Technology

Deep Fake This – Fashion

The whole “Deep Fake” thing is something I have been interested in for some time. Each year it gets better and better, and as AI / Machine learning and technology advances being able to discern what is real, and what isn’t is getting harder. Where will this be in 10 years is hard to say, but the implications are pretty obvious. What does a person do when they can no longer tell if a video of someone is the real thing or not?

OK, enough of what could lead down a long and disheartening rabbit hole of despair about the future and how technology wreaks havoc on humanity.

To showcase the 2022 Spring Balenciaga fashion collection, creative director Marcus Dryden and the talented crew at MDC combined AI/machine learning, a real-time game engine, and hands-on VFX work to create a deepfake of American artist Eliza Douglas wrapped in every look from Balenciaga’s Spring ’22 collection. There is some live-action footage blended with CG and some solid post-work. They don’t say what the game engine is that they used, but I bet it was probably something like “Unreal”, or “Unity”. Below the video is a statement from Dryden breaking down the production.

“In Pre-production, we were able to plan the whole show. We used a games engine to previsualize which looks could be body doubles vs. which one needed to be the real Eliza. Also, the pre-viz defined the scale of the set for the art department and allowed production to choose the best lens, angles, and positions needed to run the multiple cameras in sync whilst on location.

During the shoot, MPC on-set supervisors Carsten Keller and Damien Canameras captured photogrammetry of Eliza’s face and oversaw a variety of in-situ plates to extract her face and transpose it onto the body doubles shot on the catwalk.

We also used a CG scan of Eliza’s head and an on-set photo reference to build a proxy Eliza head to help visualize the face replacements. This allowed our compositing team to study and analyze each shot, each face to define the best process to achieve the highest-quality clone.

The team then applied the best technique to create the face replacements: Planar tracking, roto animation, Keen Tools (a 3D tracking and modeling tool inside Nuke), and Machine Learning (AI/deep fake).

Once we began attaching Eliza’s faces, we matched light, textures, and motion artifacts using compositing. Using the references and the scan of the head, we made sure each clone’s face was as pixel-accurate to Eliza’s face as possible while still retaining the nuance of the specific Balenciaga design aesthetic.

The final film shows all the clones with Eliza’s photogrammetry-captured and CG-scanned face as they march down a minimalist runway to a sci-fi-inspired soundtrack composed by BFRND, which includes an AI voice narrating the lyrics of La Vie En Rose.”

Art or Ads?

Since 2010, Bombay Sapphire has partnered with the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation to showcase artwork from multicultural artists through its Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series competition.

To encourage votes for 2019’s competition, BBDO New York created a Google Chrome extension called Artifier’ that replaces banner ads with works of art. Viewers who see a piece of artwork that catches their eye can click on that painting to vote for the artist behind the piece of work. Voting ended on Nov. 7, but the extension is still available.

I really like what Bombay has done here. it’s a nice workaround if you don’t have an ad-blocker running in your browser. It promotes the artist competition, shows Bombay’s commitment to the arts, and it gets rid of all the targeted advertising that gets rammed down your throat with every browsing session. This is a subtle way to promote the Bombay brand without using heavy-handed advertising tactics. Plus my guess is that Bombay knows after most people install the extension, they won’t turn it off so it will continue to promote the Bombay brand all year. Clever.

Braun Audio Returns with the LE1 Reimagined by Precipice Design

Anyone that knows me, knows I am a huge fan of the industrial design work that Deiter rams did for Braun. His influence and the work he did for Braun can still be felt today on so many product lines by other companies like Apple. 

Braun has been absent from the audio world for more than two decades, but original stereo systems from the 50s, 60s, and 70s are still in demand. Not because they offer a superior audio experience, but because of the design and visual aesthetic they present.

The hottest Braun stereo collectible is probably the SK5 “Snow White’s Coffin” record player and radio. It is sublimely minimal in its execution with white powder-coated steel sandwiched between wooden side panels under a plexiglass case. The design was a radical departure for stereo gear when this was introduced in the 1950s. 

Snow White’s Coffin

One of my personal favorites from the Braun stereo family has always been the Braun Audio 1 from 1962. To me, it feels timeless. You can feel where it came from (the SK5) and understand the visual direction Rams was taking Braun over the next decade. 

1965 Braun Audio 1

In addition to the Audio 1, Braun introduced a set of minimalist speakers in 1959, the LE1. The LE1 is so simple in its design form. White rectangular slabs suspended on chrome tubular legs with a perforated black metal grill. The form is almost sculptural in quality and an even more radical departure from stereo systems of the day. You have to remember, in 1959 most stereo systems looked like a large wooden piece of furniture that would blend in with what was in your living room. The LE1 stands out. It’s meant to be seen as well as heard. 

