Disney’s new neural network can change an actor’s age with ease

Enlarge / An example of the AI ​​changing the age of Disney’s FRAN showing the original image on the left and re-aged rows of older (top, at 65) and younger (bottom, at 18) examples of the same person.

Disney researchers have created a new neural network that can alter the visual age of actors on TV or in movies, reports Gizmodo. The technology will allow film or television producers to make actors appear older or younger through an automated process that will be less expensive and time consuming than previous methods.

Traditionally, when special effects personnel on a film or video production need to make an actor appear older or younger (a technique Disney calls “re-aging”), they typically use a process of 3D scanning and modeling. 3D or a frame by frame 2D. -Digital retouching of frames of the actor’s face using tools similar to Photoshop. This process can take weeks or longer, depending on the length of the job.

In contrast, Disney’s new AI technique, called the Face Re-aging Network (FRAN), automates the process. Disney calls it “the first practical, fully automatic, production-ready method of de-aging faces in video footage.”

A research demo video for Disney’s aging technology.

To build FRAN, the Disney researchers randomly generated thousands of examples of synthetically aged faces between the ages of 18 and 85 using StyleGAN2. With that training data in hand, FRAN learned the general principles of how a person’s appearance changes with age. Now that the training is complete, you can apply those de-aging principles to a real actor in motion, frame by frame.

“Our network is trained in a supervised manner on a large number of pairs of facial images depicting the same synthetic, photorealistic person, labeled with corresponding source and target ages,” the researchers wrote in a corresponding academic paper. By generating the training data synthetically, they avoided the “seemingly impossible task” of collecting images that represent “a variety of identities, ages, and ethnicities in different viewpoints.”

The result is what Disney calls a “production-ready” solution, meaning it creates high-quality output high enough to be used in an actual movie or TV show. It is possibly the first AI solution of its kind that can dynamically alter the age of an actor in a video despite variable expressions, lighting conditions, and viewpoints. The researchers also developed a user-friendly interface for FRAN that will allow artists to easily use the tool in a production environment.

Disney presented the research in a paper titled “Production-Ready Facial Reaging for Visual Effects” on Wednesday and submitted it for inclusion at the ACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2022 conference in December. The article’s authors include Gaspard Zoss, Prashanth Chandran, Eftychios Sifakis, Markus Gross, Paulo Gotardo, and Derek Bradley, all affiliated with Disney Research Studios in Zurich, Switzerland.

Given Disney’s history with inserting CGI actors into Star Wars movies and TV shows, including some that have been cGI-shrinked, we wouldn’t be surprised to see FRAN-like technology widely used in future Disney productions. although there are no plans. been announced.

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