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Tim Burton Tim Burton

In a recent interview with The Independent, Tim Burton discussed key moments from his life and career, including his studies and work in animation and the shock he experienced when seeing AI images created to parody his modern gothic style.

“They had AI do my versions of Disney characters!” he told the publication. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”

The specific images Burton was referring to were published by Buzzfeed, which used Midjourney to determine “what these [Disney] movies would look like if they were directed by Tim Burton.”

Burton wasn’t entirely dismissive of the results and said he thought some were “very good.” However, just because he thought the final images looked interesting doesn’t mean the director approved of the methodology used to generate them.

Describing how it felt to see AI-generated images imitating his well-developed style, he said, “What it does is it sucks something from you. It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”

The complete profile is an entertaining read and includes passages where Burton bemoans growing up in Burbank, talks about walking around Calarts naked, and explains his mixed feelings about modern-day Disney, the company that years ago put him through college and gave him his first industry job.

“It’s like a family,” he said, describing his relationship with the company. “I can look back and recognize the many, many positives of working there and all the opportunities I’ve had. I can acknowledge each and every one of those very deeply and very positively. Equally, on the other side, I can identify the negative, soul-destroying side. As in life, it’s a mixed bag.”

Tim Burton photo credit: Gage Skidmore, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Jamie Lang

Jamie Lang is the Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.