The LE1 from 1959

The LE1 was the first electrostatic speaker available on the German market, the LE 1 provided a new housing for internal electronics produced by English engineering company Quad, then trading as Acoustical Manufacturing Co. Ltd. The LE 1’s electronics were based on the Quad ESL-57, producing a distinctively detailed sound that still stands up well against the standards of contemporary hi-fi systems today. At the time of its introduction, the speaker was technically and aesthetically ground-breaking. Within the Braun audio program of the late ‘50s, the LE 1 was intended to accompany the first Braun component Hi-Fi system, the Braun Studio 2. 

The 2019 LE01 Series

For the first time in 28 years, Braun is back in the audio business. Well sort of. Braun Audio is returning with a reinvention of the aforementioned LE speakers from 1959. A perfect reintroduction to the heritage of Braun Audio, the new LE Series focuses on the purity of design, purity of performance and the purity of sound Braun was known for in the past.

These beautifully minimalist speakers have been re-imagined by Precipice Design. The London-based design company developed all consumer and trade touchpoints including brand and product narratives, packaging, photography, iconography, digital assets (website, and mobile app), video content, and point of sale concepts, print catalogs, and advertising, helping to re-establish Braun in the premium audio sector.

When you look at the complete set of design materials that Precipice created for Braun you are immediately aware of the heritage of vintage Braun while positioning them squarely in the modern market place. The imagery that is used across all touchpoints echoes the minimalist aesthetic that Braun became known for, not simply in the products they produced but in the owner’s manuals, advertising, and packaging that was produced during their heyday.

As I looked at the new website that Precipice produced I was struck by how it so closely mirrored many of the Braun printed items I’ve seen from the 1960s an70s. The minimal color pallet, sparse layout, concise messaging. The same look and feel are carried over to the mobile app, and on to the packaging. With the packaging focusing on the purity of sound while focusing on the brand’s heritage. Only key information about the product shown on the packaging. The uncomplicated packaging is typical of Braun and reflects the aesthetics of the classic speaker through dark tones and a graphic of the speaker itself.

The speakers themselves are an homage to the original LE1 updated to reflect today’s taste and improved technologies. Where the original 1959 speaker would probably prove to be too large in today’s home environment, Precipice’s vision shows how the LE1 can be reimagined to fit more discreetly into one’s home.

The new speaker brings the same vision Ram’s had in 1959. A minimalist slab in white with a black grill floating above a chrome stand. The speaker is angled slightly backward, and the controls are almost invisible. Precipice also introduces a solid black version of the speaker and two additional sizes, all of which use the same visual language. 

Floor stands have been designed as well, but I have to say I don’t think they work as well. They seem rather chunky except where they have been extended and used with the smallest of the speakers.

There is no word on availability yet. I’m betting these will be available this fall for the Christmas shopping season. The product was introduced around the first of September this year so you would think they would be ready for sale by mid-November at the latest. Pricing will range from $1200.00 for the largest of the 3 down to $380.00 for the smallest.

I don’t need these, but I wouldn’t mind having them. Full information and specs are available on the Braun Audio website.

Paper Machines

Anyone from Hallmark that might be reading this, raise your hand if you remember “T-Ink” from 2004 and the products Hallmark produced for less than a year with the technology? T-Ink had so much potential and it simply withered and died on the vine. The T-Ink project was one of the first things I worked on when I returned to Hallmark. It was such a cool product, and could have been huge if they could have figured out how to market it better. Fast forward to 2017 and check out Papier Machine from French Designers Marion Pinaffo and Raphaël Pluvinage.

Papier Machine is a set of 13 paper-made electronic toys. Each piece of paper can be cut and folded and assembled into the final toy. Another intriguing component of Papier Machine is that while there are instructions that come with the kit, the steps are not clear cut. According to Pinaffo and Pluvinage they still want users to interpret the instructions themselves, opening up the pathway to more possibilities, especially for kids.

 

Like T-Ink, the printed paper is equipped with reactive, conductive, and thermosensitive inks, which actually complete the electronic circuits and allow the toys to function. The toys are designed for kids of all ages and don’t require any special tools, skills or training. The designers want Papier MAchine to be all about fun, and exploration.  The 13 toys can create multiple projects that include Switches, a Gyroscope, Playing Track, Writing Track, Tilt Switch, Humidity Sensor, Wind Sensor, Mass Sensor, Power Reverser, Photoresistor, and Color Sensor. Pretty cool if you ask me.