Which Movie Directors to Use for AI Images?

When using an AI to generate a cinematic shot, a lot of what can make or break an image is wise utilization of styles. There could certainly be whole posts written about prompting for camera angles, lighting, or other factors. But this one will focus on the effect of using different directors as a style guide, and give you some recipes to try out on your own.

How I picked these directors

There are no shortage of iconic movies. I picked some that AI generators seem to get right. There are directors that AI's seem to struggle with (especially those where framing and a sense of calibrated object position is critical).

I was never quite able to get Alejandro González Iñárritu's style (Director of The Revenant). These kept falling into the uncanny valley.

Wong Kar-wai

Rose-tinged, muted, Asian environments.

This works for when you want a realistic Asian environment. His colors are muted, and rose-tinged. It may help to mention one of his movies by name in the prompt (Mood for Love, Chungking Express, or The Grandmaster).

"An establishing shot of a man taking a sip of whisky, film still from Mood for Love, golden hour, Wong Kar-wai"

Sofia Coppola

Yellow tinted, hazy, urban environments.

I was really impressed by the results from this one. For this particular image, it's worth noting that DreamStudio had no idea what a "molotov cocktail" was, and displayed a dark drink instead of an incendiary weapon. Once I removed the word "cocktail," it got the gist.

"An establishing shot of a man throwing a molotov at a protest, film still from Lost in Translation, twilight, Sofia Coppola"

Denis Villeneuve

Artistic, muted, somber.

While testing out Velleneuve's work as a style guide, I noticed that even if you note which movie you wish for the style guide to be from, DreamStudio tends to leak styles from different movies by the same director. It seems that mentioning a director and a movie by that director gets a blend of the styles. Mentioning a single movie seems to simply fail, however. Attempts to get an image in the style of Blade Runner 2049 without mentioning Velleneuve's work looked ghoulish, at best.

I sadly lost the prompt for this one. 

Barry Jenkins

Photorealism, warm palette

It took a bit of time to get the AI to grasp the concept of someone looking through a chainlink fence for this prompt. I had to reference "the movie Moonlight" instead of just "Moonlight" for it to understand I was referring to a film instead of a light source.

"A man standing behind a chainlink fence, film still from the movie Moonlight"

Paul Thomas Anderson

Warm, California tones, bright hues

A few movies by this director are The Master (blues and greens, naval setting), Inherent Vice (California), and There Will Be Blood (blacks and crimsons).

"Establishing shot of a man sitting on a wooden stool, staring at a burning house in the distance, film still, Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice,"

Enjoy, and let me know what you create. :)

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