Synthetic media: a head-on attack on our belief in reliability

Deep fakes are increasingly impressive. Thanks to face swaps and fast AI-based voice cloning, our entire sense of reality is being transformed. It has already reached the point where people are already beginning to suspect a recording of a real Donald Trump that it is fake. A critical eye can still see small imperfections, but they will one day disappear.

Deep fakes and more generally synthetic media were discussed yesterday during the first (still) virtual Cross Media Cafe of this year, Media Perspective’s regular series of infowebcasts.

Synthetic media is a term used for content generated not by humans but by computers. You watch video that looks real, but in fact you see footage produced by an algorithm. That is of course not new. Computer-generated sets have been used by television since the 1970s.

Johan Oomen, Head of Research at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision showed some of the creative ways in which synthetic media are used. Among other things, we saw a Japanese mother who was allowed to virtually recommend her deceased young daughter. Judging by her strong emotions, this experience must have been very real. Virtual faces are also increasingly used for company chat services, because customers prefer interaction with real faces.

The Dutch AI startup LaLaLand is already making artificial photo models using neural networks. This allows e-commerce parties such as Wehkamp and Sapph to offer their wares with models based on age, size and ethnicity. These are generic persons who cannot easily be traced back to existing persons, but cannot be distinguished from real persons. Now it is still about photography, but CCO Harold Smeeman does not rule out video.

Mao Lin Liao from REBLIKA. creates digital 3D characters for games, movies and online using techniques such as digital captures, facial rigging and simulation FX. For fashion brand Balmain they made an online fashion show in which all of this came together. Mao Lin Liao notes that virtual figures are appreciated more by corona. “People look for distraction and enjoy communicating with computer-generated people.”

It’s not just about virtual people. Sarina von Reth, Chief Producer at Kaap Holland Series & Dead Duck Productions talked about the Videoland Original ‘Barrie Barista’ and ‘Het Einde Der Tijden’. During the recordings, LED screens were used on which a real-time dynamic background was realized. This technique is also used in international productions such as ‘The Mandalorian’, but is new for the Netherlands. According to Von Reth, the use of this technology was prompted by production limitations during the first corona measures, but she emphasizes the high costs involved.

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Source: Nieuws – Emerce by www.emerce.nl.

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