How Tool is Reimagining the Commercial Production Process with Runway

Dustin Callif is the President at Tool, one of Ad Age’s 2024 Production Company A-List standouts. In addition to their best-in-class filmmaking and production capabilities, Tool has begun to incorporate generative AI into their creative pipeline, pioneering how generative AI tools like Runway can bring new creative approaches and efficiencies to their clients.

Tool, along with acclaimed director Wes Walker, are behind Under Armour’s new ad campaign called “Forever is Made Now”, which features professional boxer Anthony Joshua. Facing a limited production timeline and no access to in-person talent, Walker and Tool leaned on Runway and AI-powered tools to supplement their use of traditional techniques and VX to bring their vision and campaign to life on time, and within budget.

Hi Dustin, thanks so much for the time. Tell us about how Tool is viewing emerging technologies like generative AI.

“At Tool, we’ve been helping brands leverage AI in advertising campaigns since 2016. With generative AI, we continue to look for new ways to enable consumers to engage with brands and consume content. I’m finding that what we’re currently seeing with generative AI is the most exciting opportunity since the rise of the internet. The reason I say that is because we’re finding that AI is allowing us to work with our clients to provide both creative and business value.

Across the industry, marketing budgets are getting smaller, margins are getting tighter, and everyone is saying ‘hey, how can we still tell powerful brand stories, in a creatively interesting way, but do it more efficiently?’ Platforms like Runway are allowing us to do that.”

Tell us about “Forever is Made Now.” What went into that campaign, and what were some of the initial challenges you had to face?

“Our incredible director on this project, Wes Walker, landed on the story and the vision from talking to Anthony Joshua’s team directly. Anthony is hyper focused on the present when it comes to his career, and that championship mindset is where ‘Forever is Made Now’ comes from.

Once we landed on the concept the challenge became bringing it to life, because we didn’t have access to Anthony, who was deep in training mode for his next fight. To bring the idea to life, we took a mixed media approach where we had an AI pipeline, mixed with a visual effects/CG pipeline, and licensed footage from previously shot Under Armour commercials.”

What did that AI pipeline look like more specifically? What tools were you using?

“We started with text-to-image and generated thousands of stills that we curated into groups of images. From there we animated those stills with Gen-2, and edited it together with the licensed footage. We then used text-to-speech to generate the voiceover since Anthony was in training and we had no access to him. Everyone was blown away by how good it sounded.”

How much time would you say Runway saved you on this project?

“The entire project took us 4 weeks. The first week was purely ideation and concepting, then it was 3 weeks of production, which is pretty fast for creating something like this. Typically, especially when you’re working with a global brand and a professional athlete who requires multiple rounds of reviews, the timeline is usually 5- 6 weeks on the quick side. Not only did we save those weeks, but the budget would’ve been exponentially higher if we had to go a more traditional route.”

Do you see this technology becoming an integral part of your production process?

“I do. We’re all in on helping our directors and brands use AI to improve the production process and are using it in almost every aspect of our business. I can't wait to see how Runway continues to evolve and how we're going to be able to use it to develop the stories we want to tell.”

Like most new technologies, there are some who are concerned about these tools making their way into the production pipeline. How do you feel about that?

"There is a creative community of incredibly talented filmmakers, crews and post teams and I hope these new workflows allow for the industry to evolve and be even better makers of commercial content. I continue to believe that live action production is integral to the future of brand storytelling. At the same time, the industry is changing and as this happens, I hope that Tool will be at the forefront of providing our directors, brands and agencies with as many creative solutions as possible."

To see more about how this campaign came to life, watch the behind the scenes:

About Tool

Tool is a creative production partner with 25+ years of live action content expertise and 15+ years of creative technology work in the marketing industry. The company has been helping brands and agencies leverage AI since 2016. Tool is at the forefront of leveraging Generative AI for advertising campaigns, as well as helping brands automate lower funnel marketing content. The company is able to marry the craft of commercial content production via access to a best-in-class roster of directors with an AI powered content pipeline. Tool works directly with top brands like Amazon, Netflix and Under Armour and agencies such as Droga5, 72&Sunny, and DDB. Since its launch, Tool has created work that has won over 1,000 prestigious awards across content and creative technology, including Emmys, Cannes Lions, The One Show, SXSW, The Webby’s and AICP.

To learn more about Tool and Forever is Made Now, head to their website:

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