Neural Networks Made This Russian Film Trailer Look Amazing

Everything is more dramatic when it's bathed in Prisma filters

When everyone wants their 30 seconds of Internet fame, what happens to our IRL relationships? A whole lot of drama and angst, as imagined by Dmitry Nikiforov and Aleksei Korneev, the makers of Delete My Photos, a Russian film following a young man’s dreams of developing a new dating app.

As many parts of our lives are these days, their trailer is bathed in filters — a unique approach to a tool that’s as become second-nature as selfies. They ran key scenes through mobile photo editor Prisma, which uses convolutional neural networks to combine photos with artistic styles, modeled on, for instance, Van Gogh and Roy Lichtenstein.

The trailer outcome is like a fluttering, painterly lucid dream. “The final result was mind-blowing,” director Nikiforov told Popular Science. “We did not know how it will be and what expect till the end, because nobody’d done it before in cinema.”

Delete My Photos
Capturing the warm glow of a bar. Dmitry Nikiforov / Burned Bridges
Delete My Photos
An intense moment, possibly discussing photos that she wants deleted. Dmitry Nikiforov / Burned Bridges

With the emergence of AI-inspired film — we’ve seen it write screenplays and reconstruct cult classics — they wanted to tease the Internet-centric film with a style straight from their source material: Internet culture. But the learning curve was steep: “It is rather difficult to do, because even if get open source code you must have not only good hardware, enough knowledge to set up, understand all the settings, and have enough patience to read forums,” said Nikiforov. In comes Prisma, with all but the video editing component, to solve their accessibility problem.

“We see how technologies influence storytelling and visual component. It seemed to us that neural networks are one of the newest instruments for transforming an image into a new visual style, which means new emotions and experience for audience,” the director said. The one-minute teaser took 3,000 frames, uploaded and processed individually, and several days to set each frame’s parameters to move seamlessly with its neighbor’s.

Russia was Prisma’s initial “pet market,” Venture Beat reported, with even the Russian Prime Minister swiping to find the perfect filter for his ‘gram.

Nikiforov says they’re hoping to see AI and neural networks used in more in filmmaking, to uncover styles and visual storytelling not yet explored in cinema. Robot, we’re ready for our closeups.