Framestore use deep fake technology in campaign for Kiyan Prince Foundation

Member News  |  18 May 2021

Visual effects powerhouse Framestore has collaborated with marketing agency ENGINE Creative to help raise awareness of knife crime in a campaign using VR.

Fifteen years on from the tragic death of football prodigy Kiyan Prince, who was stabbed at the age of 15 in May 2006 whilst trying to prevent another child from being bullied, Framestore has collaborated with marketing agency ENGINE Creative to support a ground-breaking campaign to honour his memory. With their expertise in cutting-edge art and AI, Framestore has used ground-breaking visual effects to virtually bring Kiyan Prince back to screens, and ultimately help raise awareness of knife crime.

The campaign called ‘Long Live the Prince’ will see Kiyan Prince sign for his former football club, Queens Park Rangers where he will wear the squad number ‘30’ to reflect the age he would have been today. In a world-first, Kiyan will also be introduced as a non-playable character in EA Sports FIFA21 – one of the world’s biggest video game franchises. Together with this, Kiyan will be a collectable footballer within the Match Attax card trading game which is being released by Topps on May 18th. Brands such as Adidas and JD Sports will be sponsoring Kiyan as a pro-footballer and proceeds will raise money for the Kiyan Prince Foundation.

Working pro bono Framestore’s Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Mike McGee; Project Lead, Karl Woolley; Creative Technologist, Johannes Saam; Global Head of Creatures, Markus Schmidt and Senior Designer, David Lochhead collaborated with ENGINE Creative and expert likeness artist Chris Scalf to lead the development of the assets needed for the campaign. To show the 30-year-old likeness of Kiyan, the creative team had access to a leading expert on human ageing; Professor Hassan Ugail of the University of Bradford who used state-of-the-art ageing-projection software to create a scientifically accurate image of how Kiyan would look today. Once completed Framestore set about creating the suite of images to accompany the campaign.

“We’ve created many humans, digi doubles and superheroes in the past, but Kiyan was on a different level. Creating Kiyan as the 30-year-old man he would have been today, was a sensitive and delicate process and we took our responsibility seriously. Making sure we did Kiyan and his family justice by realising him as he would have been today, was the biggest challenge of this project and quite possibly, of all my projects to date.”

Karl Woolley. Project Lead, Framestore

As the end sequence for the promo film wasn’t conceived until after the planning for Kiyan’s likeness had been completed, the creative team were left with no time to go down the traditional and more laborious digi double route. Alongside this, there were no source images of Kiyan at 30 to train the Deep Fake on either.

To pull off the promo’s end sequence Framestore’s Creative Technologist, Johannes Saam partnered with Sydney based Matt Hermans, Founder of the creative company Electric Lens Co. to work on the promo video assets and began the challenging task of bringing life and movement to 30-year-old Kiyan. Using a mixture of cutting-edge development and some secret sauce, the team were able to incorporate Scalf’s stills into the process to create synthetic data which they were able to train the Deep Fake on.

“Deep Fakes are often seen as gimmicks, to service a trend, but when we heard about the project and the potential to use Deep Fake for good, we knew we had to find a solution, employing new neural rendering based techniques.”

Johannes Saam, Creative Technologist, Framestore

Based on a first pass of the geometry and painted reference frames, a virtual dataset was assembled with an automated pipeline rendering 6000 pictures as a base layer, which was then iteratively refined. 

“The first pass added facial animations to the training material. After that, the pipeline was fed a detailed lookdev pass with facial hair and additional texture detail to keep the machine in line with our 2D likeness. Based on this dataset, we used a pre-trained neural network and the Kiyan specific images to focus the deep fake network on translating the human facial performance into a digital representation of Kiyan.” 

Johannes Saam, Creative Technologist, Framestore

This network replaced the entire head frame by frame and was then composited over the photography, as well as the removal of sponsor logos from the shirt using Nuke’s brand new CopyCat node. All proceeds raised will go directly to Kiyan Prince Foundation, a charity run by Kiyan’s father, Dr Mark Prince OBE who’s been tirelessly campaigning to prevent knife crime since his son’s tragic death.

To find out more. visit The Kiyan Prince Foundation.

To find out more about their projects, visit Framestore’s website at:


Client: Kiyan Prince Foundation
Creative Agency: ENGINE Creative 
Creative Director: Richard Nott & David Dearlove
Head of Project Management: Katie Farmer
Project Director: Seb Roskell
Producer: Debbie Impett
Editor: Sam Hopkins
Motion Graphics Designer: Jamie Thodesen

Chief Creative Officer: Mike McGee
Global Real-Time Director: Karl Woolley
Creative Technologist: Johannes Saam
Global Head of Creatures: Markus Schmidt 
Senior Designer: David Lochhead

Artist: Chris Scalf
Matt Hermans:Electric Lens Co

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