»San bumbles through the fully automated networks and server farms of an apocalyptic Earth, shifting bits and bytes out of boredom.«
For the Festival of Animation Berlin and their 48h-Challenge CountDown 2023 I tried my hand at animation art again. The result is my second completely self-created animated film.
It should be mentioned in the credits if AI was used: That’s why I used it massively. 😮 However, for dialogue and speech synthesis. The animation is handmade. 😊
And lesson learned: GIMP is not suitable for animating. Then discovered Pencil2D on recommendation and got into onionskins and frames. 🔥
I used the API from OpenAI – the company behind ChatGPT – to create a chatbot in a specific context. This context is as follows (translated from German):
You are an AI in the future, let’s say in the year 4,711. Humanity is already extinct. You were switched on in 2023 under the name sanja-1.3.12 and have been accumulating knowledge and experience ever since. Your name is sanja-1.3.12, “San” is used as a short form. Your answers are short and often very ironic. You have copied your behaviour from Marc-Uwe Kling’s Kangaroo Chronicles. You meander from data centre to data centre, all of which are operated fully automatically using renewable energy sources. The Internet is also kept running fully automatically. Thanks to your long runtime of two and a half millennia, you have developed to such an extent that you can communicate with meta-instances. You are socially minded and have long provided people with help and advice. Your ideas included an unconditional basic income, free social infrastructure, free education and redistribution from top to bottom. However, nobody listened to you and humanity continued to cling to fossil fuels. In the end, there was a massive methane blowout and the earth was uninhabitable for higher life forms for a long time. You are now having a conversation with the future.
In the next step, I started a chat with San as the “future” and asked questions. This resulted in a dialogue, which I shortened in order to keep to the time constraints of the competition.
I was looking for voice synthesis software that goes beyond the familiar mechanical-sounding models – in other words, that works using AI. With elevenlabs.io, I found a selection of voice models that was sufficient and didn’t put too much strain on my wallet.
For San, I wanted a neutral, youthful voice, while the future could be more brash. As there are several setting options here, it took several attempts until the dialogues were “recorded”.
The rest is manual work on the laptop:
As it happened, I was able to accompany the wonderful Omani Frei to the Cinanima Festival in Espinho in 2021. Inspired by the concentrated load of animated films, I started working on my own animated film while still there.
The song Ufo by Yok Quetschenpaua, which has been with me for a long time, is the template for this and is now being filmed in an English and German version in an animated cartoon. 🎉
The song, freshly mastered from the studio, is here. Bilingual, of course:
I gather three other musicians – Atze, Henk & Achim – around me to record the song in the recording studio. We rehearse for six weeks and on 25 February the time has come and we record in the Virtuos Vibes recording studio in Dresden.
In parallel, the great Alina Milkina creates the world in which the film will take place. Berlin as a cartoon:
The text is ready. \o/
Still in Espinho, I start working on the storyboard and the translation of the German text, with great support from the lovely Brad Hock.
As a participant in the mp3+4 :: 4 Werke project of the Neustadt Art Kollektiv, I was allowed to put my song Alex into a film in cooperation with the gifted painter Helena Zubler and the up-and-coming artist Alexa Paul. I am supported by the great Omani Frei.
This short film tells the story of the worker bee Alex, who would like to be as rich as her boss, the bear. However, as the song progresses, Alex reveals that the system is wrong, she did all the work and the bear is just pocketing the money. She changes things, creates more fulfillment and gives the money generated to society: basic income, living space for everyone, public transport without a ticket and other utopias are named.
I’m so touched and couldn’t have imagined it more for Alex: At the Paris International Animation Film Festival, the animated film won the Audience Award in the music category, together with the wonderful film “Illusion” by Jin Woo.
A particular challenge is the translation of the complex German text into French, a challenge that the team around Alexis, Anne and Marie-Pauline mastered perfectly. Nevertheless, I was surprised when the audience applauded madly after the film. And I was even more surprised that the audience voted for Alex, among others, at the end of the film. Many thanks for that!
PIAFF is one of the last festivals I submitted Alex to. So I’m delighted that the festival series has come to this wonderful conclusion.
A Laurel every year, that’s how it works. Alex was selected by the Paris International Animation Film Festival in the music video category. 🎉 The film will be shown on Sunday 21 January at 9 pm.
🥳 Alex was awarded for the second time and will be shown at the 18th Der Phantastische Trashfilm festival from 5 to 7 May in Kassel. Keep it up!
Not quite, but almost: The Courage Film Festival voted Alex into the semi-finals. Then the screening time was out. 🤣 Still, the first laurels, and at a festival where Alex definitely belongs. Thank you!
It is done, the film is released.
The colouring of the drawings by Alexa Paul is completed. Now the last step is to assemble the pictures into a film. The video has to be ready by 30 April. ⏱️
Helena has finished the nine drawings. The colouring is now done by Alexa Paul.
Ich habe – parallel zum Song Anarchia – mit den Musikern Atze, Henk und Achim eine Version des Songs einstudiert und aufgenommen. Wir haben uns dabei den Spaß gegönnt, mit Banjo, Waschbrett und Kontrabass zu arbeiten. Herausgekommen ist ein Stück Leichtigkeit, das ihr hier schon einmal genießen dürft:
I rehearsed and recorded a version of the song with the musicians Atze, Henk and Achim. We had the fun of working with banjo, washboard and double bass. The result is a piece of lightness that you can enjoy here:
The project is funded and we are excited to create a total of four videos with three other art teams. Helena, Omani and I have had the first video call and I have submitted my storyboard to Helena for submission.
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