI content. Furthermore, as AI is in its infancy, we’ve yet to see how it will evolve both legally and functionally – restrictions on things like use of content and copyright laws could come into play down the line.

“For now, it’s best to think about the good that comes from AI – the speedy research, the ideas generation, and the surface-level insight into a topic – rather than assume it’ll replace jobs or the creative industry as a whole.”

Nick Bird, Squarebird
View Squarebird’s BCI profile here

“We have integrated many video production based workflow enhancements using various AI tools, and have regular meetings to discuss its wider impact. Many conversations conclude with, “It’s good, but not great, and not yet ready” or “It feels like AI” etc, but the fact is that with AI’s exponential growth curve, it will be ready and soon!

“The level of disruption AI poses to business is both exhilarating and overwhelming, and we’re hoping that the benefits will balance the effort, money and time it takes to stay up to date with fast paced change, to test what’s right for each business and to integrate it successfully into better workflows.”

Sam Hearn, Omni Productions
View Omni Productions’ BCI profile

“AI in one form or another is used pretty frequently to support our team. I use the word ‘support’ intentionally.

“ChatGPT came with a lot of hype, but after the initial novelty wore off, we found that the majority of use-cases are typically rephrasing meeting notes or making email notes more concise – though creating approaches and frameworks for ideas has been more valuable.

Voice AI is looking promising as a low-cost solution for social media assets, though it certainly doesn’t replace a voice over artist (yet). Again something we are experimenting with and will likely make more use of in the near future.

“Text-to-image tools are interesting. Photoshop has some half-decent inbuilt generative tools now, but in more powerful scenarios we’ve been able to build environments using MidJourney to support our creative. Notice the use of ‘support’ again? It’s not perfect, but it does help rule out what’s not working.

“Finally, and perhaps the most unusual use for us so far, was collaboratively working to set up an online chat-game for Conan the Barbarian. We worked in partnership with a text prompt engineer to craft a framework for a text based adventure game called ‘Tavern of Treachery’. Reviewed by PC Gamer, the campaign ran for the first two weeks of launch and generated over 3,000 unique AI encounters with Conan.”

Rich Williams, Something Familiar
View Something Familiar’s BCI profile here

“Like many teams, we used AI before ChatGPT burst onto the scene. Spending time on it has helped us find ways to bolster our work. Some of these findings will be shared in the chapter of a book called #PRStack, which is due out later this month.

“In our team meetings, AI chatbots record discussions and outline actions. A close friend’s creation,, promises to enhance this.

“We’re also looking at how AI can manage tasks like analysing engagement feedback efficiently, allowing us to dedicate more time to strategic, high-value work.

“There’s no doubt it’s a game-changer, but I’m apprehensive about two things and irritated by a third.

“Firstly, like with social media, I worry that optimism bias will stop us from collectively recognising the potential for bad actors to wreak terrible harm. There is an important role for regulators here to ensure the right controls are in place.

“My second fear is that we fail to grasp the opportunities AI presents.

“My third concern comes from a long-standing bugbear: that the landscape between organisations and the public becomes even more littered with bad tech ‘solutions’ (chatbots and ‘convenience’ parking, I’m looking at you).

“That’s why I’m convinced that the AI success stories will be the ones who integrate it into their work while keeping people at the heart of what they do.”

Ben Lowndes, Distinctive Communications
View Distinctive’s BCI profile here

“Performing initial discovery can be a time-consuming process, and even briefing it to someone else can seem like a chore. While it still requires a knowledgeable eye to read and verify responses, ChatGPT 3.5 has been a good tool for researching business sectors, personas, and helping to draft workflows. This has helped to cut down time on the tedious tasks in order to be able to focus on the fun ones.

“But AI isn’t a magic bullet (not yet, at least) as the results you get from these tools are only as good as the prompts you give them, much like the benefit of writing a good brief.

“Within early stage concepting especially AI assisted workflows are all about maximising your time and output. It goes without saying Photoshop’s Generative Fill has been a gamechanger – beyond that we are also using generative AI models like Stable Diffusion to help bring our ideas to life.

