Life has felt anything but cinematic lately. But a new app from art-house movie streaming service Mubi lets cinephiles bring the movies to them.
The app, designed by Pentagram partner Yuri Suzuki and his team at Pentagram’s London office, remixes your text messages into custom movie montages set to music. Users simply type their message into the app, and out comes a custom clip remix that pulls from Mubi’s movie collections, ready to send.
Mubi, launched in 2007, is the kind of streaming service that refers to content as cinema, not movies. It’s different from Netflix, in that it focuses on critically acclaimed, contemporary, and art-house films loved by movie buffs. The Mubi remix app was designed to have wide appeal, in the hopes that existing customers can have fun with it but that it will also attract new audiences, according to Suzuki. The app is free, although it requires an email capture.
The interface itself is super simple. Type a message, select one of three music genres to set it to—hip hop, house, or dub step—and let the app go to work. It uses an algorithm to randomly select film snippets that match each of the words in your message, then it adds captions and music. Your remixed video clip is ready to send with a link or share on social media.
Though you can’t specify movies or genres, it’s a lot of fun. In testing it, I sent a remixed video message to a friend who replied, “the f***, how’d you do that?” (One small downside is that you have to click a link rather than autoplay in a text stream like a GIF, but my friend didn’t seem to mind.) The app also has a feed where you can see other user’s remixes.
Though the interface is straightforward, the process of designing it was complex. Suzuki worked with creative studio Counterpoint, which focuses on generative systems, artificial intelligence and interactivity, to make the mixing function possible. Using Mubi’s collection of films, they created a database of millions of words from famous movies to choose from. My messages included snippets from the Marx Brothers and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. True movie buffs could probably name the other clips, too.
And it’s not just Giphy for cinephiles, according to Suzuki, who considers the audio component a big differentiator. “We strongly feel that sound travels faster than just visuals alone in regards to communication,” he says. “By creating an experience that uses both sound and visuals, weighted in cultural and cinematic connotations, Mubi Remix allows the user to create a much more nuanced and postmodern message.” iMessage has been around long enough; 2021’s the era of the postmodern message.