What If The Matrix Was Made In The 1950s?

We’ve noticed a recent YouTube trend of producing trailers for shows and movies as if they were produced in the 1950s, even when they weren’t. The results are impressive and, as you might expect, leverage AI generation tools. While we enjoy watching them, we were especially interested in [Patrick Gibney’s] peek behind the curtain of how he makes them, as you can see below. If you want to see an example of the result first, check out the second video, showing a 1950s-era The Matrix.

Of course, you could do some of it yourself, but if you want the full AI experience, [Patrick] suggests using ChatGPT to produce a script, though he admits that if he did that, he would tweak the results. Other AI tools create the pictures used and the announcer-style narration. Another tool produces cinematographic shots that include the motion of the “actors” and other things in the scene. More tools create the background music.

Once you have all that, it is straightforward to edit it together as a video. If you want to try your hand, many of the tools have some free tier, although you might not be able to do everything you want in one shot with free tools. [Patrick] reports he spends about $70 a month to get full access to the tools he uses, but he also mentions some other alternatives.

You have to wonder how long it will be before you can just get an AI filmmaker tool that does the whole thing in one swoop. However, doing it in pieces like this does give you a bit more control. In particular, we were interested that some of the “secret sauce” was using negative prompts to prevent certain behaviors in certain tools.

We were hoping [Patrick] would send up Star Trek, but for that, we had to check out [Rafa Reels]. Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to the 1950s. For example, [Patrick] also wondered what it would be like if Star Wars were made in the 1990s with [Sir Sean Connery] as [Obi Wan]. Thanks to him, you don’t have to wonder.

30 thoughts on “What If The Matrix Was Made In The 1950s?

  1. “If you want to see an example of the result first, check out the second video, showing a 1950s-era The Matrix.”

    Speaking of Matrix, there are other films like that. “The 13th floor” (1999) or “World on a Wire” (1973).
    The world on a wire is interesting, because the VR is set in ca. the 1930s, I think.


    Unfortunately, films like “The 13th Floor” and “Dark City” had been overshadowed by “The Matrix”.
    Probably because they had required more thinking, I guess.

      1. Agree 100%. The 13th floor, Dark City and eXistenZ are among my favorite movies of all times. Somewhat similar because they all come from the same era like The Matrix, but also very different and all worth a rewatch after some time.

  2. As static images these are fun, but the video are not actually animated
    As they are they are just click bait and they are everywhere
    If this is the best that AI can do I do not think hollywood has anything to fear

    1. “Haha AI can’t do faces or hands, if this is the best it has to offer then I don’t think anybody has anything to fear”
      >AI gets very good at doing faces and hands in a few months
      “Haha this isn’t full-motion video, if this is the best it has to offer then I don’t think anybody has anything to worry about”
      >Rinse and repeat

      1. >Rinse and repeat
        Exactly! The pace at which AI has been improving is staggering.
        I’m sure folks are already using AI to make better AI, so expect acceleration.

        In many ways, the pace is too fast, with society unable to keep up with the repercussions.

        In other ways, improvements can’t come fast enough.

        We live in interesting times.

  3. So the process is get ChatGPT to write a quick dialogue.
    (rinse and repeat many times, until it gets something that resonates with the human creator)
    Get a different AI trained on one voice or many similar sounding voices to read that dialogue.
    (rinse and repeat many times, until it gets something that sounds about right to the human creator)
    Get a different AI to generate a bunch of images that match the dialogue
    (rinse and repeat many times, until it gets a few images that look okish to the human creator)
    Get a different AI to generate a few seconds of movement using the images provided and the magic keywords “1950s Super Panavision 70”
    (rinse and repeat many man y times, until it gets something that looks okish, or will do if played in reverse).

    Add the narrator voice to the video, edit in the video clips that match short trailer script the best, overlay audio and video imperfections to give it that old time look and crackling sound.

    Sounds a lot like the Infinite monkey theorem.
    (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem )
    Given enough time something ok will be produced.

  4. I’ve seen many 50’s movie, but I NEVER heard that static crackling noise in any of them.
    I mean they don’t have to guess, there are full real 50’s movies on youtube.
    Also they put stars from the 70/80’s in ’50’s’ movies, makes no sense.
    All in all it’s really a pretty poor effort isn’t it?

    1. Also that was the weirdest looking 1950s-era Sidney Poitier I’ve ever seen. Just not even close. When the voice said who it was supposed to be I was like “what the heck are you talking about?” Hepburn’s fine, but the expression’s so close to a ton of her stock photos that you might’ve been able to just Photoshop it.

      1. That ‘Marlon Brando’ in that ‘matrix’ thing also looked 0% like him. Looks more like the Sopranos guy.
        It’s odd since there is so much material to train an AI on, and if it fails you can just try again until you get a passable result.
        Can they even properly use AI prompting? Or did the video guy prompt for a Sopranos guy and then the guy who wrote the voiceover changed it since he needed a name from longer ago.

    2. I’ve seen a lot of old movies in the theater. Once the print gets pretty well hammered (and trailers in particular are treated poorly and get a lot of plays), the optical soundtrack is definitely compromised. The crackling sound isn’t exactly right, but neither is the rest of the video. Note that digital copies generally come from archival prints, and are subject to some level of audio restoration.

      What pulled me out of this trailer was the “old-timey” music, completely inappropriate for a drama of that era. Here’s a real science-fiction trailer from 1951:


    1. i used to take really good care of my cds, but sh1t happens and stuff gets scratched. the point is to make celluloid look aged, like its been in a vault for several decades. granted a print would be pristine in its day, when a film had finished its run it would wind up in vaults and in private collections and would take damage from improper storage. by the time the technology got to a point where we could make a near perfect digital copy, the second law of thermodynamics would have taken its toll no matter how careful the humans were.

      if you wanted to see metropolis, i believe there are still parts missing. with the rest of the film cobbled together from the best surviving sources. it would have been something to see on freshly printed celluloid. but when i watched it the quality was all over the place.

      1. Yes, but damage from improper storage doesn’t cause specks and scratches. It causes mold, fading in color film, vinegar syndrome, and shrinkage, among other things. Specks caused by dust can be cleaned off. Scratches on the base can also be dealt with. The most common result of unavoidable wear is at the sprocket holes.

  5. Not that impressive at first glance, then you realize what is going to happen in a few years to film making (music, etc.) and wonder how much will cost in, say 10 years or less, a system that reads our book collection and spits out Hollywood quality movies for each of them with our favorite actors. By that time, movie/music stars better give up fighting against AI use of their image/voice/motion tracts and start mass selling at affordable price rights for individual use, otherwise they’ll need a Great Firewall of Hollywood to protect from the predictable media invasion from places where their rights count nothing.

  6. That “50’s Matrix” trailer was terrible. Like almost all things “AI” floating around the interwebs these days. Sounds awful, looks awful, no originality, no creativity. Congrats, you’ve invented an entertainment black hole, where no mediocrity can escape.

  7. One guy with $70/month AI subscriptions. The stop motion Lego guy, from 20 years ago, would be hard pressed to do it at that price.
    But it still shows, you need someone that pulls all these things together. I think he did a fine job.

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