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What are AI videos?

What do companies mean when they say they offer AI videos? In this article, we surveyed the top vendors in this rapidly evolving space to find out.

On one end of the spectrum we found tools that use bleeding-edge generative AI to create video content from a prompt—but that aren’t ready for business use. On the other end, we found business-friendly platforms that feature traditional AI functionality focused on streamlining production tasks and making it easier to repurpose video content. And in the middle, we found an exciting category that successfully pulls from both.

If you’ve been frustrated by the promise of generative AI video (only to find it wasn’t really like that after trying out the tool), this article will help you navigate the 5 main categories in the AI video ecosystem.

The 5 types of AI video platforms

How we wrote this article

To explore the video creation ecosystem, we’ve partnered with Miguel Rebelo, a software writer who covers the AI video category.

For this article, Miguel analyzed industry trends, researched over 30 AI video platforms and ran in-depth experiments on 10 of these to ensure we have the most accurate, hands-on and up-to-date view of the current landscape.

A brief history of AI videos

Since its inception in the 1950s, AI and machine learning have been used for an increasing number of specific tasks. Narrow AI deals with image recognition and basic natural language processing, enabling smart features in digital assistants such as Siri or Alexa.

Beyond narrow AI, reactive machines perform an action or decision based on a starting stimulus. Having no memory to rely on, they’ve been widely used to keep spam out of your inbox, increase the quality of Google Search results and defeat human chess masters.

One step above, limited memory AI helps models make decisions based on stored information, powering technologies such as self-driving cars and the first chatbots.

And then, ChatGPT entered the market in late 2022, representing a new category: generative AI, models that can create original responses to a prompt. It shocked the world with its high-quality responses and wide applications in various tasks.

How does this work? After training on a massive amount of text data, large language models like GPT-3 take a prompt and find the words that are more statistically likely to appear in response to your input, based on its experience and tuning.

Generative AI image and audio models work in a similar way. These sectors grew significantly throughout 2023, with plenty of powerful apps available in the market today. Generative AI video is still catching up due to its data-heavy nature and the high computational power required to create video content. But at the rate this technology is evolving, generative AI will be central to video production before we know it.

Why should you invest in AI video now?

According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, generative AI tools can increase employee productivity by 66%.

This means that the earlier you invest in video tools that use traditional and generative AI, the more time you’ll have to identify the best use cases for your business, and create efficiencies before your competition does. And as you become more familiar with these AI video tools, you’ll be able to adopt other AI platforms and features earlier and faster, too.

Generative AI video platforms

Generative AI video feels like magic. Starting from a text prompt, the AI model uses its experience—the videos it processed during the training stage—to create original footage that no one has seen before.

Runway is the best generative video option for individual creators and artists right now. When you input your prompt, it generates four seconds of video, with a range of settings for changing visual style and controlling camera movements. If you like the first four seconds, you can keep extending your creation at four extra seconds each time.

Runway AI image

Runway’s output to the prompt “a castle in the mountains,” no other controls applied.

The first hours are fun, but Runway becomes complicated to use and control over time. The model occasionally fails to understand that you want subjects to move, instead generating a static image with camera movement. When it finally picks up on the intent, the movement doesn’t look believable. This demands a lot of trial and error until you get an output close to what you need. And since each attempt costs credits, it can get expensive both to learn and get results.

There’s one redeeming use case for Runway: it’s a great match for abstract, dream-like projects. Fitting the output into any realistic-looking video will be a challenge, making it a niche tool.

The second option is the OpenAI Sora model. It’s currently in limited preview, only available for AI red-teamers—experts who attempt to break the system to reveal safety issues—so we didn’t have a chance to test it. However, the preview videos show a lot of promise.

Open AI Sora AI image

OpenAI Sora’s preview output of the prompt “A movie trailer featuring the adventures of the 30 year old space man wearing a red wool knitted motorcycle helmet, blue sky, salt desert, cinematic style, shot on 35mm film, vivid colors.”

Based on the technical specifications, it generates a 60-second video without audio. At first glance, it looks better and is more believable than Runway’s output. It has a good grasp of camerawork in scenes with movement, offering smooth panning while keeping the core of the action in the frame.

Some preview videos also show that Sora has a good sense of editing and that it can understand content types. In the astronaut movie example above, it generated a sequence with frequent cuts and intense close-up shots to convey the excitement and epic feel that a trailer should have.

Open AI Sora AI image

OpenAI Sora’s preview output of a birthday party scene highlights the limitations of interactions between subjects and objects.

The cracks start to show when you get over the initial excitement of these previews. If you look closely, you’ll notice imprecisions especially where movement is involved. In scenes with multiple subjects and objects, it fails to understand how they should move or behave as a result of actions. For example, in the birthday party above, the subject blows out the candles but they stay lit.

Generative AI video deserves at least a few hours of experimentation. It’s fun and opens up your mind to future possibilities. Artists and individual creatives can use the unique look and feel to bring variety to their projects. For businesses, this category is not ready due to the lack of realism, low control over the output, and limited branding tools.

Pros of generative AI video platforms:

Ideation. If you need visual inspiration for a project, be it diving into a new mood or visual style, getting a generated video will provide a fresh new angle.

