Informatics Spin-Out Company Speech Graphics Behind Kanye West’s Controversial New Video
The innovative new video by rap superstar Kanye West was made using technology created by Informatics spin-out company computer animation company Speech Graphics, it has emerged.
Directed by photographer Nick Knight as the lead-off single from new album Yeezus, the promo for the Daft Punk co-produced Black Skinhead features a brooding, computer-generated West performing against a starkly monochromatic backdrop of barking dogs and hooded figures.
The video uses a method of lip-synching speech to facial animation pioneered by Speed Graphics, who formed in 2010 as a spinoff from the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics and Centre for Speech Technology Research.
Speech Graphics co-founder Michael Berger explained:
When we took the call from Hollywood they set us exceptionally tight deadlines. But we just could not say no to this amazing job. When we animate speech we actually animate most of the face, because the skin moves, right up to the eyes. We even had his ears moving with the jaw motion. But our biggest challenge was to make Kanye's face move naturally over the famous gold and diamond grill on his teeth.
This has been an extraordinary project to work on. To make the most famous face in Hip Hop rap has been a surreal experience and the media furore has added to the intensity of working on the project. It just doesn't get any bigger. This project has given us the chance to really show what our technology can do.
Speech Graphics has won several industry awards, including the 2012 John Logie Baird Award for innovation. As well as a main base in Edinburgh's Crichton Street, the company has recently opened an office in San Jose, California. Earlier this year, Channel 4 commissioning editor for games Colin MacDonald was appointed chairman.