We recently started a project that required some next-level 3D modelling. We received some still photos of a few UFC fighters, but the problem was that we wanted them to move and show a range of emotions. As a result, we took our first step into the world of deepfakes.
For the uninitiated, the term deepfake comes from a combination of 'deep learning' and 'fake'. The most common form of deepfake is a video created using open-source machine learning tools such as TensorFlow. The goal is to manipulate a person's face to say or do something that they didn't say or do, with incredibly realistic results.
Put simply, the technology collects pictures of a person's face from as many angles as possible and maps them onto a face in a video to create a sort of mask effect.
There's an abundance of negative press when it comes to the use of deepfaking for all kinds of reasons. However, we're in an industry that lives and breathes for this kind of technology.
With a few Google searches and a computer it’s possible to produce a convincing deepfake from the comfort of your own home. This opens up a world of opportunity in digital, and we can't help but get excited about its potential.
One agency in London has already used the technology to create an anti-Malaria campaign with David Beckham. In it, they've manipulated his mouth to make it look like he's speaking nine different languages, allowing him to become a voice for people all over the world. It's a great idea that shows the beginnings of how this technology can give creative agencies and businesses a new channel for reaching people.
One trend in deepfaking that's gaining increasing popularity is resurrection. Most past film stars, musicians and historical figures with a reasonable amount of information on them can be brought back into the digital world. Using old videos and machine learning, The Dali Museum in Florida leveraged deepfakes to bring back the prolific artist. They created a life-size, walking, talking Dali on a screen so patrons could hear him speak about his art in a way that he honestly would have spoken.
Whether the world likes it or not, deepfakes will hit the mainstream in a big way. Although the technology will likely be abused as much as any other tool, there's a lot to look forward to that's worth getting excited for.