In the realm of Hollywood, where technology continues to push boundaries, renowned actor Tom Hanks has offered his insights into the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in films. As Hanks himself ages and his name and likeness remain highly sought after, he contemplates the implications of AI in preserving his on-screen presence even after his passing.
The accomplished actor, known for his roles in classics like “Forrest Gump” and “Cast Away,” acknowledges that AI has always been a lingering presence in the industry. While an artificially generated performance may not replicate the nuances of a live performance, Hanks raises an intriguing question—does it ultimately matter?
Hanks has already experienced the integration of AI in movies through his collaborations with director Robert Zemeckis. In 2004’s “The Polar Express,” motion-capture technology was employed to capture Hanks’ facial expressions and movements. Sensors meticulously recorded his unique facial expressions, providing invaluable data for character creation and manipulation.
Although “The Polar Express” is categorized as an animated film, Zemeckis himself challenges this classification. Isaac Kerlow, a former director of digital production at the Walt Disney Co., shed light on the complexity of the production. A state-of-the-art capture system, consisting of multiple Vicon systems with 72 cameras, allowed real-time body and facial capture for up to four actors. With 152 facial markers measuring just 2 mm in diameter, the facial performances were transformed into a custom-designed muscle system, driving the facial rigging for each muscle represented in the film.
Fast forward to the present, where AI continues to evolve. Zemeckis is working on an upcoming project based on a graphic novel. The film aims to utilize AI to de-age the actors and is described as a narrative unfolding within a single room, spanning various periods of time.
To bring this vision to life, Zemeckis has partnered with Metaphysic Live, a technology company renowned for its cutting-edge AI face replacements and de-aging techniques. Metaphysic Live has gained attention for its remarkable deepfake creations, including Tom Cruise on TikTok and an Elvis Presley deepfake on “America’s Got Talent.”
Metaphysic Live’s website highlights their commitment to seamlessly incorporating hyperreal AI-generated face replacements and de-aging into storytelling. In a statement on the company’s site, Zemeckis explains his decision to collaborate with Metaphysic Live, citing their shared vision for pushing the boundaries of AI in the world of filmmaking.
As the entertainment industry continues to embrace AI, Tom Hanks offers his perspectives on its impact, considering both past projects and the future possibilities it holds. With each advancement, the line between reality and digital replication becomes increasingly blurred, opening up a new chapter in the world of cinema.