In recent years, deepfake videos have become very popular, with lots of talented folks showcasing their ability to improve on polarizing visual effects in films. YouTube is filled with deepfake videos featuring popular movie characters like Luke Skywalker and Wolverine. But as good as some of these clips are, it’s usually nothing more than a hobby – until now.
Shamook, a popular deepfake YouTuber, recently announced that he had joined the team at Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic after improving the visual effects used in The Mandalorian’s season two finale. The video which cleans up Mark Hamill’s de-aged Luke Skywalker gained over two million views on YouTube and caught the attention of the series’ bosses.
“As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilms a few months ago and haven’t had the time to work on any new YouTube content,” Shamook wrote in the comment section of a recent video. “Now I’ve settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They’ll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart.”
Thanks to his Luke Skywalker fix, Shamook is now the Senior Facial Capture Artist at Industrial Light and Magic. A Lucasfilm representative confirmed their new hire in a statement via IndieWire.
“Industrial Light and Magic is always on the lookout for talented artists and have 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.”
Although Star Wars fans were delighted to see a young Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian, the character’s overall look drew a lot of criticism. So when Shamook’s video (which he completed in just four days) was uploaded on December 21, fans couldn’t help but make comparisons in the YouTuber’s favor.
The most notable use of de-aging visual effects came with the release of Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated film The Irishman, which used the technology to de-age Robert De Niro by decades. The de-aging process divided viewers and resulted in another viral video for Shamook.
For anyone who doesn’t know, deepfakes are a form of synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. While the act of faking content is not new, deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive.
While it’s a great way to include a young Luke Skywalker in a new television show, these videos have also been used for malicious reasons like creating fake news, spreading hoaxes, and financial fraud. This has elicited responses from various governments to detect and limit their use. Hopefully, deepfakes can be limited to the entertainment industry, because as the great philosopher Stan Lee once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Meanwhile, fans are hopeful that Mark Hamill will be returning for The Mandalorian’s third season. Season two ended with Din Djarin giving Grogu permission to go with Luke Skywalker (a Jedi that Grogu contacted on Tython) and R2-D2 to complete his training. Fett and Fennec were seen traveling to Jabba’s Palace on Tatooine where Fett killed Bib Fortuna and claims the throne.
Although the plot for The Mandalorian season three remains a mystery, most of the cast is expected to return. Pedro Pascal will (obviously) continue to star as Din Djarin, with Carl Weathers (Greef Karga) and Giancarlo Esposito (Moff Gideon) returning as well.
Created by Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian is set five years after Return of the Jedi and 25 years before The Force Awakens. The story follows a Mandalorian bounty hunter named Din Djarin who is protecting a highly coveted Jedi-powered being, called The Child (aka Baby Yoda), from falling into the hands of the Imperial Empire.