When Will Movie Studios Start Using Deepfakes?
Deepfakes are a wonder of computer science that allows for the swapping of human faces -- digitally, not through some kind of John Travolta/Nicolas Cage-style surgery. We mainly experience this amazing new technology via internet headlines like "Here's What It Would Look Like If Casablanca Starred Rob Schneider and The Creepy Old Man From The Six Flag Commercials." But more and more, it seems as though Deepfakes could become a useful tool for filmmakers.
We've already seen some examples that seemingly improved on Hollywood's finished products, like how one YouTuber Deepfaked young Robert DeNiro into the de-aged version from The Irishman, ultimately making him look less like a haunted CGI sex doll.
Disney is actively pursuing this technology as we speak. The problem is, while these user-generated Deepfake videos may look impressive on a computer or phone, they wouldn't be quite up to snuff on a movie theater screen (a thing we all hope to experience again one day).
Still, it seems like only a matter of time before Deepfakes will replace Disney's go-to method of unnervingly resurrecting the dead or digitally botox-ing the elderly, which involves creating "virtual models" of existing actors using "traditional VFX." Which is both expensive and time-consuming. And we've already seen how Deepfakes can produce similar or better results than that process, such as with Grand Moff Tarkin from Rogue One.
And they've already hit up Luke on The Mandalorian.
Deepfakers have also vastly improved upon one of Disney's earliest attempts at movie de-aging -- Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.
So the question then becomes: will Disney go back and add Deepfakes to existing movies? Especially in a franchise like Star Wars, where there is a long precedent of tinkering with a film's visual effects well beyond its release. So don't be surprised if you turn on Disney Plus one day and discover that Rogue One's young Princess Leia suddenly looks more convincing or is played by, like, Danny DeVito.
Top Image: Lucasfilm