OpenAI’s Sora just made another brain-melting music video and we’re starting to see a theme

<div>OpenAI’s Sora just made another brain-melting music video and we’re starting to see a theme</div>
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OpenAI’s text-to-video tool has been a busy bee recently, helping to make a short film about a man with a balloon for a head and giving us a glimpse of the future of TED Talks – and now it’s rustled up its first official music video for the synth-pop artist Washed Out (below).

This isn’t the first music video we’ve seen from Sora – earlier this month we saw this one for independent musician August Kamp – but it is the first official commissioned example from an established music video director and artist.

That director is Paul Trillo, an artist who’s previously made videos for the likes of The Shins and shared this new one on X (formerly Twitter). He said the video, which flies through a tunnel-like collage of high school scenes, was “an idea I had almost 10 years ago and then abandoned”, but that he was “finally able to bring it to life” with Sora.

It isn’t clear exactly why Sora was an essential component for executing a fairly simple concept, but it helped make the process much simpler and quicker. Trillo points to one of his earlier music videos, The Great Divide for The Shins, which uses a similar effect but was “entirely 3D animated”.

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As for how this new Washed Out video was made, it required less non-Sora help than the Shy Kids’ Air Head video, which involved some lengthy post-production to create the necessary camera effects and consistency. For this one, Trillo said he used text-to-video prompts in Sora, then cut the resulting 55 clips together in Premiere Pro with only “very minor touch-ups”.

The result is a video that, like Sora’s TED Talks creation (which was also created by Trillo), hints at the tool’s strengths and weaknesses. While it does show that digital special effects are going to be democratized for visual projects with tight budgets, it also reveals Sora’s issues with coherency across frames (as characters morph and change) and its persistent sense of uncanny valley.

Like the TED Talks video, a common technique to get around these limitations is the dreamy fly-through technique, which ensures that characters are only on-screen fleetingly and that any weird morphing is a part of the look rather than a jarring mistake. While it works for this video, it could quickly become a trope if it’s over-used.

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A music video tradition

Two people sitting on the top deck of a bus

(Image credit: OpenAI / Washed Out)

Music videos have long been pioneers of new digital technology – the Dire Straits video for Money For Nothing in 1985, for example, gave us an early taste of 3D animation, while Michael Jackson’s Black Or White showed off the digital morphing trick that quickly became ubiquitous in the early 90s (see Terminator 2: Judgement Day). 

While music videos lack the cultural influence they once did, it looks like they’ll again be a playground for AI-powered effects like the ones in this Washed Out creation. That makes sense because Sora, which OpenAI expects to release to the public “later this year”, is still well short of being good enough to be used in full-blown movies.

We can expect to see these kinds of effects everywhere by the end of the year, from adverts to TikTok promos. But like those landmark effects in earlier music videos, they will also likely date pretty quickly and become visual cliches that go out of fashion.

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If Sora can develop at the same rate as OpenAI’s flagship tool, ChatGPT, it could evolve into something more reliable, flexible, and mainstream – with Adobe recently hinting that the tool could soon be a plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro. Until then, expect to see a lot more psychedelic Sora videos that look like a mashup of your dreams (or nightmares) from last night.

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