Unique look. Generative tools can put out videos that may be very hard (or even impossible) to recreate or shoot in the real world.

Low-cost special effects. Depending on the prompt, you can create video that would otherwise cost millions and require computer generated imagery (CGI) video experts to produce.

Cons of generative AI platforms:

Low editability. Most of the control over the output lies in changing the original prompt and regenerating the video over and over. The other existing controls are hit-and-miss.

Low brand control. When creating branded content for your audience, you want to be able to control the style and visual elements connected to your products and services. Due to limited editability features, generative AI doesn’t offer a good kit of branding tools.

High time investment. The complexity, learning curve, and adjusting prompts can make projects more unpredictable from a time perspective.

Unclear privacy standards. Depending on the policies of each app, your prompts and brand assets may be used for fine-tuning or training new models. This means that your original assets could end up being remixed and appear in someone else’s output.

AI-powered stock media search platforms

While the user experience is similar to generative AI video, AI-powered stock footage search platforms don’t actually use a generative AI video model. Instead, they use a combination of text/voice generation with agent software to:

  1. Understand your prompt, generate a text script and build an audio voice-over with AI.
  2. Search stock media databases for music and video content matching the topic.
  3. Assemble everything into a video that you can quickly publish.

invideo AI is an example of such a platform. When you enter your prompt, it generates a script for the video, offering a voice-over and a sequence of matching stock footage to kick off the project. You can then swap out the suggestions for your footage, and use text prompts to delete scenes or edit parts of the script.

Invideo AI image

invideo AI lays out the result of your prompt in a single sequence, offering basic controls to replace the suggested media with your own.

The limited controls can seem like a shortcoming, but these platforms are all about speed. They’re designed to take an idea to video in the shortest time possible, making them a good match to support your social media content production if you’re tight on time.

Pros of AI-powered stock footage matching platforms

Quick results. You don’t have to spend hours scouting and collecting stock footage. You get workable suggestions faster.

Useful for social media content. You need to keep posting on a schedule to ensure you stay visible, so you can plug gaps in your publishing calendar as you produce other content types.

Cons of AI-powered stock footage matching platforms

Inconsistent stock footage quality or content. For more niche prompts, the clip sequence may not make sense from a visual or content perspective. You’ll have to adjust your prompt.

Limited editability. This depends a lot on the platform, but most focus on speed, meaning they don’t offer deep video editing controls. If you want to create custom transitions or do precise trimming, you’ll have to take your video to another app.

Not actually generative video. You’re just getting a composition of stock media footage, which may or may not be editable.

Gated or limited access to stock libraries. Depending on the video platform, they may have access to different libraries, or even gate access to premium stock footage. If you want to see everything and get access to the very best, you’ll have to hop on the priciest paid plans sooner.

Synthetic AI video platforms

Synthetic AI video platforms come in two flavors: deepfake generators and AI avatar apps.

In the first one, the sole purpose is to take the image of a real human and help the user embed it into an image or a video, offering controls to make it look as realistic as possible. Then, the user uses this image for blackmail, manipulation, or public shaming of the real person.

The fact that these platforms endorse this kind of unethical behavior is a clear signal that your business should stay away from them. If they have this kind of ethical flexibility, they may display the same disrespect for your business data.

The second category is more helpful and well within the parameters of legality and ethics. AI avatar platforms make talking-head videos easier to produce. Select your AI avatar, upload your script and hit generate: these platforms will quickly pump out a result you can add to your knowledge base. There are multiple business use cases here, as you can turn static text into a presenter-style video without investing much time and effort.

A popular option in this category is Synthesia. Pick an avatar from a deep library of people that could’ve been born anywhere in the world. Then upload your script and line up your scenes, positioning your avatar in each slide, like in Google Slides or PowerPoint.

Synthesia AI image

Synthesia’s editor screen, where you can input your script and configure how the AI avatar should read and act it out.

When you hit play, the app will generate the speech and animate the avatar to replicate the expected movements when saying those words, moving through the slides you set up.

Synthesia also offers the possibility of training an AI model with your likeness and voice. This is a good option if you want to leverage your identity to quickly create talking head videos by just writing the script. Just be careful to keep your account secure, as anyone with unrestricted access to this tool could steal your identity and create deepfake content.

Pros of synthetic AI video platforms

Lower production cost for talking-head videos. Instead of hiring an actor and crew, you can simply write and generate the video. This also makes these kinds of projects more predictable, as there are fewer people involved and fewer steps from brainstorming to publishing.

Better than text-based content. Create content that’s a bit more engaging for most training and explainer video use cases by using AI avatars.

Cons of synthetic AI video platforms

Triggers uncanny valley reactions, especially on bigger screens. When something looks almost human, it can trigger feelings of eeriness and unease in viewers. This greatly impacts realism.

Low engagement format. Talking head videos are easy to produce, but they’re seriously limited in terms of their engagement value. This is especially true if you’re trying to explain complex ideas in a memorable way–or get an audience emotionally invested in your topic.

