Re-aging technology is all the rage in Hollywood right now. In the past five years alone, actors including Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Chris Evans, Keanu Reeves, Mark Hamill, and Ewan McGregor have been subjected to various forms of age-altering digital wizardry in a range of big budget movies and TV shows. series.
In most cases, these attempts to trick audiences into thinking that movie stars are significantly younger or older than their off-screen counterparts are unconvincing at best and downright embarrassing at worst (looking at you, The Mandalorian), but there are are indications that progress is being made.
Harrison Ford’s upcoming turn as a 30-year-old Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones 5, at least, looks like it will be a turning point for the development of re-aging technology – and Disney, in particular, seems to be leading the charge. improve the quality of age-altered content.
Whether by chance or design, the good folks at Disney’s visual effects division announced a major breakthrough in digital re-aging technology just one day before Lucasfilm pulled the pin on its first Indiana Jones 5 trailer.
In a new research paper (opens in new tab)the entertainment giant is announcing its proprietary Face Re-aging Network, or FRAN, as “the first practical, fully automatic and production-ready method of re-aging faces” – and what we’ve seen from the technology so far looks mighty impressive from .
Using a program called StyleGAN2, which generates thousands of artificial faces to more accurately predict the changing appearance of the human face over long periods of time, FRAN eliminates the costly and time-consuming need to manually collect data about these changes.
In other words, Disney’s visual effects department has developed an algorithm that virtually tracks the aging process to more effectively apply authentic physical changes to real subjects.
See FRAN in action via the demonstration video below, shared on November 30 on Disney’s DisneyResearchHub YouTube channel.
Pretty amazing, right? Disney’s report claims that FRAN “provides artists with localized control and creative freedom to direct and fine-tune the re-aging effect,” and the House of Mouse clearly considers the technology good enough for mainstream film and TV productions. production.
If anything, in our eyes, FRAN’s results are an improvement over nearly all the aging effects we’ve used in movies over the past few years — and it’s likely that the software behind them comes at a much, much lower cost, too.
That should be great news for filmmakers, film studios and film fans alike. Scorsese’s use of aging effects in his 2019 gangster epic The Irishman, for example Reportedly (opens in new tab) ate up a large portion of the film’s $159 million budget — a move that most accounts considered a waste of money considering how inauthentic those effects turned out to be on screen.
But if movie studios could use re-aging technology of the kind made possible by FRAN – as Lucasfilm seems to have done with Indiana Jones 5 – then we could see more and more aging Hollywood heroes turn back time to, well yes, time.
Sure, nothing can last forever, but who wouldn’t want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger return as primetime Terminator for one last hurrah?