Deepfakes Against Profanity: Film Makers of Fall Used AI to Remove F-Words

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Clip from the movie Fall showing one of the protagonists falling from a radio antenna.

Deepfake technology enabled a feature film to reach a broader audience.

What’s new: Fall, a thriller about two friends who climb a 2,000-foot tower only to find themselves trapped at the top, originally included over 30 instances of a certain offensive word. The filmmakers deepfaked the picture to clean up the language, enabling the film to earn a rating that welcomes younger viewers, Variety reported.

How it works: Director and co-writer Scott Mann re-recorded the film’s actors reciting more family-friendly versions of the troublesome word. Then he used a generative adversarial network to regenerate the actors’ lip motions to match the revised dialog.

  • Built by London-based Flawless AI, where Mann is co-CEO, the system combined an image of the actor’s face from the original film with estimated lip motion based on the re-recorded words. The company developed it to alter lip motion in movies whose dialog was dubbed into foreign language.
  • The process of revising the off-color language added two weeks to the film’s post-production schedule.
  • Following the revisions, the Motion Picture Association changed the film’s rating from R, which requires audience members under 17 years old to be accompanied by an adult, to PG-13, which is open to all ages.

Behind the news: Neural networks are increasingly common in the edit suite.

  • Director Peter Jackson used neural networks to isolate dialogue in footage of the Beatles for his 2021 documentary Get Back.
  • In the 2021 biopic Roadrunner, filmmaker Morgan Neville synthesized the voice of the deceased celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. The generated voice recited quotations from emails the chef wrote before his death.
  • The English-language release of the 2020 Polish film Mistrz (The Champion) used a neural network from Tel Aviv-based Adapt Entertainment to adjust actors’ lips to dubbed audio.

Why it matters: Fall’s distributor Lionsgate determined that the movie would make more money if it was aimed at a younger audience. However, reshooting the offending scenes might have taken months and cost millions of dollars. AI offered a relatively affordable solution.

We’re thinking: The global popularity of shows like Squid Game, in which the original dialog is Korean, and La Casa de Papel, in which the actors speak Spanish, suggest that dialog replacement could be a blockbuster AI application.

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