As far as movie studios go, Disney is gaga for re-aging. From Marvel to Star Wars, the House of Mouse has relied heavily on the technology. As it continues to invest in the tech, a new Disney Re-Aging AI has been created.
Disney’s reliance on CGI and deepfake technology to make its actors younger has been widely criticised. While young Samuel Jackson in Captain Marvel was largely applauded, young Carrie Fisher in Rogue One was universally hated.
With young Luke Skywalker appearing in both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Disney is going even harder on the technology. With this in mind, its AI technology makes perfect sense.
The Disney Re-aging AI has been in development for a number of years. However, this year, the House of Mouse revealed its “production ready” age-changing tool that can make actors look any age a director wants.
Revealed on YouTube, Disney Research Hub unveiled its technology. Dubbed FRAN (Face Re-Aging Network), the Deepfake-esque technology aims to make the process of making actors appear younger or older much quicker for VFX artists.
Over the past decade or so, VFX has replaced prosthetics to make actors appear different ages. While brilliant makeup brought us believed characters like Doc Brown in Back to the Future, VFX has never really been able to replicate that experience. However, Disney’s new tool could change that.
In a recently published paper, Disney researchers revealed that FRAN is based on thousands of generated synthetic faces or differing ages. Just like deepfakes, this neural net is based on a large bank of images and trained to alter human faces.
Similar to a deepfake, the machine learning algorithm uses maths to determine what should be changed. After being fed an image, the algorithm can determine which parts of the face will be most altered by age and how they’ll be changed over time.
Most impressively, the AI can do this without destroying the original look of an actor. Furthermore, by overlaying the changes onto a shot, these re-aging effects can keep the consistency of lighting that deepfakes often destroy.
Judging from the provided footage, the Disney Re-Aging AI does wonders with aging up an actor. However, it still provides overly smooth, uncanny valley effects for de-aging actors. Check a look below.
For some projects, Disney’s FRAN AI may not be used entirely on its own. For cheaper shows, it’s a possibility. Nevertheless, it’s more likely that this tool will be combined with other VFX to make it perfect.