When 2017 superhero flick Justice League went through $25 million worth of “extensive reshoots,” there was one particularly unexpected hurdle: Henry Cavill’s mustache. The actor, who plays Superman in the DC universe, had grown the soup strainer for his role in Mission: Impossible 6. But when reshoots for Justice League came around, he couldn’t just shave the thing off, so it had to be digitally edited out. It looked... not great. But can cheap AI do better?
In the video above, one internet user shows how the latest machine learning-powered image manipulation techniques handle the task of facial topiary. The results? Pretty good! At least, pretty good at a low resolution and when compared to one particularly dire shot. (If you look at other Justice League clips on YouTube, the CGI work doesn’t all seem to have been as bad as the example below.)
The important thing, though, is that the AI method is cheap. It’s not clear exactly how much it cost Warner Bros. to remove Cavill’s mustache, but it was certainly more than the price of a midrange PC and half a day’s worth of tinkering (which is all that this video needed).
The products of this sort of AI face-swapping are known as “deepfakes,” and they’ve become all the rage in certain parts of the internet. This is mostly thanks to their use in creating face-swapped porn, with users on Reddit using the tech to paste celebrities’ likenesses onto adult clips. They claim that no one’s getting hurt, but it’s still a violation of peoples’ right not to be, you know, turned into porn against their will and have these clips shared around the internet.
On a lighter note, people are also using the tech to insert Nicolas Cage into movies he never starred in. Welcome to 2018, I guess?