David Blecken
Oct 17, 2017

McCann's AI-CD tries its hand at a music video (sans music)

“Create a stimulating video that conveys hunting instinct through a tone of ennui using a school motif and objectification.”

McCann Worldgroup Japan’s ‘AI creative director’ (AI-CD) has reared its robotic, er... arm, again. Its latest venture is a music video with no music.

The AI-CD is an experimental piece of technology designed to support (not supplant) human creative direction. It works by feeding on a large volume of historical data as to what has been successful in terms of past content.

A robotic prop McCann uses to represent the AI-CD concept.

In this project, it developed a promotional film for Magical Punchline, a Japanese pop group affiliated with the Pony Canyon record label. Unusually however, the song is still in development (the beat in the video above is a placeholder only). Instead of taking inspiration from the music itself, the AI-CD focused on music-centric TV commercials. Based on its analysis, it recommended the following creative direction:

Create a stimulating video that conveys hunting instinct through a tone of ennui using a school motif and objectification.

McCann says this is a world first—at least in terms of a reverse-order music video being produced under the direction of an AI system. We can’t verify that, but it does seem unlikely that anyone else would have attempted such a thing. The closest example that comes to mind is a film by Dentsu for Brian Eno from last year.

The exercise for Magical Punchline presented unique challenges in terms of dancing and lip-synching. The production team eventually settled on a tempo of 135 beats per minute and avoided clear shots of the singers’ mouths.

Campaign’s view: The first question that comes to mind might be ‘why?’. But it’s undeniably a fun and intriguing exercise, and the video is actually not too bad, especially relative to the AI-CD’s first effort at directing a TVC, which was just too random. Even without music, the video manages to create a somewhat dark atmosphere.

Personally, we find high school imagery a bit tiresome, but the AI-CD’s insistence on using it is testament to its popularity. Still, the AI-CD’s handlers need to guard against drawing on past references too closely, as in the hooded figure that presumably resembles the “hunting instinct”. Striking a balance between being relevant but unexpected will be key to the success of the AI-CD’s future efforts.

Campaign Japan

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