7 prompts to get amazing videos from Pika Labs

AI video
(Image credit: Pika Labs/Future AI generated)

Pika Labs is one of my favorite AI tools. It lets you generate video content from text, image or another video — essentially, you can turn an idea into motion.

The year-old startup just raised $80 million, bringing their total funding to $135 million. They plan to use this money to continue to build "the best video foundation model" and products for creators.

All of the AI video platforms are in a race to upgrade their models to allow for higher resolution, longer and more motion accurate generations before OpenAI officially releases Sora later this year. One of the big challenges is teaching the models real-world physics.

I decided to come up with seven fun prompts you can use with Pika Labs to get interesting creations. Each video is just a single shot 3-second clip but its a good way to learn how to play with the platform.

Prompts to try on Pika Labs

For each of the prompts I've created it describes the scene and a rough indication of motion. If it requires more than just a pan or tilt you'll want to go into the settings for the video and increase the motion strength, but most can be left on default.

You can also apply a custom style to the video using the recently launched Style feature. This only works on text-to-video but can be a great way to give the clip a more consistent look, especially if you're generating multiple clips for a video.

I also applied sound effects to each of the videos. This feature tries to match the sound effect to both the prompt and the generated video. You can also create your own sound effects independently using ElevenLabs or Cassette AI.

1. Historic Landmark in Its Prime

The prompt: "The Colosseum in ancient Rome, bustling with activity, with crowds cheering and gladiators in the arena, surrounded by the grand architecture and vivid details of the Roman Empire."

Originally I tried to get it to transition between ancient and modern Rome but it struggled with that delicacy of motion. I also tried an exterior view but it looked boring, so I tried to create some form of interior scene. This would have been better as an image-to-video prompt, using text to steer the motion.

"The Colosseum in ancient Rome, bustling with activity, with crowds cheering and gladiators in the arena, surrounded by the grand architecture and vivid details of the Roman Empire."

2. Futuristic Skyline

The Prompt: "A dynamic skyline of a futuristic city at dusk, featuring flying cars zipping between illuminated skyscrapers, advanced public transportation systems, and vibrant holographic billboards."

Most AI video tools are pretty good at city skyline fly-throughs and Pika Labs is no exception. It wasn't perfect as it didn't really show the billboards or transport.

"A dynamic skyline of a futuristic city at dusk, featuring flying cars zipping between illuminated skyscrapers, advanced public transportation systems, and vibrant holographic billboards."

3. Mythical Creature Encounter

The prompt: "A unicorn gracefully walking through an enchanted forest, its mane flowing gently in the breeze. The forest is illuminated by soft, magical lights with sparkling dust swirling around, creating a serene and mystical atmosphere."

I originally tried to create a flying dragon but it struggled with the wing motion, either resulting in bad merging or no motion at all. But it handled the unicorn well.

 "A unicorn gracefully walking through an enchanted forest, its mane flowing gently in the breeze. The forest is illuminated by soft, magical lights with sparkling dust swirling around, creating a serene and mystical atmosphere."

4. Interstellar Voyage

The prompt: "A spaceship gliding past a stunning, colourful nebula, its lights reflecting off the vibrant gas clouds and stars, capturing the awe-inspiring beauty and vastness of space."

This came out like something out of a 1960s sci-fi b-movie but I really liked the way it looked so decided to keep it in. You can play around with the prompt to improve the overall quality and design. Sometimes simpler is better.

"A spaceship gliding past a stunning, colourful nebula, its lights reflecting off the vibrant gas clouds and stars, capturing the awe-inspiring beauty and vastness of space."

5. Fairy Tale Scene

The prompt: "A glowing fairy flitting around a whimsical mushroom house in a magical forest, leaving a trail of sparkling light as it moves, with the enchanted scene illuminated by soft, mystical lights."

This is about the closest of all the prompts I tried. Pika Labs got it spot on and even captured the motion and sound perfectly as the fairy moves towards the mushroom.

"A glowing fairy flitting around a whimsical mushroom house in a magical forest, leaving a trail of sparkling light as it moves, with the enchanted scene illuminated by soft, mystical lights."

6. Wildlife in Action (image-to-video)

This is created from an image generated in Midjourney and then put into Pika Labs. 

Image prompt for Midjourney: "A snow leopard leaping gracefully across rocky terrain, captured mid-air with its powerful muscles and sleek fur in sharp detail, set against a backdrop of a rugged mountainous landscape with a clear, crisp sky. 16:9 aspect ratio. --ar 16:9"

Motion prompt (to go with the image) for Pika Labs: "A snow leopard leaps across rocky terrain, captured in mid-air as its powerful muscles flex and its fur ripples in the wind."

It took a lot of tweaking of both the motion prompt and motion settings to get this to look and work the way I wanted. You'll need to set the motion strength to at least 3 and the consistency with text to 19. I also ticked the zoom option.

7. Art Gallery Display (image-to-video)

The first time I used the prompt with Midjourney it gave me a gallery where every painting was the Mona Lisa. Adding the word centerpiece fixed that problem.

Image prompt for Midjourney: "A modern virtual art gallery with polished floors and soft lighting, featuring the Mona Lisa as the centerpiece. Other classic artworks are displayed elegantly in the background. The scene includes visitors walking by and subtle animations in the Mona Lisa's smile. --ar 16:9"

Motion prompt (to go with the image) for Pika Labs: "In a modern virtual art gallery, the Mona Lisa painting is the centerpiece with her smile subtly widening. Visitors walk by in the background, creating a lively and engaging atmosphere."

I enjoyed the weird blurring of other people in the scene and the way it seems to be a first person perspective as you walk towards the Mona Lisa.


More from Tom's Guide

If you enjoyed the prompts this week why share your output with us and then try out a series of Google Gemini prompt ideas or even make a story, song and images from previous weeks.

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?