Peter Dixon, a first-time candidate in California’s 16th district, faced the challenge of introducing himself to the Democratic donor base and district, which already featured several well-known local elected officials. Dixon had a unique personal story as a Marine Corps veteran and Silicon Valley entrepreneur that we hoped to both introduce to Democratic voters and leverage to gain attention for his campaign. To stand out in telling his story, especially in the Silicon Valley region, we embarked on a technologically groundbreaking approach, utilizing generative AI to take viewers on a virtual adventure across the globe while Peter strolled through his street.
The innovative ad employed a sophisticated combination of Adobe After Effects, Cinema4D, Adobe Premiere, Stable Diffusion, Kaiber.ai, and Ebsynth. These tools were instrumental in executing style transfers, seamlessly transitioning between the real world and virtual landscapes. To achieve this, the footage was separated into foreground and background, with each treated independently to guide the AI in generating closely referenced imagery. The AI-generated stylized look was incorporated into a standard visual effects workflow involving 3D, camera tracking, rotoscoping, and compositing.
Various methods were employed for creating the stylized backgrounds. Keyframes from the original footage were stylized in Stable Diffusion and fed into Ebsynth to extrapolate in-between frames, ensuring a moving AI world consistent with its real-world counterpart. Additionally, camera tracking was used to recreate movement in Cinema 4D, where virtual set pieces of geometry stood in for details not captured on set. AI-generated images were also camera-projected onto geometry for depth and parallax, creating a dynamic background in Cinema 4D.
To enhance Dixon's presence, he was roto-scoped in After Effects, separating him from the footage. The result was fed into Kaiber to generate his stylized passes, retaining some likeness by blending a portion of his face. Both the stylized foreground and background were composited back in After Effects for each shot and edited in Premiere, creating a final product that was the first political ad to use AI for video, not just stills.
We were successful in our two main goals of raising Dixon’s public profile and boosting his fundraising, raising nearly $700,000 in just 10 days for the Dixon campaign. The video also garnered wide-reaching attention for the campaign, with Campaigns and Elections Magazine calling it "a unique experience for the viewer and a sign of things to come for media consultants." The video not only met our objectives but redefined the possibilities for political ad campaigns.