Deepfaking in Movies

Deep Faking in Movies

By: Asa Montreaux

Although you may think it is just something of the future, that you may see celebrity deep fakes, in an interview, or in a bad film, it is already a part of our modern film world.

Getting human faces to look exactly like is needed for a particular film, or getting them to look as attractive as possible, has led filmmakers, music labels, and media companies, to use deep faking to improve the quality of their content without mentioning it at all.

There would be no other way to change the appearance of the actors and actresses in the films. Only the most low level edits would be possible. In fact, the edits you are familiar with, including changing someones appearance so they appear older, or younger, are actually deep fakes. They described combining a live feed of an actor with that of a younger actor. This was exactly the technique to make Johnny Depp younger looking in Pirates of The Caribbean, and Jeff Bridges in Tron. 

Some of the most popular deep faking apps make people older with the click of the bottom, by mapping on older traits to the users face. This is exactly what’s done in movies, and has been done for decades. They will map on parts of an older face to a younger face, for a flash forward scene.

What deep faking is described as is the combing of two faces to create the appearance of a different person. Generally the person who’s face is overlayed determines the look of the deepfake, with their face being used for the majority of the photo. However the image is pasted somewhat opaquely, so that the two will meld together, and you will notice the differences slightly less. 

This is the same technique that has been used in movies for decades. However, they may have not thought of it as deep faking. They may have thought of it just a CGI Graphics technique.

But the reality is with the existence of full face replacements in film, real deep faking already exists in film. The question arises whether there is an unfair stigma to deep faking? Or whether it is ethical.

The obvious problem of deepfaking being used to steal the identity of politicians makes it a topic generally deemed contentious. However, to help tell the story of a film, or to create the best possible product, by allowing professionals to do thing they had otherwise not done, it seems a highly ethical practice.

But could deep faking be being used already, to steal the identity of artists in cinema, and in music and media as well? In my opinion this is actually happening already. 

Take for instance the videos going viral of Tom Cruise etc. It is possible to create fake news around celebrities, endanger their careers, and possibly demand money from them because of the threat to release content, or release more content. 

Another instance was deep faked images of Justin Bieber eating a burrito from the middle. This started the controversy of whether he had strange habits? He obviously had not, but the deep fake was very hard to catch. This was an example where the deep fake had actually in fact gone viral.

It is possible that fans, or just a more nefarious person trying to gain something, could send in footage of a completely different person, to tabloids and newspapers, claiming to have seen the person, when they weren’t anywhere around. It is possible, when they have their phone cameras out, they can claim Chris Hemsworth is in a movie, when it was really Mark Walhberg. It is possible they could steal the footage and try to make the film, or send it another filmmaker, on their own. There have been reports of people changing the appearances of other actors in the films, or slightly changing the appearance of lead actors in the films.

Deepfaking, as it is usually done, involves taking an oval shape of a face from a photo, and applying it with a slightly higher opacity(slightly transparent) over a still from a movie. Photos are needed from several angles. From the front, from both sides at 45 and 90 degree angles. Generally the more photos used the better the results. 

Video Version:

Often the deepfake sits right above the eyebrows, the overlayed faced mapped inside the head of the actor. You will see the outline of the chin and jaw of the actor, as well as some of the forehead. If the forehead is very revealed on both faces, sometimes the deepfake will include some of the forehead, and you will see the outline appear high on the forehead of the actor. 

One of the most apparent problems is matching film lighting to photo lighting. Often the photo was taken with a flash, and appears significantly lighter than the video. You may also notice flashes when the actor turns or moves his head significantly, as some photos may be brighter than others. And you may notice slippage as well. Sometimes the overlayed image will not map properly, and the face underneath will become more apparent, or the deepfake will become pixelated or grainy.

Here are some examples in films and tv shows you have heard of. Be prepared for your eyes to be more open after having seen this:

                                              Oval shape visible on forehead. Overlay is lighter coloured.

                                             Edges of actor face visible, jutting overlay face with small features.

                                             In Background left forehead is different colour

                                             Light overlay visible above forehead and inside jaw.

                                             Light overlay makes it appear like there is a thick shadow at Jawline.
                                             Very light overlay above eyebrows.
                                             Overlay visible below hairline.
                                             Overlay is not wide. Much lighter actor face.
                                             Extremely visible overlay line on forehead.

                                             Overlay line visible on forehead and jawline.
                                             Light coloured overlay face apparent on actor.

                                             Overlay face visible around eyeline.

                                             Oval shape overlay around face, actor forehead visible.
Light actors face overlay line visible on forehead.
             Overlay visible on forehead. Face and features jutting out.


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