Disney’s new AI makes your favorite actor look older or younger
- December 2, 2022
- No Comment
Visual effects experts at Disney say they have developed AI technology that can visually age and age actors faster, cheaper and more accurately than any current methods. In research published Wednesday, the team described the Face Re-aging Network, or FRAN, as “the first practical, fully automated, production-ready method for re-aging faces.”
The industry standard for artificially aging performers — the use of 2D painting — “requires manual frame-by-frame work that can take days,” the researchers added.
And existing methods for automating the process “typically suffer from loss of facial identity, poor resolution, and unstable results across subsequent video frames.”
The success of film franchises makes aging and de-aging effects very popular: A much younger Harrison Ford appears in the new trailer for Indiana Jones and the Wheel of Fortune.
But the effort isn’t easy — or always successful: Making Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci look youthful in 2019’s The Irishman was exorbitantly expensive, Engadget reported. And the attempt to age Jeff Bridges by more than a quarter of a century for 2010’s Tron: Legacy has been described as “hilarious”.
The main problem was that it was “nearly impossible to collect enough images of people aging to successfully train an AI,” the researchers wrote.
So they used StyleGAN2, a program that creates artificial faces, to create thousands of samples of people ranging in age from 18 to 85. With this data, they were able to develop algorithms for how the appearance typically changes over time – for example, where wrinkles appear and how jaws start to sag.
Artificial faces aged with Disney’s FRAN neural network.
The simple and intuitive technology “gives artists localized control and creative freedom to direct and refine the re-aging effect,” the team said.
They believe the results are good enough that a film or TV show production crew could use FRAN to present an aged or aging performer with a variety of expressions, using multiple lighting conditions and viewpoints.
A synthetic face generated by FRAN is aged and aged by Disney researchers.
Disney Research Studios