Lucasfilm Hires Deepfake YouTuber Who Improved Luke Skywalker VFX In THE MANDALORIAN

YouTuber "Shamook," whose viral deepfake video improved the VFX de-aging of Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker in the finale of The Mandalorian Season 2, has been hired by Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic.

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As Lucasfilm continues to dive deeper into the history of Star Wars, the need to involve iconic characters from the original trilogy will surely increase. We saw that in the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian when a young, CGI version of Luke Skywalker popped up to save the day and take Grogu away to train him. While Luke's appearance was an incredible and much-welcomed surprise, the VFX used to de-age Mark Hamill left a lot to be desired.

If Lucasfilm plans to continue exploring the period of time between the original and most recent trilogy, then the stories will almost certainly involve bringing back more of these iconic characters. Obviously getting the original actors to return is impossible due to age or other factors, so Lucasfilm has two choices: recast these classic characters with real actors or continue to rely on CGI.

We saw Jon Favreau's preference with The Mandalorian, but there's clearly need for improvement, which is why Lucasfilm has announced the hiring of a popular deefake YouTuber who goes by the name "Shamook." The YouTuber, who created a deepfake that improved the VFX used to de-age Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian, announced that he had joined Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic. It was then confirmed by a Lucasfilm representative to Indiewire.

“[Industrial Light and Magic is] always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona ‘Shamook'. 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 and it’s been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances.”

Shamook also announced his new employment as ILM/Lucasfilm in a comment this month.

“As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilm a few months ago and haven’t had the time to work on any new YouTube content. Now I’ve settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They’ll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart. Enjoy!”

De-aging VFX technology is gaining traction among moviemakers because it opens up a whole new possibility of storytelling. But because the technology is still relatively new, it's not always fully embraced by viewers. In the case of Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian, his appearance tugged on the nostalgic heartstrings; but, the imperfect mannerisms were a bit jarring, distracting from the overall scene. 

You can check out Shamook's improved version of Luke's scene in The Mandalorian below. In the description, he defines deepfakes as "synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness leveraging powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence."

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