For this year's Pentagram Christmas card, partner Yuri Suzuki has taken the lead, giving us something quite extraordinary: the chance to turn your face into a musical instrument and record your little festive film.
"We wanted to create some musical fun as an antidote to the gravity of our times," says the London agency of its Face the Music interactive platform. Using facial recognition, you can play along to your favourite musical style, including dubstep, opera, blues or sci-fi. All you have to do is open and close your mouth to adjust the sound, or move your head from side to side and raise your eyebrows. Pretty cool, huh?
To show you how it all works, Yuri and some of his colleagues have created their own little movies, demonstrating some of their favourite genres (scroll down). We especially love the sci-fi version – with makeshift space suits and fake plastic eggs for eyes. Wonderfully weird.
Where did the idea come from? "After spending some time with a good friend recently, I noticed that my face really ached from laughing so much," Yuki told Creative Boom. "I realised that I hadn’t been laughing (or even smiling) very much lately, which I guess was probably because of all the depressing stories that seem to be dominating the news this year. I thought it would be great to make a holiday activity which would get people smiling again."
Counterpoint was behind the website's development. Its co-founder Tero Parviainen said: "We are running a little AI model for face recognition in the user's web browser. When they open their webcam, the model can track different points on their face, which we then turn into musical parameters. Machine learning technology is abundant for face recognition now, and it's cool to be able to use it for a fun project like this. I especially like the immediacy of the interaction this affords. No knobs, sliders, or buttons needed!"
Is Yuri happy with the outcome? "Yes, I think with Face the Music we've managed to create a sophisticated facial expression music application, and it definitely seems to be making people smile."