Monday, 13 March 2023

AIs & EKI pulled it off: the VIDEO

Mary Jane's pet gallery (Little Margie Productions 20©23)

After 'experimenting' for a year, it was a big kick to finally see what Eki and I had hashed out over. "Mary Jane's pet gallery" is 45', and has a point of view and a punch line. Eki was a brick to give me a first-level tutorial in the process. 

The year went by - ChatGPT and Midjorney changed our blog. The illustrations are on a whole other level. But it was a jolt when it wrote posts. When the New Yorker and the Economist used the same AI apps as Eki I was over the moon. 

All the way through the process I had no idea what the video would look like. The photos we took of the animals and the voiceover were done the old-fashioned way - on a smartphone. 

AI's infant stage is amazing. But when it gets to be a teenager and grows up will we love it, or will all hell break loose. In the meantime it's a runaway boffo: ChatGPT has over 100 million users. It was fun to jump at the beginning with our AI video. Check it out. 

Sources: Eki, Annie Lavigne (photos), Augustin du St Remy, and Maggy (voiceover)

Next week: GenZ (1997-2012) LUDDITES switch OFF

Note: First of all, i'll just paste the Youtube blurb here...

Mary Jane's pet gallery is an experiment in AI-assisted video production. All of the source material for this video was created using artificial intelligence. The gallery, all the paintings, and the starring pets were created using text-to-image AIs, namely Midjourney, Dall·E 2, and Stable Diffusion. The animation is a combination of traditional techniques and warping using AI-generated depth maps. The facial animation for the pig was created using thin-plate-spline-motion AI model, transferring the motion from a video from Maggy's live performance, recorded with a cell phone. The audio for the dialogue was also recorded simultaneously by phone, then processed with Adobe Podcast AI. The music is an AI creation, made with AIVA. Directed by Maggy Fellman & Eki Halkka Edited By Eki Halkka

...and that pretty much tells most of the story. In addition to the year's worth of posts here explaining and documenting the process, of course.

This most definitely was a case where the journey was more important than the goal - though gotta say, I'm really happy with how our little experiment turned out in the end. I would have dived into AI stuff regardless, but working on this project was a much better learning experience than just randomly dabbling around would have been - there was a method to the madness, an actual goal towards which to push the learning curve - all in a safe setting where a failure would not have been the end of the world (unlike in, err, so-called "real paid projects", where every work-hour needs to add real value to the client, or they'll find someone else).

Overall... really glad we did it. Kudos to Maggy for being Naggy, and pushing me forward.


Tuesday, 14 February 2023

CONDOMS come in handy: ask a CUBAN

Waterproof trinkets by Stable Diffusion

That cheap universal contraceptive is a multi-purpose tool for Cubans.  Kids use them for slingshots and party balloons. Fishermen use them for floats. Women tie up their ponytails.  Chevie owners lubricate them to shine the dashboards.

Bar-hoppers fill them with rum when they so they only have to buy one drink. Vintners use them as stoppers on giant glass wine bottles - when the condoms are erect the carbon dioxide is evaporating; when they go limp the wine is ready to drink. Brilliant. Inspired, I filled one with water and dumped it from my balcony on a bunch of loud out-of-tune crooners. Condom revenge.

Subsidized by the Communist government, condoms are cheap – 10 pesos (four cents) for a package of three. Most are made in India and users complain that they have a bad smell. A good gift when you visit Cuba is to bring them as gifts. Hats off to the CUBANS.

Source: The Economist

Next week: A bunch of AI:s & Eki pull it off 

A submerged vocalist by Midjourney & Eki


Here in Finland, the one-size-fits-all solution for all your life hacking needs is not condoms, but rather... pantyhose. It's a long-lasting tradition that the Niksi-Pirkka magazine publishes new creative uses for pantyhose in its user-submitted tips and tricks column. Over the decades, there must be hundreds now, if not thousands. Here's a Google translation of some select ones.

As for the creative uses of condoms, they're good for waterproofing gear. Microphones do not like water, and it's a well-known trick to put the mic in a condom if you need to submerge it to record some scuba action. Or just to protect it from rain etc.