“The benefit of AI for people within the creative industries feels vast. For any concerns about its negative impacts, we can only look to other historical comparisons. Maybe the impact of the letterpress on calligraphy in the mid-15th century? Or the democratisation of the personal computer and home printer through the late-20th century? For now, these are all just tools and as long as we take care to use them appropriately, we can keep our excitement to use them!”

Neil Sims, Oakwood
View Oakwood’s BCI profile here

“Our first exploration of AI began with using early deepfake technology to recreate a young Ian Wright, for an Adidas 90s apparel re-launch project. AI has since become a key part of our workflow, e.g. in upscaling renders and adding in-between frames. This was essential for a 10 minute projection mapping project requiring 8K renders at 50fps, an impossible task without the AI tool Topaz Labs Video AI.

“We utilise the evolving AI features in tools such as DaVinci Resolve for tasks such as object removal, rotoscoping and denoising. We’ve enhanced efficiency and precision, making processes quicker and more streamlined.

LLMs like Bard and Chat GTP provide workflow advice on complex VFX challenges in software like Houdini, accelerating R&D and discovering more effective solutions.

“We’re also exploring AI for early-stage ideation and generating visual elements, a shift from traditional reliance on stock imagery.

“From our experience, there is no doubt AI will play a significant role in VFX and asset development. Although AI hasn’t yet perfected executing vision, its contribution to creativity and ideation is undeniable.

“Nuance, especially when iterating with clients and artists, means a production process where people have ultimate control is still essential.”

Sama Alyasiri, Nymbl
View Nymbl’s BCI profile here

“We predict that AI will be disruptive but not fatal. We have been integrating AI into our work flows in a way which benefits our clients and as our business is all about SEO, is in line with Google’s guidelines. We believe, and the results from our clients show, that the core principles of good SEO will remain the same, even if the tools we use to deliver those results will evolve.

“It’s about strategy, and how to use it. A bit like when steam engines were invented, and everyone panicked about their impact. The ones that succeeded were the ones that learnt how to use the steam engine to their benefit rather than ignore it or try and stop them. Therefore, it will not change the core pillars of SEO, but it’s a tool that can be used to assist us in helping to make our clients visible online.

“One area to keep an eye on in search marketing, is that we are noting some of the biggest visual updates to Google SERPs that we’ve seen in some time – with Google’s Generative AI-powered Search Experience (SGE). Context will be carried over from question to question, to help you more naturally continue your exploration and these AI generated search results are very different from what we’re used to seeing. We expect more growth and development within SGE, over the coming months.”

Tom Vaughton, Varn
View Varn’s BCI profile here

“We’re getting great results when it comes to brand messaging. Copywriting at the branding stage can be like picking apart a plate of tangled thoughts, ideas and content, and then putting them into a coherent order.

“AI offers us strands to pull at sooner, giving us developed phrases that we can adapt and shape and link to. Yes, most of the output is cliché or inappropriate or wildly off-tone, but it’s a much better starting point than a blank page, a blinking cursor and a looming deadline.”

Simeon de la Torre, SIM7
View SIM7’s BCI profile here

“We’ve been working on AI related-projects for our clients since 2019. We view AI integration as largely beneficial; embedding AI and machine learning in products and workflows offers advantages such as enhanced efficiency, superior decision-making, and enriched customer journeys.

“Understandably, skilled individuals across the creative industries may have concerns. Yet in my 20+ years in digital media, I’ve found new technology always requires time to find its place. I consider it a new toolkit that should ultimately liberate us to focus on the really smart stuff that relies on human creativity, curiosity, heart, soul and intuition.”

Dave Harrison, Spicerack
View Spicerack’s BCI profile here


About Bristol Creative Industries

Bristol Creative Industries is the membership network that supports the region's creative sector to learn, grow and connect, driven by the common belief that we can achieve more collectively than alone. 

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