Disney ages or rejuvenates actors with Artificial Intelligence
FRAN is the name of an artificial intelligence developed by Disney to virtually rejuvenate or age actors in person.
To whiten or refresh actors and actresses at will, without additional physical special effects or endless retouching frame by frame. This is exactly the task that FRAN (Facial Re-Aging Network), an artificial intelligence-based image processing system developed by Disney engineers, seems to solve. This process of deceiving the age of the performer is not only displayed on screen, it is almost performed live.
Very fast and efficient
FRAN is powered by a database containing thousands of randomly generated individuals between the ages of 18 and 85. From this "library", Disney's new system can extrapolate on the fly how young or old an actor or actress is. These are not still images that need to be stitched together. FRAN adds or removes wrinkles and age spots at high speed. The process takes, according to Disney, less than five seconds per frame and works whether the face is facing the camera or not. Even in low or no light (see photo below, the "Input" annotation on the left for the untreated photo and the rejuvenated or aged result next to it).
The image thus obtained during the shooting requires only slight retouching in post-production to make the illusion almost perfect. As powerful (and a little scary) as it is, FRAN is not versatile: it cannot age a very young artist, and graying hair is impossible in real life.
FRAN is still a revolution, if you remember the weeks of calculations it took to rejuvenate Sean Young for a short run in "Blade Runner 2049." Or the unconvincing results of the digital rejuvenation of Will Smith in "Twin Man" or of Robert De Niro and his buddies in "The Irishman"?
It was this Martin Scorsese film that unintentionally highlighted the limits of "age retouching", whether it is done live or not. Regardless of the digital processing, an older actor or actress moves differently than when he or she was young. And vice versa. This is probably one of the new frontiers that FRAN and its AI successors will have to address...