Deepfake, virtual scenery and other technologies for cinema

The use of innovative technologies in film production became one of the key topics of the first day of the international forum of creative leaders and the world of intellectual property IPQuorum 2021: Tech for Content, which was held on April 26-27 at the Technopark of the Skolkovo Innovation Center. Discussions “Everything is possible on the screen” and “One warrior in the field: a cinematographer of a new formation” were devoted to this.

In recent years, the use of new technologies in cinema has been perceived as a trend that contributes to the development of expressive means and forms a film language more accessible to the viewer. On the other hand, it looks like a problem due to which the artistic level of the content and the realism of the action decrease: the picture looks too conventional, like in a computer game; many traditional filmmaking professions are also dying.

One of the most scandalous cases of using technology in video production is Sber’s commercial, in which the character of the famous Soviet comedy “Ivan Vasilyevich Changes His Profession” Georges Miloslavsky was recreated with the help of deepfake. This became possible thanks to the work of the company, which creates high-tech deepfake models. According to the general director of Maria Chmir, in the near future, video content will be created that will surprise viewers much more than Georges Miloslavsky: “Our team generates people’s faces and figures so that no one sees any difference from the original. Now we are developing a way to create content from photography and text, that is, we strive to create videos without filming. The author will be able to control the formation of content only with the help of text.”

Indeed, in cinema everything starts with a text, but often the scriptwriter’s fantasy contradicts the technical capabilities of the industry. Now digital technologies are capable of realizing movie scripts that ten years ago producers were sending “on the shelf” due to the complexity of production. For example, the technology of filming on virtual scenery made it possible to shoot the film Sakharov. Two Lives ”, the plot of which is based on the life, work and scientific forecasts of the outstanding Soviet scientist Andrei Sakharov. The picture has become the most technologically complex Russian film project to produce over the past decade.

The camera moves, and the virtual decoration obeys the movement of the camera, which creates a sense of reality. Thanks to the parallax effect, the viewer seems to be standing on a balcony and looking into another world, and not into the projection screen. Why didn’t we use chroma key? The famous director Werner Herzog said that an actor should feel the scenery as if he had been living in it for many years. Our Sakharov, played by actor Alexei Usoltsev, knew where the frying pan was, where to get the cottage cheese, where the floorboard creaked, from where the air tram was flying, at what moment the hydrogen bomb exploded. The actor saw all this physically, and his performance was “contact”. On the glasses, on the windows, in the bumper of the “black funnel”, in a glass of water, the background of the virtual scenery was reflected. It looks incredibly believable. You can’t achieve this with a chroma key

In the next five years, cinema technologies will develop in three directions, says Alexander Uraksin, co-founder of, which created the VeraVoice voice cloning service: “The first direction is speech-to-speech technology for translating actors’ voices into other languages. For example, Tom Cruise in his paintings will speak with his own voice in different languages ​​- Russian, Chinese, so there will be no need for translation and dubbing. The second is the “resurrection” of characters performed by actors who have aged or died. The most notable case of such technology is the return of Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian series. The Star Wars franchise is the most expensive in the world, so the producers will resurrect Leia Organa, Han Solo and others. And finally, the transformation of cinema into interactive media, allowing the viewer to communicate with a character who will answer questions using artificial intelligence. “

All of the above areas of technological development of the film industry require government participation. The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation is ready to support the further development of film production technologies, but does not plan to single it out as a separate area of ​​cinema. The head of the Department of Cinematography of the Ministry of Culture Svetlana Maksimchenko noted that the department is conservative in this matter: “For us, it is not technologies that are important, but stories. As a director I know said, it is difficult to tell a story when the viewer looks in one direction, and when in all directions it is even more difficult. Unfortunately, sometimes films are made for the sake of technology and not for the sake of the story itself. Technology shouldn’t be an end in itself. We will be happy with technology, but it is important for us that the story reaches the viewer.”

Adapted from Popular Mechanics

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