Technology

Lionsgate removed more than 30 F-bombs from the movie ‘Fall’ using deepfake technology

In context: Despite getting a mostly bad rap, deepfake technology does have legitimate uses in Hollywood. Using machine learning to sync actors’ lips to alternate soundtracks — foreign languages, for example — can make a film less distracting for the audience. Lionsgate recently used it to remove F-words from a movie to improve its MPAA rating.

The upcoming film “Fall” by Director Scott Mann found itself in a pickle when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rated it R for US audiences. Evidently, the MPAA took offense to all the F-bombs. It was unfortunate because they wanted a PG-13 to keep it open to a broader audience.

“When we were filming the movie, we didn’t know if we were R or if we were PG-13, so I said the F-word so many times,” co-star Virginia Gardner told Variety. “I think [director Scott Mann] wanted to kill me in post when we were trying to get a PG-13 rating.”

The restricted rating was bad news because the low $3 million budget didn’t allow for reshooting scenes.

“For a movie like this, we can’t reshoot it. We’re not a big tentpole… we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the time, more than anything else,” said Mann. “What really saved this movie and brought it into a wider audience was technology.”

As luck would have it, in addition to directing the film, Mann is the founder and co-CEO of Flawless AI. Flawless uses neural networks and machine learning to seamlessly dub movies, typically to voice them in other languages. The AI can sync actors’ lips to an alternate audio track.

Flawless sells its services to the film industry, but with Mann at the helm of Fall, the producers at Lionsgate certainly got a hefty discount. Mann notes that the post-production dubbing only took two weeks. The results remain to be seen, but judging by the company’s showreel above, audiences should not even notice Gardner’s “fricks” were actually “f*cks.”

Deepfake tech has been a somewhat controversial subject. Opponents fear that bad actors could use it to make propaganda showing trusted elected officials making statements that never really occurred. It has also already been used to create sex scenes by seamlessly (almost) fusing celebrities’ faces onto porn actresses’ bodies. At least Flawless AI found a legitimate and practical purpose for the technology.

Fall is about two women who climb to the top of a radio tower in the middle of nowhere and get stuck with no easy way down. It stars Virginia Gardner (American Horror Stories), Grace Fulton (Shazam!), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead). It premiers This weekend starting Friday.

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