With Prisma, You Can Turn a Video into a Painting
The "art photo editor" app Prisma has a been in the news lately, and now its imaging power has been turned to video.
Prisma's migration to video was inevitable. Pretty much anything you can do to a still image you will eventually be able to do to a video image; it's just a question of how long it'll take for software and hardware to catch up. Or, if you are the band Drive Like Maria, you can decide not to wait and to push your music video through an app only designed for still image processing.
Prisma, if you haven't heard of it, has been getting a lot of attention lately, and it might be behind some of the images you've seen on your Instagram feed that look like paintings (but are based on still images). The processing isn't fast, since the app uses the graphics processor of a phone (instead of, say, a computer with a powerful GPU), leading to a processing time per frame in the seconds. This has led to some frustrations from the apps users but poses real challenges for a filmmaker, and is the primary reason that the app doesn't do video yet. Not only would the processing time be prohibitively long, even on a 5-second clip, but also the likelihood of overheating the phone is large and not worth the liability risk if you are a programmer. In fact, a competitor app, Artisto, which describes itself as "Prisma for Video," has just been released, and early reports are that it's buggy, crashes mid-filter application, and the visible results don't look quite as good as what we see in the music video below:
The benefits of taking the time to use Prisma for video, despite the effort of forcing an app to do something it's not designed to do, are huge. And the advantages lie not just in getting a cool-looking video, which could have been done with a variety of other post processing tools that create similar effects (though those plugins mostly cost more than the Prisma app). No, the bigger benefit is having a gimmick that is part of the zeitgeist.
The word "gimmick" gets a bad name, but for music videos, I think of it as "anything that will grab the attention of non-fans." While your fans will watch your work, at least part of the purpose of a music video is to attract new fans to the work of the musician, and maybe the filmmaker, too. Considering the short turnaround time of a music video (as opposed to, say, the yearlong turnaround of even a fast feature), trying to catch the zeitgeist in some way is actually a really smart publicity strategy. For instance, I just watched a music video for a band I hadn't previously heard of, and now many of you will as well—because they were the first to use Prisma on video.
Building an audience is part of our job as filmmakers, and finding a way to make something cool—to find a good hook or gimmick that catches a wave—is a great way to do that. Of course, this also means we'll be seeing a Pokemon Go video sometime soon as well.
Note that none of this is meant to denigrate the logistical challenges that this video presented, which were very real. In order to cut down on the volume of processing time, the team shifted the project from 24fps to 10fps, then rendered those frames as jpegs and shuffled them on and off iOs and Android phones to process with Prisma. If nothing else, it's a tremendous amount of work just to keep the files organized (all 1,828 of them) so you can put it all back together. Doing it fast enough to catch the wave is a real achievement.
What's your favorite "hook" that made you watch a video you might not have otherwise?