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Thursday, June 13, 2024

How AI is transforming Hollywood, and why its at the center of contract negotiations

Hollywood actors could soon be joining writers on the picket lines, as the deadline to reach a new deal with studios is just days away. One of the big issues revolves around artificial intelligence and how it can create performances.

Harrison Ford, at age 80, is now starring as Indiana Jones — both old and young. Audiences could soon see a new performance by James Dean, who died in 1955. Another upcoming film will feature Tom Hanks and Robin Wright as they appeared in Forrest Gump nearly 30 years ago.

The AI company Metaphysic is immortalizing actors through data capture — with many cameras taking images at the same time — which allows performers to appear in future films without ever being on set.

“There is a move now from many people to preserve their likeness and collect a library of the different data sets that in the future could be used to create their performance,” Metaphysic’s CEO Tom Graham said. “I think that this is going to be a core asset for every performer.”

But how that likeness is preserved, who has access to it and who cashes in on it are key concerns of SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents actors.

“We’re not anti-AI. It is okay for performers’ likeness, image, voice to be digitally modeled and captured, provided they know exactly what it’s going to be used for and that there are appropriate safeguards in place to make sure that that data is not made available beyond its intended use,” said SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

Those safeguards don’t currently exist.

“We need to focus heavily on the ethics and how we deploy AI, and so we need to really work hard to move our institutions very, very quickly to be able to accommodate some of these new potential outcomes,” Graham said.

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