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 magic in a host of big-budget movies, TV shows and series.
In most cases, these attempts to trick audiences into thinking movie stars are younger or older than their off-screen counterparts have come off as less-than-convincing at best and embarrassing at worst (looking at you, The Mandalorian), but the evidence does point to a score. progress.
Harrison Ford’s upcoming turn as a 30-year-old Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones 5 appears, at the very least, to mark a watershed moment for the development of re-aging technology — and Disney, in particular, appears to be leading the way in improving the quality of age-changing content.
Whether by accident or design, the good folks at Disney’s visual effects department announced a major advance in digital re-aging technology just a day before Lucasfilm pulled the pin on the first Indiana Jones 5 trailer.
in New research paper (Opens in a new tab)the entertainment giant is touting its Face Re-Age Network, or FRAN, as “the first practical, fully automatic, production-ready method for re-aging faces” — and what we’ve seen from the technology so far looks pretty impressive.
By using software called StyleGAN2, which generates thousands of synthetic faces to more accurately predict the changing appearance of a human face over long periods of time, FRAN gets rid of the costly and time-consuming need to manually collect data on these changes.
In other words, Disney’s visual effects division developed an algorithm that roughly tracks the aging process in order to apply more effective physical modifications to real-life subjects.
Catch FRAN in action via the demo video below, which was shared on the DisneyResearchHub YouTube channel on November 30.
So amazing, isn’t it? The Disney report claims that FRAN “provides artists with local control and creative freedom to direct and adjust the effect of re-aging,” and the House of Mouse clearly considers the technology good enough for mainstream film and television production.
In our view, at least, FRAN’s results are an improvement over nearly all of the anti-aging effects we’ve seen used in movies over the past few years — and the software behind them likely comes at a much lower cost, too.
This must be great news for filmmakers, movie studios, and movie fans alike. Scorsese’s use of de-aging effects in the 2019 gangster epic The Irishman, for example, It said (Opens in a new tab) It ate up a huge chunk of the film’s $159 million budget – a move that, by most accounts, was a waste of money given the insincerity of these on-screen effects.
But if movie studios can use re-aging technology of the kind FRAN has made available – as Lucasfilm appears to have done with Indiana Jones 5 – we could see more and more aging Hollywood heroes going back in, well, time.
Sure, nothing can last forever — but who wouldn’t want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger return as a primetime wrecker for one last party?