Finally - of course - I had to ask ChatGPT for some creative life-hack uses for condoms. 
  1. Waterproofing your phone or other electronics.
  2. Protecting a cast or bandage during showering or swimming.
  3. Storing and preserving small items, such as matches or USB drives, in a waterproof and airtight container.
  4. Stretching over the top of a can or jar to create a tight seal and prevent spills or leaks.
  5. Using as a makeshift rubber band or hair tie.
  6. Slipping over a microphone to protect it from wind or moisture.
  7. Covering a wound or blister to keep it clean and dry.
  8. Holding ice or cold packs in place for first aid or pain relief.
  9. Filling with water and freezing to create an improvised ice pack.
  10. Using as a glove to protect hands during messy tasks, such as painting or cleaning.
  11. Using as a grip enhancer for tools, sports equipment, or even pens and pencils.
  12. Slipping over the end of a vacuum cleaner hose to create a makeshift dusting brush.
  13. Covering the end of a shower head to create a rain-like water flow.
  14. Filling with lotion or other fluids and sealing shut to create a portable travel-sized container.
  15. Using as a protective cover for a bike seat or handlebars during rain or snow.
  16. Stretching over a lightbulb to create a diffused lighting effect.
  17. Covering the foot of a walker or cane to create a non-slip grip on smooth surfaces.
  18. Using as a makeshift water balloon for impromptu outdoor games.
  19. Filling with birdseed and hanging to create a DIY bird feeder.
My microphone trick got on the list - the others are pretty good too.


Wednesday, 25 January 2023


"AI Pet Zoo" by Midjourney 

Dig into your hash-stash and check out “Maryjane's...”. A year ago Eki said he had an AI app he could play around with when I wanted to do digital art. A pal took photos of toy animals and we did a voiceover.

For Eki AI has been a boon. But not all the news is rah-rah. Schools will have to adapt – AI can write almost perfect papers. When AI gets a "conscience', will it be good or bad? “How ChatGPT* Highjacks Democracy” was an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.

New AI apps keep popping up. Just found out I can talk to a ChatbotGPT version of Karl Marx and a bunch of other famous people. Shuda, an AI supermodel starred in a Louis Vuitton** ad. Whoa. We're on a wild rollercoaster ride. Feels good to get a little stoned. Light up.

*Microsoft has made a $10bn bet on ChatGPT.

**LVMH has hooked up with GoogleCloud to invent AI Apps for their companies

Sources: Economist, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Eki, Annie Lavinge, Augustin de Saint-Remy,

Next week: CONDOMS come in handy: ask a CUBAN

"The AI takes over the world" by Midjourney AI

Note: It's indeed been a wild ride over the last year or so - yet it seems we're still just cruising in the suburbs in this journey, still only just approaching the freeway. Following AI development closely, I'm more and more convinced that it will change everything we humans do, and I mean that quite literally. Currently in line: the creative professions from writing to coding to art to research.

Lately, the tempest in a teapot has been the visual arts community, and the way AI image generators will make many art-related jobs obsolete - usually disguised as a copyright issue, without real merit to those claims - the real beef is the fear of becoming unnecessary.

Sure, it's indeed a big deal for all those illustrators and stock photographers whose work will be replaced by ai images... but that's still just a side note of the AI revolution. The whole AI imaging technique is pretty much just a byproduct of machine vision research that's been done for intelligent robotics and self-driving cars.

As the AI models are becoming multi-modal (not specialized in text or images etc. only, but integrating all of them), we're perhaps quite close to the so-called singularity, the point where AI becomes superhuman.

Now, *that* is putting the pedal to the metal on the freeway.

To the subject at hand, turning the Pet Zoo into a video, 
it's in the works. There are some AI tools that I will use to assist with that. But it will still be sort of "dumb", in the sense that I will need to produce the motion, either animating by hand or by acting the motions to a webcam, then using AI to transfer my captured movement into the movement of the AI Pet Zoo animals.

But we are on the verge of a very different kind of AI video - where just like with images, we simply type what we want to see, and the AI will create a video automagicly. This kind of tools already exist, but only in the chambers of the research labs - they'll likely be in the hands of us mere mortals later this year. These will be fun and interesting tools to play with, but similar to what's happening to illustrators, they will also bring the AI apocalypse to my turf, the video post-production job market.

Interesting times. And terrifying. And exhilarating. Whoa.