“The Crow” AI Dance Film

I shared this post by Martin Harbech not long ago on my LinkedIn profile and added about 500 words of my own commentary. If you have a LinkedIn account, I encourage you to find my original post because the split screen-like video there is the best and I’ve not been able to find it elsewhere. If you can’t access LinkedIn, the thing to do (not a bad idea even if you CAN see the side-by-side short video on my original post) is to watch both the original short, PAINTED, and immediately follow with the AI Interpretation, THE CROW. Most will have their mind blown. The response to my post surprised me because it was probably one of my most viewed posts this year, even though it was radically different from most of which I usually post or write about. One thing I do want to mention though is that while trying to edit, modify, do a few things differently from what was LI, I discovered that I can’t find any way to get the video embedded in Martin’s post to play — that combo-video. Fortunately, I have links to both the original short film that inspired the AI interpretation and while I honestly preferred seeing them playing simultaneously side by side, this worked well too because the sample on Martin’s post is an excerpt from these two short films, so in watching each of these in their full length times of like five minutes each (!), you get a much better feel for what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish and it gives you a different and bigger perspective. So by all means, please watch the first and then the other. I doubt you’ll forget these. I’m including the link to my early LinkedIn piece but for those of you who can’t access LI, again, this is a version of what I posted with links to the videos below. Please comment because I’m interested in what people think about this. Thanks!   – Scott


[To my LinkedIn network:] How about something COMPLETELY different today? Tired of geopolitical posts, commentary on China, Russia/Ukraine, NATO, espionage?

(Ever see the series called The Americans? Welcome to Mr. Muller. 10 years as a sleeper in Brazil. Others caught in Iceland, The Hague, etc. It’s not a game.)

I’ve had a hell of a week or two, had to do a lot of emergency traveling back and forth out of state. There’s been a lot I’ve wanted to write about but have been unable to and I have been frustrated. Thus I thought I’d go with a different topic today, but the neuroscience research I’ve been reviewing and a post on something *I* find cool didn’t do much for me, mostly because I’ve learned that topic is the least interesting one I write about for my network. I try to keep up with other areas I’ve been involved in but no longer am and I found this fascinating piece I’m posting for you. A lot of people have seen this but many of you probably haven’t and I know I don’t do justice for thousands of creative people in my network— especially the musicians, singers, dancers, actors, performers and artists. So while I hope many will find this intriguing or beautiful or [insert adjective], I especially hope those of you in the arts – and definitely those interested in AI as well – will appreciate this. Many describe this short film as “beautiful.” I’m curious to see if anyone will post a comment and if any will feel something else. Martin stated this project won the Jury Award at the Cannes Short Film Festival. And it IS mesmerizing! But as I frequently wrote about some years ago as we moved toward more complete/complex automation, especially within the military community, it’s no longer about research and defense anymore. Ultimately ethics and existential concerns drew in everyone from philosophers to theologians to ethicists, futurists, psychiatrists, etc. AI challenges accepted definitions of humanity, no longer so universally black and white. Asimov’s I Robot was cited frequently. A question might be whether anyone sees plausibly legitimate drawbacks to something otherwise beautiful. Ultimately most of you may not care and that’s fine. People have always told me I’m too “serious” or I often take something basic and wonderful and overthink it, twisting it into scenarios that would make Sartre proud. (I like to substitute “eclectic” for “weird” as well.) If you want to do the sane and normal thing and watch this for simple pleasure, curiosity, or any other reason, please do! I just wanted to introduce something out of character for me, one which might interest people who haven’t been exposed to this movement and I think I’ve succeeded.


Originally posted on LI by Martin Harbech.

[I have line edited for brevity but changed nothing at all in the process — no text, content, anything.]

This project is mesmerizing! The future potential of text-to-video AI is mind-blowing.

You might have noticed how text-to-image models like DALL·E and Midjourney have exploded on social media in recent months… but now an AI project won the Jury Award at Cannes Short Film Festival. ‘The Crow’ is a fascinating and thought-provoking glimpse into what’s ahead. An important milestone on the path to a new era of content production.

Pioneering computer artist Glenn Marshall found inspiration in a wonderful viral choreography short film from 2012, PAINTED, and used frames of the human dancer, Dorotea Saykaly, as image reference input in a neural network called CLIP from OpenAI. The result?

A beautiful short film where each frame of the human dancer is interpreted by the AI as “a painting of a crow in a desolate landscape.”

It’s still early days, but imagine the incredible potential when voice-controlled text-to-video AIs become mainstream. Simply describe what you want to see and have it immediately appear… and then consider the potential when you apply this technology to 3D environments. Instant immersive world-creation only limited by our imagination. A new era of human creativity on the horizon.


The two films that make up this amazing project:

  1. PAINTED
    • A “screendance” film about our tug-of-war with wilderness
      • Duncan McDowall, Director
      • Dorotea Saykaly, Choreographer, Performer (Dancer)
    • Awarded Best Dance Film at the 2012 Fastnet Short Film Festival and nominated for Best of Festival and Best Original Music.

Original project (full version): https://lnkd.in/esbFhi4m

A short clip I made for this post: https://youtube.com/clip/Ugkxnc6nBEgvSGHZAAu4edPxsLLSuAD7DGYO


2. THE CROW

  • In this animation, artificial intelligence (AI) is used to transform a dancer into a crow. The result is a haunting and compelling piece that follows the crow through its brief dance in a landscape of post-apocalyptic barrenness, to its inevitable demise.
    • Based on the short film ‘Painted‘ by Duncan McDowall and Dorotea Saykaly
      • Winner (Best Short Short) – Cannes Short Film Festival

AI interpretation (full version)https://lnkd.in/eiv8WPzu

A short clip I made for this post: https://youtube.com/clip/UgkxQf5_ae_X1YuKNrHcxEEU6DXUXcthHb8w

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