The promo is directed by Yasha Gruben and produced by Bill Posters’ company Big Dada Limited which specialises in what it describes as “broadcast-quality, synthesised media content”, ie deepfakes. Posters gained notoriety and sparked debate for his work last year when he released a series of films that appeared to feature famous figures from Kim Kardashian to Mark Zuckerberg.
For the new film, Lil Uzi Vert appears to make ‘Boom’ calls to multiple celebs, and viewers are shown endless scenes of scrolling online content where the rapper appears as characters from history.
“We hoped we could create something really timely and unique and attempt to push the boundary of digital storytelling using this kind of technology within a hip hop music video,” says Gruben. “All around the world people are on lockdown and each day we all disappear into the rabbit hole of the internet looking for stimulation, connection and entertainment whilst feeling not quite like our normal selves. So this became the central concept for the video.”
The video took a month to produce and features two forms of deepfake technology – a traditional method which places the whole face of another celebrity onto existing video footage, alongside a more groundbreaking method that creates animated video content from a single still image. Bill Posters and his team created lip sync videos that were used to create thousands of AI-generated animations from portrait photographs of celebrities. From this huge dataset the final AI animations were selected for the different parts of the lyrics with over 40 celebrities and cultural icons making the final cut.
“We had a lot of fun producing the content that sees Lil Uzi Vert reincarnated as a whole host of celebrities – both past and present, including leading figures from art history such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dalí,” says Posters. “And of course Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are in there too as we heard they are huge fans of Uzi Vert.”
The budget for the music video has been donated to Protect The Heroes Foundation, a charity supporting doctors and nurses on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic response in New York City.