Disney has revealed its biggest secret, at least the one that makes its actors forever young in the movies. And, of course, his recipe for success goes through a sophisticated Artificial Intelligence program that is now coming to light, and that helps the house’s productions to reduce post-production processes. Are we facing the future, or present, of cinema?
Disney, with its different franchises, has tried everything in technology. The best known is related to CGI technology. Mainly in Marvel –which we could already see with a precarious result in She Hulk– and also in Star Wars, this novelty has even managed to revive characters who had died before being able to finish some of the house’s titles. However, it is a long and expensive process; so much so that in an attempt to save on productions, these teams have been the main victims of rushing and checks. That’s why, Disney needs more effective techniques to ensure the survival of all its sagas. Artificial Intelligence could be the definitive solution. Especially when these extend over the years. And, although the years do not pass for the characters in fiction, they do for the actors who play them. And this, with sagas so long in time, is a problem.
We were able to verify Ant-Man and the Wasp from Marvel: you could see a very young version of Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas. Now, with the new movie on the way Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania we will probably have another death of rejuvenated characters. Behind this, many designers erasing, one by one, wrinkles on the faces of the characters.
To avoid all this, Disney Reasearch Studios is working on a tool that can help all these creators and that we can very possibly see in a short space of time in one of the house titles. At least to save the design and post-production teams a lot of work that can become monotonous. Of course, This is articulated through Artificial Intelligence that has been put to the test for two years. And while it can be used to make actors younger, it can also be used to make them older if needed for different takes.
The key to this AI system tested by Disney is that it can adapt to moving images. And be, in fact, fully convincing and photorealistic. Eliminating the feeling of quality loss between transition phases of frames. To train the neural networks of the technology, something essential for the cinema was also taken into account. The actors do not usually look directly at the camera, which makes the position of the face less than perfect in terms of proportions. For this, they explain, a database was created with millions of faces created with Artificial Intelligence systems and random creation. All, too, with alternate positions.
Later, and with the tools of this program known as Fran, they aged and rejuvenated. It was a trial and error phase with non-human elements to make Artificial Intelligence could learn as much as possible. To then take it to the actors or real people.
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Why do they look more realistic than other attempts at Artificial Intelligence? The model does not age the entire face of the character, but studies which elements can be affected by age based on the structure of the face. When it detects the image, the AI creates an additional layer that is superimposed on top of the original. When moved, the layer moves with the actor; if this changes the rictus, there will also be a modification of the wrinkles. It also means that the real identity of the actor is not lost without feeling too artificial on the big screen.