Story at the Center

This blog delves into the intricacies of aligning the C-suite around compelling narratives to achieve unprecedented success.

  • JUNE 9, 2022
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Re-skinning Reality to Tell Inspired Stories

Eric Melin

Creative Director

Here at 1P, we use our proven Discovery as a Service method to solve complex business problems. Once we and our clients have arrived at a Unified Narrative Framework, we're always looking for inspired ways to execute that storytelling strategy.

So much energy (especially in big-budget Hollywood SFX) has been put towards imitating realism. But since we can tell our computers to make imagery look like virtually anything, why rush towards realism? As machine teachers, we can go the other way, with impressive results. What if you could re-skin live-action footage to match a pre-existing brand visual style?

To answer that question, we built a new workflow using techniques in style transfer and texture synthesis. In the example below, we converted a piece of stock footage into many styles—simple black-and-white outline, charcoal drawings, and colorful watercolor animation—that could be easily branded.

It’s now possible to take live-action footage—be it stock or something original—and apply a new style to essentially “re-skin reality,” turning something ordinary into something extraordinary.

It’s not as easy as pressing a button, but there are now several tools that make use of machine learning and give businesses the power to up-level their storytelling.

At its first virtual conference, we helped a client tell a future-tech story with some illustrations in a Keynote presentation. But the following year, we wanted to update that story, bringing that future into the now.

Using re-skinned stock footage, we were able to bring animated characters to life in that same recognizable illustrative style, giving the audience the feeling that the world that could be was becoming the world that is.

Then, to cement the metaphor once and for all at the end of the story, the animated characters in that illustrative style became real.

Everyone behind the scenes knew of course that it was some clever reverse engineering, but to the audience, the recognizable illustrations from the year prior had become real people. (We also cast an actress who looked like our year-one illustrative character to actually come off the screen and walk onstage with the CEO, but that’s another subject).

Maybe you’ve thought about extending your visual brand guidelines into character animation to tell a more emotional story? Or maybe you’ve got some dull live-action footage that you’d like to make come alive—within a visual expression of the brand?

Let’s say your brand is expressionistic, for example. Here’s Paris, converted into moving Picassos:

Using a combination of techniques, quality animation can be achieved in any format, even 3D.

There’s still plenty of clean-up and detail work to be done after AI does its job, but style-transfer video processing allows us to layer pre-existing artistic styles on top of real footage to achieve quality that was previously cost-prohibitive, especially at such a rapid pace.

As enterprise marketing audiences become increasingly segmented, it becomes a challenge to create customized stories for each segment that will resonate.

1P has developed new techniques from this technology to do just that.

The Story at the Center blog shares insights and strategies that have helped organizations—from startups to Fortune 100s—harness the power of storytelling to navigate complexities and dominate their markets.

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