26 Jun 2019

How to make an impressively deepfake Tom Cruise

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Is it or isn't it? It's not, but the headline rather gave that away Is it or isn't it? It's not, but the headline rather gave that away Corridor Digital

Okay, first you need to be impressive viral engineers Corridor Digital, the same team behind the beaten up robot from last week. But even if you’re not they’re going to show you how to do it.

Corridor Digital, a small production studio based in LA, is very good at two things. One is making clever videos that have a tendency to break through and go properly viral; and two is telling everybody how clever it is at doing so. I mean, these guys have got their own range of apparel.

They are rather pleased with themselves but then they have reason to be. Their Boston Dynamics parody video below was shared in an improbably large number of places, has close to 7.5 million views on YouTube, and ignited a whole debate about the ethics of how we deal with our future automated servants (we’ve seen Westworld; it doesn’t end well).

The Tom Cruise deepfake is a slightly different kettle of fish. Whereas ‘New Robots Now Fight Back’ went viral partly because it was edited down into snippets and made into multiple GIFs, the modestly titled ‘We Made The Best Deepfake on The Internet’ is more of an extended BTS with a couple of minutes of the deepfake footage at the front.

It’s interesting stuff, especially seeing as how a lot of Corridor’s work was done using the free DeepFaceLab software, which you can get on GitHub. They go through the whole process of creating multiple expressions and training the software to be able to map the target face onto the source expressions. 250,000 iterations later and they’re almost there.

That they then hire a noted Tom Cruise impersonator and use him for the main performance, laying the deepfake on top of it, could perhaps be classed as cheating. But then the whole deepfake thing is cheating to an extent and, if nothing else, this video proves that it’s still a task that you have to throw a fair amount of technology and expertise at to get it even halfway right.

Andy Stout

Andy has spent over two decades writing about all aspects of the broadcast and film industries for a variety of high-profile industry publications on both sides of the Atlantic. During that time the industry has moved from 4:3 SD to 16:9 SD to HD and now on to 4K HDR. He's getting kind of curious to see where it goes next.

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