This is MAVE: a “k-pop” group of avatars that collect millions of views thanks to artificial intelligence | technology

SIU: and ZENA: and TYRA: and MARTY:. That’s the name of the four members of South Korean pop group MAVE: who debuted this past January with the song “PANDORA.” They are between the ages of 19 and 20 and each hail from a different country, from the US to Indonesia, although they all have Asian features, as is typical in the South Korean entertainment industry. His first video has surpassed 20 million views, while his Spotify account has more than 1.5 million monthly listeners. In March, they appeared on the music show! Music Core, broadcast on MBC TV channel, like any group k pop With some repercussions that come to promote his new bachelor. The members took part in TikTok challenges and even celebrated 100 days since their debut. However, despite the numbers and achievements that go with them, what might surprise those who don’t know them yet is that they are symbolic figures. Thanks to artificial intelligence, 3D technology, augmented reality, and vocal synthesis, these virtual singers can transition into a traditional pop group, which is sometimes difficult to distinguish from a group made up of humans, especially in what refers to the song.

MAVE name: comes from Make a new wave (creates a new wave) or overhead waveas the group has “an ambition to create a new wave in the scene k pop During the Age of Metaverse. It is common for the names of K-pop groups to hide a meaning attached to the members, what they intend to achieve with their music, or what they want to convey. In the same way, the names of their fans, also created by entertainment companies, have meaning and a relationship with the respective group. In this case, the fans of MAVE are called MAZE: (The Labyrinth), because, together with the group, they will “create a new path, a maze, in which no one has yet dared, with the firm belief that they will find a way out while remaining coherent.”

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Sung-Ku Kang, CTO of Metaverse Entertainment, the company in charge of the set, explains to this newspaper via email that the project consists of the same planning and production that was carried out with sets. idols TRUE. “The company’s members are experts in various fields, such as video games, entertainment, and music… and have a deep understanding of how to produce good results and create likable characters,” he says.

But what is beyond the reach of human idols that can be made by a host of gods? As Kang explains, “As a virtual group, you can choreograph at a speed and level of difficulty that would be difficult for a real singer to achieve, and all kinds of imagination can be called upon when making music videos.” He also points out that members of mainstream groups often have different talents and there is a disparity between them, but virtual idols don’t have to manage that. Of course, they also have an obvious advantage: being in several places at the same time. “They can perform in Korea and an hour later in the United States, or live in front of audiences all over the world at the same time,” says the manager.

However, when watching them perform, the first question a viewer might ask is whether there are real young singers behind so much technology. When it comes to looks, their faces are not based on any specific real person. They created ‘appearances’ of sorts idolsthe results were mixed and manually adjusted.” The origin of their singing abilities lies in the combination of the voices of real actors and what the AI ​​generates, so that they are “trained” to speak like those actors. Sung-Ku Kang explains that they will continue to use this mix, and also make the decision based on on the situation, but with the goal of maximizing the use of AI-generated sounds.

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MAVE members: In addition to recording content, they can interact in real time.
MAVE members: In addition to recording content, they can interact in real time. Mafi:

Perhaps what takes a little more work is getting the choreography to look like a choreographer idols Humans. “It takes a lot of effort to make the virtual artist move as naturally as a human. To make the movements look natural, we use motion capture technology to accurately record the movements of real people, and simulation technology to make clothes and hair move naturally with the activity as well,” says Kang. But all this would not have been achieved without good work on the recording: for the shooting of the PANDORA video clip, a studio eight meters high, 20 by 20 wide and long with motion capture equipment and cameras of all kinds was used. , in order to record the movements in the same manner as in the real music video. “This allowed us to see how the actors would naturally interact with the cameras and do post-production and editing with what we recorded,” adds the Metaverse director.

MAVE members: In addition to recording content, they can interact in real time. It’s not something very different from what default YouTubers do, Kang explains. “Our goal is to create a long-term and memorable emotional connection with every fan, rather than just having a chatbot service,” he adds, “like the one currently available.” The technologies needed to create this group, in addition to virtual intelligence and the other technologies mentioned, include: machine learning3D modeling, various simulation techniques for controlling facial and body movements, augmented and virtual reality, especially for virtual concerts and for interactions with fans, data analysis and cloud technologies.

Metaverse Entertainment, a subsidiary of video game developer Netmarble, is the company responsible for the project, which also includes Kakao Entertainment, the entertainment company that owns ‘Korean WhatsApp’, Kakao Talk, and various k-pop group agencies. And the actors, on the Melon music streaming service and massive Webtoons platform, comics in vertical format are very popular all over the world, but especially in Asia. Over a hundred professionals are involved in the creation and activities of MAVE, many of whom have worked or are currently working with real artists. PANDORA was composed by Max Song and Killer Nico, who have produced songs for some of the most popular bands in the industry, like Seventeen, Red Velvet, and Monsta X. The director of the video, Flipevil, has been responsible for some of IU, the country’s most successful soloist; The choreography was done by Freemind, the choreographer for two of IVE’s biggest hits.

Mavi: It’s not the first South Korean music group made up of idols, but it’s the group that’s had the most influence so far. In 2021, also in Korea, Superkind debuts, in which only one member is the avatar, and in the case of the members of Eternity, who debuted in the same year, Pulse9 uses technology it calls True Deep, through which it claims to create Realistic faces regardless of race, age or gender. However, virtual singers originated in Japan, in 2007, with the creation of Hatsune Miku, a hologram that even performed live concerts.

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