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Deepfake and digital avatars


Deepfakes often get bad press, but they hold a largely untapped upside for creators, especially brands that use celebrities in their advertising.

Whether creating fake Tom Cruise TikToks, generating episodes of The Simpsons by recreating Homer’s distinct voice, or a celebrity-fronted campaign where some footballer can send a near-infinite permutation of personalized video messages to fans, deepfake’s AI-led technology means digital people and their voices are often recreated in faster and less expensive ways than ever before, without sacrificing authenticity.

What’s more, the resulting content becomes 100% ownable and versatile, thus opening up a replacement world of long-term possibilities.

Steady maturation of the deepfake technology

Deepfake has been around for a short time, but it fully hit radars in 2017 when videos seemingly featuring famous actors caused viewers to try to take a double-take. The technology has matured since then and evolved to include super-efficient production processes that make creation quicker and simpler. So it’s no wonder this AI technique is growing in popularity – if you’ve used the face-swapping app Reface, you’ve been deepfaked.

Taking its name from “deep learning,” where a machine teaches itself using artificial neural networks, almost like how the human brain works, deepfake content alters or swaps faces to make reproduced images and videos that look convincingly real.

Ethical concerns are often raised if used without consent, but with the protagonist’s permission, deepfake becomes a highly effective tool to make jaw-dropping content that entertains and engages.

Poor quality creation wont to give the sport away, with fuzzy edges and odd facial movements throwing some iterations into the “uncanny valley.” But with technology advancing at speed and techniques being finessed, the deepfake process now offers a really viable and lifelike alternative to making content with “real” people. And that’s where it becomes interesting for brands, particularly those looking to leverage talent partnerships.

A panacea for limited celebrity availability

Back within the old days, celebrity-fronted campaign shoots were dictated by said A-lister’s hectic diary, making it hard for brands to pin them down and maximize the budget. But deepfake has freed us from this hindrance. Why? Because all the deepfake process must get cracking is prime reference footage of the celebrity’s basic movements and conversational phrases…content which will be captured in just minutes, instead of days, but continues to get a content store of nearly limitless potential. Once the building blocks are in place, the deepfaked celeb is often made to try to do anything, providing the consent is in place.

Opening up an intimate dialogue

Deepfake’s flexible nature means the content is often personalized, creating a totally rewarding experience for the buyer. There’s already an enormous appetite for conversational connection, as shown by the runaway success of the celebrity video messaging platform, Cameo.

Deepfake technology furthers this chance for private dialogue while using only a fraction of the talent’s time. From chatbots to voice AI technology, brands often investigate implementing technology that reduces costs and improves customer engagement across digital products. Deepfake is that the new kid on the block, giving brands warm humanity, helping them move from cold automation to intimate customer communication.

The growing appetite for digital avatars

The pandemic-accelerated shift to online has furthered the growing trend for “fully digital avatars” like Lil Michaela, Samsung’s Neon, and Magic Leap’s Mica. These are particularly prevalent within the music and entertainment worlds, but gaining traction elsewhere, as are often seen in H&M’s use of a digital Maisie Williams for its new Loop garment recycling campaign. These virtual humans can appear incredibly lifelike when created with volumetric capture, requiring only a brief amount of studio time with talent.

Unreal Engine’s super realistic new Metahumans tool means building and manipulating avatars has never been easier. Between these advances and deepfake tech, brands can now immortalize their collaborators in an ownable virtual form, with infinite options to quickly answer social trends, attend virtual events, or be placed within a branded game. and everyone without requiring the talent’s overtime.

Creating influencers at the speed of culture

With maturing technology enabling the creation of increasingly realistic digitized versions of famous faces, there’s huge innovation potential for brands to make customizable, inclusive, and ownable sponsorship content that has a real impact.

By gaining approved control of a digital version of a true person, creative possibilities around the resulting avatar become compellingly endless. Because of the evolution of tech like deepfake, brands can now create ownable brand ambassadors beyond the quality TVC; human faces that provide helpful, rewarding, and personalized experiences. and everyone created at the lightning-fast speed of culture.