Singer M.I.A’ s ‘Popular’ music video shortlisted at the Kinsale Shark Award!

News April 18, 2023

The Shark Awards is a well established festival of creativity held annually in Kinsale, Ireland, since 1962. Each year, the festival is celebrating brillance in advertising, digital, short films and music video. This year, the jury selected the  M.I.A’s “Popular” music video in the “best international music video” category.

In this video directed by Arnaud Bresson and produced by Division, M.I.A tackles influencer culture by featuring a robot influencer in her likeness with artificial intelligence. This robot, named M.A.I, has only one goal: to be liked and popular. Throughout the video, the real singer trains her robot counterpart to reproduce human movements and, of course, to gain popularity.

For the art direction, the director Arnaud Bresson had an exact idea of the style he wanted to give to robot. He wanted the robot to be creepy, realistic and disturbing. A mask was made of the singer’s likeness to bring his vision to life. The artists from The Mill Paris were then in charge of bringing it to life. They used artificial intelligence to add a look, DeepFake for all the expressions, especially the lips, and then animated it with 3D. Beyond the clone, our artists worked on the motion design animation sequence when the screens and videos appeared successively. Finally, our artists shot textures in Paris, such as the one used to burn the clone at the end. Through this hybrid use of tools (AI, 3D, DeepFake, motion, shoot, and more), we managed to bring M.I.A’s clone to life and fulfill the vision of the singer and the director.

Discover all the shortlists here.

“During the pre-production discussion about the look of the M.I.A avatar, Arnaud Bresson, director at Division Production, was clear about his vision. He wanted to avoid a meta-human or game character look. He was looking for a hybrid avatar. Something that makes the spectator uncomfortable, he shared with us some videos of robots you can see with a silicon mask.

They used a prosthetic mask for the shot. This mask was static and had no eyes. Our first step was to reintroduce sight, which should feel static and catch our attention. To push further the uncanny valley feeling, we trained different models of deep fake. One with M.I.A to push towards a perfect match, one with the MAI mask, to introduce some expressions on the static performance. Some shots were matchmove in 3D, and the face was animated to introduce some lip sync and expressions. Using all these ingredients, we used flames to combine these different passes.

There was also much work from our motion design team led by Olivier, followed by Agathe and Yohann with creating and animating all the social network interfaces. Arnaud wanted to avoid any extensive VFX for the destruction to keep it analogue. He wanted to have his look. With the producer Laure Salgon we shot with different layers of fabric melting. We combined all these burning pieces with sparks during this 15sec shot.

The video look was then accentuated and magnified with the talent of Arthur Paux for the final grade.

Working on this music video with Arnaud was very inspiring. We tested new techniques and new crossroads to follow his vision. This film was shot with an old-school video camera and a good combination of hidden tricks, Artificial Intelligence footage and CG renders. What a journey”
Franck Lambertz, VFX Supervisor & Executive Creative Director

Want to get in touch ? Contact us here.