Finally, a story about deepfakes that’s free from the moral squishiness and consent issues that plague the people creating them. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Lucasfilm confirmed that the company had hired a popular deepfake creator as a “senior facial capture artist” under the company’s computer graphics subsidiary, Industrial Light and Magic.
The creator, a UK-based YouTuber named Shamook, had recently garnered fame in the Star wars community after one of his deepfaked videos ended up going viral. The clip was specifically designed to improve the appearance of a young Mark Hamill during The Mandalorian season two finale and has racked up more than two million views on YouTube.
And it’s easy to see why—looking at Shamook’s deepfake work alongside the work of Industrial Light and Magic (the Lucasfilm division responsible for these sorts of CG graphics), the hobbyist’s work is arguably better than that of the pros.
Apparently, the clip was good enough to convince the Industrial Light and Magic team to recruit Shamook for the Mandalorian’s upcoming seasons. “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,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Indiewire about the hire. They added that the company is “always on the lookout for talented artists,” and that it’s “it’s been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances.”
Shamook hinted to the hire earlier this month in a comment left on his YouTube channel noting that since joining up with Lucasfilm earlier this year, he hasn’t “had the time to work on any new YouTube content,” on his channel, though he also added that now that he’s “settled” into the role, “uploads should start increasing again.”
While his Luke Skywalker deepfake clip might have been his big break, Shamook’s been using deepfake technology to create all sorts of content since his channel first debuted in 2018. He’s used his skills to put a deepfaked Will Smith into the Matrix franchise, to smooth over Henry Cavill’s face during his appearance in the 2017 Justice League film, and de-age a somewhat wrinkly Robert De Niro. Hopefully, in this new role, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Shamook’s work on the big screen.