Remember when making actors look older or younger in movies was a huge deal? The amount of post-production work to achieve realistic results was immense at the time, but now researchers at Disney have revealed FRAN, a new artificial intelligence tool that can age or convincingly age an actor in a fraction of the time. time.
In an academic paper, Disney Research Studios explains that FRAN (which stands for face re-aging network) is a neural network that was trained using a large database containing pairs of randomly generated synthetic faces at different ages. , which circumvents the need to otherwise find thousands of images of real people at different (documented) ages that depict the same facial expression, pose, lighting, and background.
FRAN uses this information to predict which areas of a real person’s face would age and how, then overlays the new details – such as the addition or erasure of wrinkles and jowls – onto video footage. The result is what Disney Research Studios claims is “the first practical, fully automatic, production-ready method for aging faces in video footage.” Watching video examples provided by Disney, the technology definitely blows Snapchat’s aging filter out of the water.
There are some limitations, however, and this type of research is not unique. Disney noted in their research that FRAN may not be suitable for significant changes such as aging towards and from very young ages and graying of scalp hair is not reflected as an actor ages, as this was not present in the dataset. used to form the tool. Since the manual work of visual effects and even the practical application of prosthetic makeup do not have these restrictions, FRAN is unlikely to replace many jobs in the industry for quite a while.
It’s no wonder Disney worked on automating the visual effects considering it’s one of the biggest names recreating or aging actors on the big screen. Marvel Cinematic Universe characters such as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell) have all had visual adjustments in recent years, in addition to star wars characters like Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Wilhuff Tarkin (Peter Cushing).
Despite its potential benefits in moviemaking, it’s unclear if Disney intends to make this technology available to the public, and there’s certainly still room for improvement, so it could take some time. time before we saw this level of complex visual effects working virtually automated within the industry.