An Apocalyptic Reality Show Has Won The First-Ever 48-Hour AI Film Contest

2026 is an apocalyptic reality TV short film looking at the disastrous lives of two friends and their alien pet called Carl that was entirely generated by artificial intelligence (AI) and made in just 48 hours.

2026 took home the inaugural Gen:48 AI film competition, the first contest of its kind, which saw creators make a short film using the Runway generative AI programs: Namely Gen-1 and Gen-2.

The video still leaves a lot to be desired as not every scene is made up of coherent images and classic AI artifacts such as hands with missing fingers are plain to see.

However, it does show that text-to-video generators are improving with PetaPixel reporting back in July that Runway had released an update improving the quality and the smoothness of its outputs.

“The winning submission, 2026, was written, directed, and produced by Dan Hammill and Jeff Wood, and used Runway to storyboard the film and input video outputs through Gen 1,” says a spokesperson.

“It’s a great example of how Runway’s tools can be used throughout the creative/editing process to tell stories with ease and speed.”


What is Runway ML?

Runway describes itself as an AI research company and has created multiple tools that aim to either create images and video from nothing but text descriptions or enhance still photos by giving them motion.

One of the problems that has plagued AI-generated video — including Runway’s early attempts — is a “creepy crawly” look to footage since generators appear to have a problem understanding what part of video needs to remain constant and what part can move. The result looks like every piece of a video is somehow in motion, which is incredibly off-putting.

In June, Bloomberg reported that Runway raised $141 million in funding from Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Nvidia Corp., Salesforce Inc. and other investors.

Runway’s funding is an extension of a $50 million Series C financing round and in total the machine learning company has raised about $237 million.

To see all the finalists for Gen:48, head to the competition’s website.