With examples like James Earl Jones “signing over rights to” his Darth Vader voice to an artificial intelligence startup, and Bruce Willis selling rights to his “image/personea” to a Deepfake company so his digital twin can continue to perform (and earn income for his family), it seems there is a career for your digital likeness long after a normal acting career would be over.
Last year in Amplifying Actors one of the expectations I had an expectation:
This, like animation acting, should bring a lot more freedom to actors. 2021 Michael Horton, for example, could still star in the remake of Murder She Wrote as his younger self! The way Hollywood is, though, it will probably be used to impose new performers on the identity and image of long dead stars.
A year later we have an official deepfake Bruce Willis, and a digital Darth Vader. It’s worth noting, in the context of my prediction, that the digital Darth Vader will be James Earl Jones at his peak. His justification for licensing the voice was that he was no longer at his peak.
With the recent fully digital Val Kilmer voice for Top Gun: Mavericks it’s obvious synthetic voices and actors are with us. Val Kilmer would not have been able to star in Mavericks without his digital voice as his own was lost to cancer some years ago. Synthetic voices are not just good enough, they are good enough for Hollywood.
You can hear an official example at:
Digital Avatars like Synthesis.io are improving all the time, and slowly losing the uncanny valley effect. Synthesis’s avatars are used extensively in corporate communication and education.
There are already many examples of Hollywood resurrecting actors as their digital doubles, so much so that it’s become a real concern for The Beat and their article: Are Deep Fakes the Future of A-List Casting.
Naturally, NVIDIA are have advanced deepfake and Avatar research
At Samsung research they’re focused more on increasing the resolution of their deepfake avatars.
Now that deepfakes are available to everyone – almost – it will soon be impossible to trust anything we see.
All I can hope is that we get better tools for detecting synthetic voices and avatars.