• Several Tom Cruise deepfakes have been circulating on TikTok recently.

  • Chris Umé, the special effects specialist behind these creations, answered

    20 Minutes'



  • He explains to us how he arrived at such a result, and how this can lead to awareness of this technology.

Ultra-realistic fake videos of Tom Cruise playing golf or doing a magic trick ignited TikTok a few days ago.

These “deepfakes” (video or audio recording that can make anyone say anything and everything using deep learning), broadcast on the DeepTomCruise account, were made by VFX artist Chris Umé.

He returns for

20 Minutes

on the technology behind these bluffing videos and his collaboration with actor Miles Fisher, imitator of Tom Cruise.

Videos which, if they portend a worrying future for fake news, are only art here.

Can you say more about the “face swap” technique you used for Tom Cruise's deepfakes?

To perform a deepfake, you need to recover a bunch of data, videos, photos of a person.

Here I searched for the best videos I could find of Tom Cruise.

It took me a long time to put them together.

You have to cover all angles: left, right, above, below.

Then you take the video that you want to put Tom Cruise's face on.

And you tell the computer to put the star's face instead of the person's face.

If she smiles, the machine will learn how to make Tom Cruise smile.

And you'd think you really saw it.

Would it have been possible to create this deepfake without actor Miles Fisher?

It's very complicated to do it without the help of an actor.

As you can see in the video, Miles Fisher is very talented.

He knows how to smile like Tom Cruise.

He knows how he talks, he knows everything about Tom Cruise.

He is one of the best Hollywood actor's impersonators in the world.

And he looks like him, he has the same kind of face, the same hair.

This is what makes when you watch the deepfake you think to yourself, “what's going on?


Would it have been possible to clone Tom Cruise's voice from scratch?

In our video, we used the voice of the actor.

He doesn't have the same voice as Tom Cruise at all, but that didn't bother us because it was for the joke.

There are artificial intelligence tools that make it possible to create a voice.

They are not perfect, it still sounds a bit wrong, but they evolve very quickly.

In your videos, Tom Cruise looks younger.

Did you use old photos or videos of him?

Miles Fisher is 37 and Tom Cruise 58.

The artificial intelligence model is trained to mix the actor who plays in the video and Tom Cruise.

So the deepfake shows a younger Tom Cruise than today.

The data I used is from 2010 to 2020. He looks younger because Miles Fisher is younger.

How did you come up with the idea of ​​the magic trick or golf?

While chatting with Miles Fisher, we quickly got the idea to do something silly.

Everyone sees Tom Cruise as a celebrity, he's always been in Hollywood, no one imagines him normal.

We were like, 'let's do something really silly, something we could do at home, like a magic trick'.

Like at a family celebration where your uncle would come and show you a trick.

We just thought it would be funny.

Did you use deep learning software available online or did you create your own technology to make these videos?

I used the DeepFaceLab software, available online, to train the model.

Then I used my own techniques to improve the image and achieve the best possible result.

I spent about 24 hours of pure post-production on each of the videos separately.

It is not easy to achieve this level of quality just with software.

Have you used any tools developed in your work with Deep Voodoo Studio, started by the creators of "South Park", Trey Parker and Matt Stone?

I do not use Deep Voodoo Studio tools for my personal projects, it is not allowed.

But at Deep Voodoo Studio, they've been working on deepfakes for a year, long before Hollywood realized the potential of this technology.

They are very advanced in the competition.

It is fascinating to work with them, I am very proud of it.

What do you think of the future of deepfakes and the danger they represent in the dissemination of fake news?

I would first like to point out that Tom Cruise's video is very difficult to reproduce.

You need a professional actor, here Miles Fisher.

You need a deepfake artist like me who specializes in special effects with sophisticated equipment.

If you combine the two, you have a mini Hollywood studio.

It's very complicated to do it again at home.

I sincerely believe that the law must regulate these technologies.

There will always be people out there to use them maliciously and we need to be concerned about that.

This is true for all technologies.

I don't believe in banning deepfakes because there will always be creative ways to use them.

We must think about a detection system, label them, perhaps.

I think journalists have an important role to play in confirming sources, saying that something is true.

Twenty years ago, when Photoshop came along, people didn't realize that you could edit images.

Today everyone knows it.

If my work raises awareness through these videos, it makes me happy.

But I am a simple artist.

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