Are Deep Fakes the Future of Filmmaking?

Our mission at SAW is to foster conversations about this thing we all love (or love to hate): film/TV. Many of our features are designed with you in mind. Your opinions, to be more to the point. You have ’em. We want to hear ’em.

Question of the Day (QOTD) is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a film/TV-related question that we put to you, the reader. The comments section below is like the feedback box at work; except, in this example, we actually read what you write and care about what you have to say.

Spoilers ahead for if you’re not caught up with the latest Star Wars live-action television series on Disney+.

Okay, so by now we should all know that a young Luke Skywalker has appeared in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. While Mark Hamill has been involved in some capacity, it isn’t exactly his performance we are seeing on screen. Instead, a mixture of stand-ins, deep fake technology, and a highly advanced voice synthesizer has been used to recreate a 1980s version of Hamill’s Luke Skywalker that looks like he has just walked off the set of Return of the Jedi.

The use of de-aging CGI and/or deep fake technology in Hollywood properties like Star Wars and Marvel has become a hot button issue. Some don’t mind it while others find it distracting and that it takes away from the performance or series. I want to know what you think. So, the question I ask today is: do you think deep fake technology is the future of filmmaking? What are your thoughts on its use in big budget movies and series?

To answer my first question, yes, I think deep fake is here to stay. It’s only getting better, and if you’re a studio that can put some serious time and money into it then the results should be amazing.

Now that’s not to mean I want to see this shit all the time. I’ll use Star Wars as an example. The brief scene at the end of The Mandalorian season 2 of Luke Skywalker is a perfect example of how deep fake should be used. If you have the actor or the actor’s family’s blessing to use their likeness to recreate a character in a cameo appearance (like bringing Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner back for a silent cameo when they conclude The Fast Saga) I’m all for that. It’s when they want to use all this work and the character is a large part of the story. If Lucasfilm wants to continue using the Original Trilogy era Luke then they need to thank Hamill for his work and recast Luke.

So, I guess I’m okay with deep fake technology if it’s used sparingly. There is something strange about seeing actors turned into younger versions of themselves. I’m sure future generations might not realize The Mandalorian and Return of the Jedi were shot decades apart. Maybe they’ll think Mark Hamill finished one project and worked on the other the following week. Who knows! All I’m saying is that if Hollywood wants to continue using motion capture or deep fake technology to de-age or alter a performance, they need to pick and choose when they use it. A small one-off cameo or reappearance every now and then? Sure, go ahead. But multiple appearances a year? Just cast an actor.

So what about you, screenagers? Do you believe that deep fakes will only become more commonplace in filmmaking in the years to come? Do you think Hollywood is becoming too reliant on motion capture de-aging?

I’ll see you in the trenches.

Author: Marmaduke Karlston

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute Doc, uh, are you telling me you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?"