New AI Can Replace Any Actor In Any Movie With A Simple Mouse Click

AI startup Wonder Dynamics is developing tech to detect and replace actors completely digitally.

By Jessica Scott | Updated


AI is here, and it’s just about ready to replace humans in everything from dating apps to movies – even big-name actors and actresses. “The big picture is we want to have a platform where any kid can sit and direct films by sitting at his computer and typing,” says Nikola Todorovic of Wonder Dynamics, as reported by The Byte. To put it simply, soon it will be possible for anyone to replace any actor in a movie with just a mouse click.

Wonder Dynamics is an AI start-up that was founded by Todorovic and Tye Sheridan, whose name you might recognize from the Steven Spielberg film Ready Player One. Together, they built a tool that makes it possible to automatically detect actors and replace them with others. The tool also “does camera motion, lighting, color, replaces the actor fully with CG.” So, basically, anyone could stand in for an actor and a totally different character or creature could just be plopped in later thanks to AI.

Tye Sheridan in Ready Player One

So far, there are two main ways of thinking about this new AI. The first is: “Wow, that’s kind of awesome!” The second is: “Wow… everyone is going to be out of a job.” And we’re not just talking about the actors and actresses who would quite possibly become superfluous. We’re talking about the visual effects artists who spent years studying their craft and whose livelihood depends on doing computer graphics for movies.

Todorovik and Sheridan, though, insist that that second line of thinking is incorrect. In fact, according to them, this new AI tool will only help VFX artists. “This doesn’t disrupt what they’re doing,” Todorovik said, “it automates 80 to 90 percent of the objective VFX work and leaves them with the subjective work.” So, in effect, it would simplify their job and leave them more time to carry out the more nuanced, artful work. 

They made this tool specifically for artists, Sheridan and Todorovik say… even if, at the end of the day, this is another case in which AI would be replacing human workers in a big way. 

Still, though, the VFX industry needs all the help it can get at the moment. As anyone who witnessed the awful special effects in the latest Ant-Man movie can tell you, cuts to budgets and overwhelmed VFX staff have been making for some pretty sub-par scenes lately. The general strategy recently has been to just rush around and fix everything in post-production, which leads to even more rushing around, a lot of overworked artists, and a lot of sloppy work.

Wonder Studio, the name for this new AI tool, is not only for VFX workers, though. It can theoretically be used by anyone and comes pre-loaded with existing characters to help with storyboarding and to give users an idea of how their scenes could look. Soon, the founders intend to build out the tool to include CG environments as well. 

If you want to see firsthand how this AI technology works, you can check out a preview video on Wonder Dynamics’ website. The video, which is almost like a trailer for a movie, shows you how easy it is to swap out human actors for robots or aliens or anything you want, which is, honestly, both kind of cool and kind of frightening.