If you saw Bruce Willis in a new series of Russian mobile service commercials, you’d think he has a great grasp on his Russian. However, Bruce Willis does not speak any Russian (that we are aware of), and his boring, mechanical line delivery could be imitated by even the most inept imitation. That is essentially what has occurred as a result of new Deepfake technology.
The advertisements include “Willis” and his Gary Actor stand-in, as well as Russian actor Azamat Musgaliev. According to Wikipedia, MegaFon, the business behind the commercials, is “Russia’s second biggest mobile phone operator and third largest telecom operator.” It has 62.1 million members in Russia alone, indicating that it is extremely popular.
Their method was able to generate a near-perfect Willis replicant to feature opposite Russian comedian Azamat Musagaliev by using “facial creation technology” based on neural network algorithms evaluating “34 thousand pieces of video.” According to MegaFon executives, Bruce Willis was quick to agree to the proposal, which doesn’t come as a surprise considering his notorious laziness in recent years.
MegaFon used this face-generation method to digitally overlay Bruce Willis’ visage above another actor while Willis was securely at home in the United States. According to Russia Beyond, he received an unannounced sum for licensing his face characteristics and exploiting his Die Hard character in the marketing campaign. Experts in the Russian advertising sector believe that this payment might range between $ 1 and $ 2 million.
Vasili Bolshakov, Director for Brand and Marketing Communications at MegaFon, said, “We realized that we can deliver high-quality content without becoming hostages of restrictions the pandemic put on movement around the world. The use of technology allows them to shoot content faster and cheaper compared to when there is an involvement of celebrities on the set. We openly declare the technology we use and do not mislead anyone. On the contrary, we believe that seeing Bruce as from ‘Die Hard’ and ‘The Fifth Element’ in a new role is a great opportunity for all of us”.
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