Ah, deepfakes. The tech has grown increasingly impressive (and increasingly scary) over the last few years, with actors miraculously aged, de-aged and indeed replaced with ever-growing realism. But while the effect has been put to good use by Hollywood, some of the most incredible deepfakes belong to the internet.
One such example is this stunning Star Wars example (below), which sees an amateur deepfaker significantly improve Lucasfilm's attempt to include a young Luke Skywalker in Disney+'s The Mandalorian. Well, amateur is no longer the right word – the creator has just been snapped up for a job with, you guessed it, Lucasfilm. (Haven't seen The Mandalorian yet? Here's how to get 15% off Disney+).
While the official effort looks decidedly video game-esque, with overly smooth skin and those infamous deepfake 'dead eyes', Shamook's effort is far more realistic. Indeed, it's as though a young Mark Hamill himself really is appearing in The Mandalorian, as opposed to a PS3-era rendering.
And in a delightful development, the video (and perhaps several others, like the incredible Han Solo deepfake – below) got Shamook hired. "As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilms a few months ago and haven't had the time to work on any new YouTube content," Shamook commented on a recent video. "Now I've settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They'll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart."
Lucasfilm also made its own statement via its VFX division, Industrial Light and Magic. "ILM always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona ‘Shamook. Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it’s been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances.”
YouTube users have rushed to congratulated Shamook. "The fact you were hired by Lucasfilm after making this makes this so much better," one user comments, while another adds, "The fact that Lucasfilm has hired you makes me hope they’ll update the scene to this version."
From these eerily realistic Tom Cruise deepfakes to this contemporary recast of Back to the Future, we've seen all manner of weird and wonderful examples of the tech lately. If you fancy going further down the deepfake hole, check out these 10 deepfake examples that terrified and amused the internet. And if you fancy creating your own, take a look at the best computers for video editing.