I recently re-watched Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It mostly held up — except for Lucasfilm’s attempt to bring Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia and Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin back to the big screen using CGI. That’s something that only bugged me the tiniest bit the first time I watched it.
But Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic may now have the ability to make those movies a tad more futureproof, because it’s hired a YouTuber who specializes in deepfaking Star Wars and other big-budget movies, showing up their CGI de-aging techniques. Shamook is the one who “fixed” Luke Skywalker’s cameo in The Mandalorian to the tune of 1.9 million views, and the improvements to Rogue One’s Tarkin are phenomenal:
Peter Cushing was certainly thin in the role, but he no longer looks quite so emaciated.
Instead of ordering YouTube to yank the content or sending cease-and-desists, IndieWire now reports Lucasfilm decided to hire Shamook instead to do what they apparently love. “[Industrial Light and Magic is] always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona ‘Shamook,’” a Lucasfilm representative told IndieWire (via CNET). “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.”
In the YouTube comments on a recent video, Shamook says their new title is “Senior Facial Capture Artist.”
I’m not sure Shamook’s results are always better than the originals; many still have that uncanny, mask-like quality that’s still common to a lot of deepfakes today, and they don’t have the benefit of all the additional CG lighting work that clearly went into Disney’s modern films and shows. But perhaps by combining ideas, they can reach new heights.
Shamook also has a penchant for swapping stars, famously inserting Harrison Ford into Solo: A Star Wars Story.