Speaker Spotlight: Duncan Thomsen’s Insights on Integrating AI in Film Editing

We caught up with Duncan Thomsen following his recent panel discussion at a Brighton AI event. Duncan is an award-winning film editor with extensive experience in integrating AI within the film industry. He also offers a fresh and unique perspective on the use of AI.

Can you share a bit about your background?

Duncan Thomsen, from London and now living in Brighton, has both English and Norwegian roots and a career spanning over thirty-five years. He is a film editor, AI artist and award-winning short-film director, collaborating with broadcasters such as the BBC, Discovery, ITV, PBS, and Netflix. He has gained prestigious awards, including a ‘Best Documentary Series’ EMMY for ‘The Ascent of Money’, National UK TV Awards and international awards and nominations.

Duncan’s use of AI design marked a pivotal moment, propelling him into the spotlight with viral works that reimagined classic themes through modern technology. His AI-generated projects, such as an AI Jesus selfie and a contemporary reinterpretation of the Last Supper, demonstrate his innovative approach to storytelling. He has produced eleven AI online virals to date and stands as the most commercially published UK AI artist globally.

His partnerships with major brands for their debut AI commercial projects including Nissan, Virgin and Simba, demonstrate his ability to blend creative vision with mass appeal. Additionally, Duncan edited and provided key artwork for Coca Cola and Minute Maids’ inaugural AI feature shorts for the 2024 Runway Film competition.

Beyond his viral successes, Duncan has edited a broad variety of entertainment shows, documentaries and films, showcasing his versatility and depth as an editor. He has directed many short films, with a win for ‘Best Comedy’ – Los Angeles PFF and ‘Best in Festival’ – Heart of England FF. This diverse experience has given him a unique perspective on narrative construction, enabling him to craft compelling stories across diverse platforms.

Duncan Thomsen’s career also demonstrates adaptability in the ever-changing landscape of digital storytelling. Through his work in editing, directing or AI design, he continues to make a significant impact on the industry with his fresh perspectives and steadfast commitment to storytelling excellence.

Did you come up through a “traditional” techie route or has your career taken twists and turns along the way?

I came up through editing and making films on 8mm with my friends. Tech has always been key and so I’ve moved along with it as it’s improved and offered new ways to use footage.

Reflecting on your career, is there a specific moment that stands out as pivotal or defining?

Sharing he EMMY changed the way I was perceived as a professional, and then finding the Jesus Selfie. Winning first awards was amazing and also more recently winning Best Comedy peaked my career.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self as you embarked on your professional journey?

Stay with a company, don’t be freelance as I miss the people I work with and it’s rare you see them again on the circuit.

Looking ahead, what’s your big prediction for the tech landscape in 2024?

Video 4K AI will change the game completely for film makers. This is here, and about to be rolled out. Can’t wait.

Considering your involvement in Silicon Brighton and community-building, what does the concept of ‘community’ mean to you personally? How important is it in the tech industry?

It is very important to have community to share common knowledge and experiences. Plus having friends and support is important when looking for ways to ride fluctuations in work.

How do you balance staying updated with the latest industry trends while ensuring continuous personal and professional growth? Any specific resources or practices you find particularly valuable?

Youtube is a great source of news and some basic training. Attending events like the ones Silicon Brighton supports, are vital to get knowledge and exchange ideas.

As someone who has contributed significantly to the community, how do you see mentorship playing a role in the development of the next generation of tech professionals?

Mentorship is key for many reasons, one is to help others and be proactive in that but also that it can be useful in finding people to carry out job functions. It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know that can assist or advise you.

Is there any additional wisdom, experience, or anecdotes you’d like to share with our audience?

My advice is to approach tech and updates with a childlike awe and openness to development. The biggest issue i’ve seen in my career is people not moving with the times and wondering why work has dried up when they offer 20 year old solutions to modern needs. Stay up to date, train often, and use constantly.

Anything else you would like to promote to our community?

If anyone would like to learn Ai for film making, I have courses starting and happy to advise anyone wishing to find out more.

You can find Duncan on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/duncan-thomsen-bb5310185