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Lucasfilm hires YouTube artist behind 'Star Wars' deepfake

It appears that the digital artist, known only as 'Shamook,' will fill the gap where Lucasfilm's current digital de-ageing techniques are failing. Latest example: bringing Mark Hamill as young Luke Skywalker in the second season of 'The Mandalorian'

Published: Jul 31, 2021 07:15:17 AM IST
Updated: Jul 31, 2021 01:55:32 PM IST

Lucasfilm hires YouTube artist behind 'Star Wars' deepfakeImage: Shutterstock

A YouTuber famous for making "deepfakes" of scenes from iconic film and television shows including "Star Wars" has landed a job at Lucasfilm after wowing bosses at the Disney-owned company.

The digital artist known only as "Shamook" is famous online for using cutting-edge technology to seamlessly map the faces of famous stars onto other actors' bodies.

Popular videos created by the technical whiz include pasting Robert Pattinson's visage onto Christian Bale's Batman, and imagining a young Mel Gibson had returned in place of Tom Hardy in 2015's "Mad Max: Fury Road."

But his work on the climactic scene of "The Mandalorian" season two appeared to particularly impress Lucasfilm.

The "Star Wars" TV series set five years after the 1983 film "Return of the Jedi" concluded with a surprise appearance from Mark Hamill, who was digitally de-aged to play a young Luke Skywalker once again.

Many of Shamook's 90,000 followers felt his amateur reworking of the scene surpassed the official version now streaming on Disney+.

Lucasfilm's visual effects team 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'," a spokesman said in a statement sent to AFP.

"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."

Shamook first revealed the hire on YouTube, telling followers his new title was "Senior Facial Capture Artist."

Disney is working on around 10 new "Star Wars" TV series, buoyed by the success of "The Mandalorian," which was nominated for a whopping 24 Emmys and introduced viewers around the world to the adorable fan favorite Baby Yoda.

Several "Star Wars" films are in the works too, including "Rogue Squadron" from "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins, and another currently being written by Taika Waititi ("Jojo Rabbit").

While similar technology is increasingly employed for mainstream uses such as Hollywood productions, "deepfakes" can also be used to spread deliberate misinformation.

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