The world of YouTube is a strange place. Pop stars have been discovered, kids have become celebrities just for opening a box of toys, and now it looks like a deepfake video has led to one user being given a job at Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic. While this isn't something that happens very often, it seems that one video posted by YouTuber Shamook, in which he created a deepfake video to improve Luke Skywalker's appearance in the finale of The Mandalorian Season 2, attracted enough attention to land him what can only be assumed to be a dream job.
The video in question is a deepfake that takes the scenes of a de-aged Mark Hamill as seen in The Mandalorian and considerably improves the quality. The scenes were criticized for looking too fake and digitized, and Shamook's version rectifies many of the issues with the original footage. The video was uploaded back in December, having being created by Shamook in four days, and has since racked up over two million views.
In a comment earlier this month, the YouTuber wrote, "As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilm a few months ago and haven't had the time to work on any new YouTube content. Now I've settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They'll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart. Enjoy!"
The information has been confirmed by IndieWire, who contacted ILM and received a reply from a Lucasfilm representative which read, "[Industrial Light and Magic is] always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona 'Shamook'. Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it's been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances."
In recent years there has been a surge in the use of digital de-aging of celebrities, with varying levels of success. Similar to the technology that was used to create a digitally rendered version of Grand Moff Tarkin actor Peter Cushing in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, de-aging is being used to allow an older actor to play a younger version of themselves without the need for another actor to be cast in the role. How successful the process turns out seems to sporadic and individual to each instance.
Will Smith was de-aged to allow him to face off against his younger self in Gemini Man, and while the movie itself was given a lukewarm reception, the effect of the de-aging itself was a massive leap forward in what could be achieved. Other movies to have heavily relied on the effect have been Marvel's Captain Marvel, which de-aged Samuel L Jackson for the entire movie, The Irishman, and it would appear to some extent Indiana Jones 5 will also be embracing it.
For would be visual effects artists out there, seeing someone turn their passion into their dream job with the help of YouTube will likely lead to whole new wave of users hoping to be the next to be noticed by one of the industry giants. While rare in occurrence, Shamook's story just proves that sometimes dreams do come true. This news originated at IndieWire.