US Firm Tests AI Actors That Could Change Hollywood 

US Firm Tests AI Actors That Could Change Hollywood 

Hollywood talent firm Creative Artists Agency has started making virtual clones of top film stars using AI under a project supposedly meant to create new acting opportunities for the humans involved.  

Dubbed ‘CAA Vault’, the initiative allows the talent agency’s A-list clients, which include Brad Pitt and Reese Witherspoon, to create digital doppelgangers of themselves, The Information reports.

The AI clones will be used in future film or TV productions, it adds. The move could shake up the entire entertainment industry, which has been on tenterhooks, as advanced AI models come to market.

Also read: Movie Studio Expansion Halted Over Fears About OpenAI’s Sora 

Making AI lookalikes

Creative Artists Agency, or CAA, has been testing the AI lookalikes with a small number of actors on its books since December 2023, working with certain unnamed artificial intelligence companies.

To create the digital clones, the agency uses AI to scan the bodies, voices, and faces of the human actors, according to Alexandra Shannon, head of strategic development at CAA. The clones will be used for things like reshooting, dubbing, and stunt double super-imposing.

“We are scanning their image, we’re scanning their voice, we’re scanning likeness, and we are then storing that on their behalf,” Shannon told an AI conference in London recently, per Fortune.

“We know that the law is going to take time to catch up, and so this is a mechanism for our clients to actually own and have permissions around their digital identity.”

“This provides a way for us to help set a precedent for anyone who wants to work with one of our clients in their digital identity,” she added. “There’s a mechanism to have them be compensated.”

While Shannon argues the CAA Vault initiative benefits the talent agency’s actors, it also threatens to upend the entertainment industry. The average fan could find it hard to distinguish between a real human and an AI replica of the same movie star.

For Hollywood, the community has already been bracing for the impact of AI. In February, Tyler Perry stopped the $800 million expansion of his studio in Atlanta over concerns about OpenAI’s Sora AI model, which creates ‘realistic’ videos from text prompts.

Nothing to see here

Perry spoke about his ‘shock’ over Sora’s capabilities and said the generative AI technology will lead to massive job losses in the film sector. His fears are shared by many in Hollywood and elsewhere.

Last year, writers and actors went on a strike that lasted five months. Writers were worried AI could take their jobs, and actors feared being replaced by the technology on set. The strike ended with an agreement between studio owners and workers.

Rafael Brown, CEO of the game development studio Symbol Zero, said it is “funny but sad” to see Creative Artists Agency refer to its CAA Vault as AI when it “wasn’t” artificial intelligence.

Writing on LinkedIn, Brown said games and films have been using this “non-AI tech for 25 years now.” He was commenting on CAA’s post about its new AI scanning technology.

“This has almost nothing to do with Al, absolutely nothing to do with ‘generative’ Al, and has been used by every major Marvel and DC movie and started with a movie back in 2000 called the Matrix,” he argued.

“Most of what is needed is not Al but photogrammetry motion capture and 3D modeling.”

“This post from CAA is like saying, ‘is coffee better with Al?'” Brown mocked. “Maybe I dunno, but it’s not necessary in fact l have tried to get people intrested in using Al in this process in the past, and no one cared.”

AI actors: No free rides

Alexandra Shannon, the CAA strategic development head, said studios looking to use the AI-generated digital lookalikes of the celebrities it represents will have to pay the same rate as though they were working with the actual human actor.

“If you’re going to work with somebody’s digital self, you aren’t working with that business because you think you can work with that person in a cheaper way that is creating some big cost efficiency for you,” she warned.

“At the end of the day, you’re working with somebody—the value is still in that person representing your brand.”

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.