AI Meets Artistry: Riding Shotgun with Van Gogh

Valkyrie's AI-Powered Photo Booth at SOHO House [SXSW 2024]

AI Meets Artistry: Riding Shotgun with Van Gogh

Building a brand activation photo booth with Soho House, Porsche, and Valkyrie AI

For SXSW 2024, Porsche epitomized its commitment to pushing the boundaries of creativity and redefining the relationship between art and automotive design by teaming up with Soho House Austin and Valkyrie AI to use innovative deep learning techniques for an AI photo booth experience. We, at Valkyrie AI, want to give you a behind-the-scenes look of how we brought this unique concept to life.

AI-Generated Images

Style: Andy Warhol

Style: Vincent Van Gogh

Style: Edvard Munch

How We Built It

Our years of expertise in the deep learning space has allowed us to shorten what is usually a nine week process into two weeks. When building this activation, we approached it in three steps. First, in respect of the artists who inspire our work, we sourced background images that avoided copyright infringement. Second, we created a process to ingest the photographed images. Third, and finally, we created the style transfer model. 

When processing the photographed images, our workflow involves ingesting images of our subjects, followed by background removal and cropping. Subsequently, we merge the subject and background layers using compositing techniques, leveraging automation so that the joint image can be reproduced quickly. While these photo editing techniques are simple enough to execute manually, the experience demanded automation for swift and repetitive production. 

Now, for the style transfer model, which lies at the core of the AI photobooth. But what exactly is style transfer? Imagine it as taking the essence of an artwork—its colors, textures, and mood—and applying it to a different piece, effectively transforming it into a similar work of art while preserving the subject so people can still recognize themselves. For our model, we used VGG19, a convolutional neural network renowned for its effectiveness in image recognition tasks due to its deep architecture and pre-training. Letting the image process too long risks turning it into a brown, muddy mess that nobody would frame. Too long led to images that weren’t recognizably art. Our team solved this by curating the right match between style and subject. While some artworks, like Van Gogh’s, lend themselves beautifully to style transfer due to their bold brushstrokes and distinctive textures, others may not mesh as seamlessly. 

One of the most remarkable aspects of our journey was the speed of development. What might have taken months was possible in a few weeks of development thanks to our partners,Daito for Design and WANDR for front-end development.

What Else Is This Technology Used For?

You may come across style transfer in your daily life without recognizing it. For example, Google’s gaming service Stadia recently used style transfer to mix and match video game environments. This facilitated developers in swiftly analyzing and comparing different styles and patterns, observing their impact on the game’s overall feel. Real-world artists and designers are already using style transfer to craft logos, graphics, and social media content, spanning both images and video. 

Interested in a similar activation?

The debut night saw hundreds of innovators, creators, entrepreneurs & artists interact with the photo booth, with everyone enjoying a memorable experience. The installation serves as a launching point for future AI installations that display the intersection of art and technology. The photobooth can accommodate group photos and offer a wider selection of styles and backgrounds for users to select from. If you’re curious about diving into similar ventures or just want to chat about what’s possible, Valkyrie is here to explore new creative horizons with you.

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