Low flexibility. These platforms usually focus on AI avatars, exclusively. If you want to create other kinds of video content, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

AI-powered video editors

This category is broader and more varied than the others we’ve explored so far. Here, AI video platforms have 3 objectives in mind:

  • Speeding up video production by automating parts of the workflow.
  • Adding special effects easily without needing to learn and use more advanced tools.
  • Repurposing video for multiple channels (for example, webinar to TikTok).
Descript AI image

In the Descript editor, editing the script automatically trims the video.

Descript is an example of a tool that speeds up production by saving time in the editing stage. It transcribes uploaded videos, placing the transcription and the preview window side by side. When you edit the text, the video is trimmed and cut to match those edits, a much faster experience than timeline-based editing. If this creates problems in the voice-over, you can use your voice to train an AI model within the platform, letting you use text-to-speech to patch parts of the video as needed.

Runway AI image

In addition to generative AI, Runway includes AI tools to manipulate video and speed up workflows.

As for special effects and simplifying production workflows, two options stand out. Runway lets you isolate subjects to remove background, detect scenes to automatically split the video or create a super smooth slow-motion video by generating more frames based on the original footage.

Wondershare Filmora AI image

Wondershare Filmora offers a wide range of AI tools in the editor, from special effects to motion tracking.

Wondershare Filmora, a long-standing option in the market, can generate video thumbnails, cut out objects from the background and animate visual elements with AI. The feature set is a great match for YouTubers and creative marketing teams, offering plenty of colorful effects and transitions.

Peech AI image

As you upload your original content into Peech, you’ll automatically get multiple branded versions you can share on your social media channels.

Lastly, AI content repurposing platforms aim to break down long videos into snackable tidbits ready to post on any social media channel, offering robust branding features. Peech is a prime example: after adding your brand assets, you can start uploading your videos. You can then break them down into multiple assets, customizing captions, aspect ratios and video frames to match the requirements of each channel.

Pros of AI-powered video editors

Higher quality with less effort. Instead of learning more advanced tools or going through dozens of hours of training, you can quickly implement motion tracking or create complex scenes.

Saves time. Some of these features automate parts of the video creation workflow, so you don’t have to deal with the repetitive work.

Cons of AI-powered video editors

Diverse feature sets. Each platform has its unique approach to video editing, so it may not have all the tools you need. You may still have to subscribe to other AI video software solutions for their niche features, which can get costly depending on your needs.

AI-powered video creation (Vyond)

How does Vyond compare with these subcategories? As an AI-powered video creation platform for business use, it has all the tools you need to create content consistently, with outstanding results—all without spending hours learning how to use every tool.

Here’s how our combination of generative AI, AI-powered video editing, and stock media search helps you produce better video.

Vyond Go

With Vyond, you can generate a professional quality script and video draft by entering a simple text prompt and choosing from a range of controls, including layout, vibe, format, and language. These options allow you to create scenario-based videos with characters, scenes, and transitions on any topic; videos featuring an animated talking head narrator; and character-free videos built from mixed media templates that feature narration, text, and stock images and videos. (Notably, animated narrators don’t suffer from the “uncanny valley” problem synthetic avatars do.)

Changes to the text and imagery can be made directly in Vyond Go, with the tool’s Quick Edit function. Or if you want to make more involved changes, you can bring your video file into Vyond Studio, the company’s flagship video creation platform (subscriptions to Vyond include both). Translating content into 70+ languages is also simple, with the platform’s AI Auto Translate feature.

What’s unique about Vyond is that it brings together a variety of powerful AI technology to give video creators both the freedom to make videos on any topic they can imagine–and the control they want over the final product.

Text to Prop

Text to prop animated image

Vyond has a deep library of props and assets you can use in your projects. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can use the Text to Prop AI tool to generate net-new assets in the Vyond style.

Video to Action

Video to action animated image

With AI Video to Action, you can record yourself carrying out a complex action in the real world. When you upload it to Vyond, their AI engine will automatically transpose that action into the characters in your video, both saving you time—and boosting the realism of your animated characters.

Choosing an AI video platform for your business

Adding a new niche video creation tool to your tech stack every time you want to try something new is the perfect way to quickly dry up your software budget. And when you need to use multiple apps to produce each video, you’re adding complexity (and additional learning curves) to your workflow, not simplicity.

This is why Vyond hits the sweet spot: by incorporating all the best features in this category, users are able to quickly create videos for any business use case in a wide variety of styles within a single platform. More specifically, Vyond:

  • Offers more control over your content than generative AI (ability to edit, update and brand content easily)
  • Helps you create more engaging content than synthetic AI platforms
  • Provides access to Shutterstock for stock media (one of the highest-quality libraries available)
  • Features a range of AI editing tools that cover the most common business use cases.

Getting started with AI video

Viable generative AI video isn’t ready for prime time yet, but there are plenty of powerful AI video creation tools on the market that can help you create content relevant to your business. Keep the above five groups in mind as you explore this exciting new category, looking for the best AI video tool to introduce into your company’s content workflows.

For a more detailed look at the leading AI video tools, check out this comparison piece. And to see for yourself how Vyond can help you create more engaging videos faster, sign up for a free, 14-day trial.