FLOAT3RS is a wry look at Artificial Intelligence that is so advanced, that it’s no longer that intelligent. This time we join three floating warheads as they discover that there may be a bug or two in their latest operating system update.

After the success of their back-to-back Vimeo Staff Picks with “Floaters” and “Floaters: The Big Number Two,” Joseph Roberts and Karl Poyzer return with the highly anticipated third installment, “FLOAT3RS.” This time, they dive into the world of Artificial Intelligence with their signature wit and humor. “FLOAT3RS” takes a satirical look at AI, presenting a future where artificial intelligence is so advanced that it starts to lose its edge. The story follows three floating warheads as they grapple with bugs in their latest operating system update, leading to a series of hilariously misguided attempts at fulfilling their programmed duties.

The film features the talented voices of Lucy Briggs-Owen, Verity Henry, and Kathryn Bond, who bring the quirky A.I. drones to life. Roberts and Poyzer’s keen eye for satire and animation blends seamlessly with the timely topic of AI, making “FLOAT3RS” a delightful and thought-provoking addition to the “Floaters” series. With its sharp humor and engaging storyline, “FLOAT3RS” continues to push the boundaries of animated storytelling, ensuring that this third installment is as memorable and entertaining as its predecessors.

FLOAT3RS has a wry and satirical take on AI. What aspects of AI did you find most ripe for humor, and how did you balance the comedy with the underlying serious themes?

Karl: Like most things humans take their hands to, it’s hard not to find at least some of it funny. We’re a mess and the things we make are often messy and as a team we do our best to milk that for all its worth. AI is an interesting one because it seems to be coming very quickly for all of us and the only defence mechanism we have is to mock it. Something to discuss with a therapist perhaps.

Joe: A.I. has always been funny to us. Since A.I. is about replicating human intelligence, the human side of that will be the interesting bit. Only Idiots would make something more intelligent than them. A.I’s getting less funny since the silicon valley tech bros started investing their billions to try and make it a terrifying reality, but hopefully they’ll start losing money on it and dump it just like they did after ruining TV, Music and Taxis.

The film critiques the dark side of AI. What are your thoughts on the role of AI in art and creativity, especially considering the low to no-budget filmmaking world?

Karl:Since finishing Float3rs, the discussion around AI has of course become more fervent and divisive. Having spent a lot of time online listening to other artists and animators it feels pretty straightforward to me that generative AI not only threatens jobs, but perhaps more importantly the feeling of hope which fuels a lot of artists to keep going. I worry for those who will never find their stride in this new world because they will never have an opportunity to learn how to walk.

Rowan: I 97.3% agree with Karl. 2.7% of me, which is probably about a toe’s worth, did think that in an ideal world, AI would lower the barrier of entry for certain creative types. Storytellers who maybe didn’t have the platform, tools, skills, money, or friends/contacts to help bring their thoughts to life. We don’t live in an ideal world though (corporations and botulism, for example).

The A.I. drones are voiced by a talented cast. How did you select Lucy Briggs-Owen, Verity Henry, and Kathryn Bond for these roles, and what did they bring to the characters?

Joe: As with every Floaters project, this film lives or dies by the quality of the performances of the voice actors. If the radioplay of the film doesn’t make us laugh out loud, then it’s a doomed task to try and make it into a film. Lucy, Kat and Verity are all brilliant actors and extremely good improvisers, so it’s a matter of giving them the script and staying out of their way and letting them do their thing. The more natural they can be, the better for us.

The soundscape and music are integral to the film (and the series). Can you talk about your collaboration with Tom Pugh how their contributions shaped the final product?

Joe: A good sound friend of mine always says:

“Film is an A/V medium. Audio then Visual. The audio comes first.”

This is even more so for Floaters. The vocal performance needs to be supported and elevated by brilliant sound design. Tom Pugh has been instrumental in bringing the Floaters-verse to life. Tom’s been so generous with his talent and his time, knowing how to make the engine of a floating warhead feel just right, the intercom to sound as funny as it can, the Italian restaurant ambience to sound authentically Italian. He’s a genius.

Float3rs features floating warheads with quirky operating systems. Can you discuss the design and animation process behind these AI characters and the technical challenges involved?

Karl: The warheads thing came from a 2D image I made years ago. Rowan, our writer, saw the image, promptly became obsessed, and devised a little scenario that he and Joe fleshed out. Design-wise, we were lucky that these characters were comparatively simple and it meant it kept rendering times fairly manageable. This was done in a time before I had a computer designed to run Blender so this was a big consideration in those first few years. Those same limitations meant we had to retain the 2D matte painting backgrounds which has become a style choice in all our episodes to date. I hope this is something we continue to do going forward.

What future projects are you both working on, and will we be seeing any more Floaters in the near future?

Joe: Rowan and I have been writing lots of Floaters scripts as they are just so fun to write. We’ve also recorded another episode with some familiar voices. We’re also looking to make some shorter stuff too. Our day jobs have been taking us away from it. Karl is DOPing a feature this summer whilst writing a video game and I’ve been directing some comedy series for the BBC here in the UK. But Floaters is always something we’re desperate to get back to.

Since last time, have you seen any new short films that marked you?

Joe: We all love Joe Bennett’s stuff. We were all blown away by what he and Charles Huettner made with Scavengers’ Reign and Joe’s short stuff he has been releasing online is also brilliant.