The Impact of Deepfakes on the Filmmaking Industry

The technological landscape is constantly changing, especially in the film industry. What’s possible today would’ve been alien-like technology even thirty years ago. With the pace film special effects and CGI are going, who knows what the future can hold for cinema and what’s possible.

Nowadays, Deepfake technology is heavily discussed as an innovative piece of tech that is only in the early stages of what’s possible. With this in mind, let’s discuss the impact of deepfakes on the filmmaking industry, highlighting what it is, de-aging and CGI, bringing back actors, and much more.

What is a Deepfake?

A Deepfake is a piece of synthetic media that changes the audience’s image to a certain degree. With this definition, one can argue that photoshop is a typical deepfake example that photographers use. Nowadays, a more common use of a Deepfake are meme videos where people insert a celebrity’s face in a video, usually for comedic effect.

An example could be the President giving a speech to someone, but it’s Nic Cage from the Wicker Man instead of the President’s face. However, deepfakes aren’t only used in a meme sense. There are plenty of instances where it can benefit a film, especially with De-Aging.

De-Aging and CGI

The Irishman wasn’t just groundbreaking for being a Martin Scorsese film with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, but also for its use of De-Aging. The film took place over fifty years, and rather than have a slew of actors portray the main characters throughout it, Scorsese chose to De-Age his elderly actors.

Why wouldn’t you choose to go that route when you have Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci? With three of the greatest actors in existence, it’s a no-brainer. The film demonstrated that De-Aging could be done well. Ten years ago, De-Aging wouldn’t have been possible, but now it can be done, and I’m sure we’ll see more films in a similar capacity to the Irishman.

Bringing Back a Deceased Actor

A more prevalent use of deepfakes in cinema brings back actors who are no longer with us. This method is most commonly done when a franchise loses a main character in the middle of production. We see this example in Star Wars with the tragic death of Carrie Fisher, and the need for the franchise to have her in the final installment of the new trilogy.

Fisher’s CGI is a small but integral part of The Rise of Skywalker and was a splendid example of how films can bring back characters after a tragedy. It’s a grand farewell in a sense. Star Wars also brought back Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin with his Rogue One CGI counterpart.

Cushing died in the 1990s, but his character lived on nearly thirty years later since he was an integral part of the story. It’s a highlight of what’s possible with CGI in the future.

Changing the Star of a Movie

Although it hasn’t been done in a mainstream film yet, many YouTube creators change the movie’s star through deepfaking. A popular example is the Terminator 2 starring Sylvester Stallone [DeepFake] video. It gives a visual of what could’ve happened if Stallone was casted as the Terminator instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Final Thoughts

CGI, deepfakes, and De-Aging will be utilized as tools for filmmaking for years to come. It’s a positive impact that can lead to some compelling storylines and memorable moments. I hope it doesn’t turn into a cheap method only to bring back actors we appreciate, but it doesn’t seem to be going that route right now. The better technology artists have, the better.



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