Is Runway Gen-2 the Best AI Tool for Indie Filmmakers?

There is a new wave of indie filmmakers who are using generative AI-powered tools to create visual content. Let's see how...

There is a new wave of indie filmmakers who are using generative AI-powered tools to create visual content. They are exploring a frontier influenced by the most advanced technology available for public use today. I personally believe that this trend will only get bigger with time.

It's difficult to predict what the future holds. I can't tell which new companies might pop up suddenly and become dominant in their niche. But at the time of writing this article, I believe Runway Gen-2 to be the best AI-powered tool for indie filmmakers.

There is no doubt that this tool will only get better, but even today it's incredibly powerful. In fact, if you were to write a text prompt and show the video that was generated from it, it would seem like magic to most people. Today, I'm going to show you how to use Runway Gen-2 to create scenes for a short film.

runway gen-2 for indie filmmaking

What Is Runway Gen-2?

Runway Gen-2 is an AI model that was released in March 2023 and instantly became a hit. That wasn't too surprising at the time considering that the Runway research company has been in the artificial intelligence industry since 2018 and is known for its innovative tools. They're also a company that co-created the popular open-source text-to-image model called Stable Diffusion.

The Runway AI platform consists of different tools. For instance, there is a tool called Gen-1 that basically enables you to edit existing videos and apply a variety of effects to them. Meanwhile, Gen-2 enables users to create videos from both text descriptions and images.

For me personally, this is one of my favorite AI-powered tools. I use it every month and I get so hooked on making videos that I usually spend my whole monthly allocation of credits in only a few days.

How Much Does Runway Gen-2 Cost?

There are a few different price plans that are available on the Runway AI platform. In case you're interested in using models like Gen-2, you should think about how often you're going to use it. Here are the three choices you have when subscribing to the platform:

  • The standard plan comes with 625 credits on a monthly basis and will set you back $12 per month. This basically gives you the option to create 31 standard videos each month.
  • The pro plan costs $28 per month and gives you 2250 credits each month. In other words, you'll be able to create 112 standard videos every month.
  • The unlimited plan will set you back $76 per month and comes with 2250 credits that you can use for fast video generations. However, you also get an unlimited number of generations at a relaxed rate.

If you're new to this platform, I suggest that you start with the standard plan and then upgrade if you like the product.

How to Write Runway Gen-2 Prompts

I want to clearly state that I don't have any experience in filmmaking. However, I have been using generative AI models for quite a while and like to think that I know a thing or two about writing prompts.

I think that indie filmmakers can add a nice touch to Runway Gen-2 prompts because they know the right terminology. Essentially, you should give instructions to the AI model as if you were a cinematographer. You can set the camera speed in the options, while you can always mention the camera view and angle in your prompts. You can also describe a certain color palette and lighting in a scene.

Since I have a lot more to learn about cinematography, I'm mostly focused on using my writing skills to describe a scene as best as I can.

Some of the information I include in my prompts relate to the film style I want used in a scene, the main theme, the camera view, the general atmosphere in a scene, and the environment.

If you're interested in experimenting with a variety of styles in your prompts, I suggest that you check out my article on Runway Gen-2 film styles. It includes excellent prompt examples that can spark your creativity and help guide you to create something great with this AI model.

Runway Gen-2 Prompt Examples for Indie Filmmakers

I have written seven prompt examples for this article to showcase the capabilities of the Runway Gen-2 AI model. I tried to incorporate as much variety as possible in these examples so it can be useful for filmmakers across different genres. Let's check them out.

prompt #1: western film style, a poker table is scattered with playing cards, whiskey glasses, and abandoned cigars. The chairs are pushed back as if the players abruptly left, leaving the saloon frozen in a moment of suspended activity

I watch a lot of films, and I never thought that spending so much of my free time in that way would ever be useful until I discovered the Runway Gen-2 AI model. I started this prompt by picking a specific film style and then I built a scene I could easily imagine being in a movie in this genre.

It's important to clearly describe the scene but avoid mentioning any unnecessary details. Keep your prompts concise. When writing this prompt, I tried to imagine a scene set in the interior of a saloon. It didn't take much time to write the prompt, as I could picture people playing poker, smoking cigars, and drinking whiskey. However, I wanted to ensure that there are no characters in the video.

I feel like this could be the perfect intro scene to a short Western film.

prompt #2: 3D animated film, close-up shot of a curious and adventurous fox with large expressive eyes, who stumbles upon a hidden enchanted forest, children's film, 3D animation

3D animation with the Runway Gen-2 model is out of this world. You can create stunning visuals that would be hard to believe were generated by artificial intelligence from a simple text description. Although this is a good result, don't always expect the video will be good the first time you generate it. The model still has a lot to learn as far as movement of characters is considered.

It's common to have to generate a video several times to get one result that's perfect. That's what happened with this prompt. But when you get that one great result, the effort is worth it.

Keywords like "children's film" can add a lot to the aesthetic in the generated clip. Notice how I also mentioned that the fox has big and expressive eyes. This is also an important detail. Although you don't really see the enchanted forest, that's completely okay. After all, it's a close-up shot of the main character. I just include details like this to make the story in the prompt complete.

prompt #3: film noir scene set in a smoky café with a muted color palette where a detective is sitting, the air is thick with suspense

You can't expect to get perfect results when there are several characters in a scene. The movement of some characters may seem unnatural. There's also a chance that the faces will be distorted. But that's okay because you don't really notice it unless you pay attention. I suspect that there will be tools in the future that you can use to edit these small errors.

All in all, this is an excellent scene. Observe all of the details featured here. There are so many lamps, chairs, and other objects. This is an incredibly complex clip and it's amazing that an AI model can produce something like this.

prompt #4: sci-fi film scene, wide-angle shot of a futuristic spaceship entering a gigantic galaxy, the wonders of the cosmos, exploring the universe

There were a few different clips that I could've chosen to include here. However, the design of the spaceship in this one made me decide that it stands out the most. Even though I wanted to see the galaxy in the background instead of what appears to be a spaceship landing on a planet, I'm still very happy with the result.

There were some cool results that featured flying saucers, but I'm not too fond of that type of design. It's been used too much in the past, so I was looking for something a bit different. It would take a lot of skill, time, and effort to create something like this if you were to design it from scratch. Meanwhile, Runway Gen-2 generated the video in less than 30 seconds.

prompt #5: fantasy film scene, magical land filled with alluring vegetation, huge plants, colorful palette, mysterious world, fairytale aesthetic

Whenever I think of fantasy films, an enchanted forest is the first thing that comes to mind. I imagine huge plants and colorful scenes. Let's take a minute to talk about this prompt and the video it produced.

When I was writing it, I imagined plants that you wouldn't really get a chance to see in the real world. Then I started to look at the videos that the AI model produced from my prompt and I noticed this beauty. It isn't completely true to my description, but I was blown away by how it looked.

Apart from being used as a scene in an indie fantasy film, I think that this clip can also be used as a loop for a YouTube video that features relaxing music.

prompt #6: abstract video, the emergence of an artificial intelligence's creative mind, as lines of code transform into abstract visions, reflecting the algorithm's attempt at self-expression

I wanted to do something really different with this prompt to show you how you can create special effects with Runway Gen-2. If you need an abstract clip to use, you can easily create one on this AI platform.

I like to describe abstract ideas and concepts to AI models to see what type of results they'll produce. For this one, I wanted to see the inner workings of a generative AI model. Of course, you can describe pretty much anything you want. But when you're making an abstract video like this, it's important to clearly describe to the AI model what you're looking for. That's why I included the keyword "abstract video" in the beginning of my prompt.

prompt #7: 2D animation, flat animation, minimalist, film style lone cat sits at a small table in a coffee shop, the scene characterized by clean lines and muted colors, 2D animated

Apart from 3D animation, you can also make 2D animated short films using the Runway Gen-2 model. The same rule I mentioned below the 3D animated clip applies here - you might have to generate several videos until you find one that looks good.

I feel like this scene alone could inspire someone to create a short film out of it. It can also be used for a lofi chill music mix on YouTube. It's up to you to find ways to use the videos you create on this AI-powered platform.

Final Thoughts

There will always be a divide among visual artists whenever a new type of technology pops up. I think we'll soon begin to see that on a bigger scale with AI-powered tools. Similar to how CGI got all sorts of backlash when it first started being used and now it's hard to see a film that doesn't include any computer-generated special effects because it's an affordable way to create a quality scene.

I don't get influenced by any type of noise like that. I believe that people should have the freedom to create with any tools they choose. It's fun to explore new technology and see how it can be used to further benefit your creations.

I also think that technology like this opens the door for people who might've otherwise never had a chance to create something like a short film. With text- and image-to-video generative AI technology, you can use your creativity to create video content in a completely new way. And I encourage you to use this opportunity and explore this new frontier with like-minded people.

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