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Director Shawn Lowe on ‘Deepfaking’ Cristiano Ronaldo’s Face


How do you get one of the world’s most famous people, the biggest sporting star alive, the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo, into China for a one-day commercial shoot in the middle of a global pandemic?

在全球疫情大流行期间,您如何让世界上最著名的人之一、最具代表性的体育明星、唯一的C罗(Cristiano Ronaldo)进入中国进行为期一天的广告拍摄?

You don’t—you deepfake his face.
你不需要- 你对C罗的面容进行人工智能Deepfake科学技术置换面容。


That’s just what Canadian director Shawn Lowe did for ZujuGP, a football tech-media platform, in a commercial featuring Cristiano Ronaldo leaping over ancient Chinese rooftops in a thrilling Wushu martial arts sequence. Working with production house ID Creations, the stunt they pulled off is a first-of-its-kind, pioneering the use of artificial intelligence technology deepfake in commercial filmmaking in Asia, if not the world.

这正是加拿大籍导演Shawn Lowe为足球科技媒体平台 ZujuGP 所做的,在广告中,C罗 (Cristiano Ronaldo) 在一段惊心动魄的武术序列中跳跃过中国古代屋顶。与制作公司 ID Creations 合作,他们完成的特技是首创,在亚洲乃至世界的商业广告制作中率先使用人工智能Deepfake科学技术

Considering the film’s need for intense post-production work, the choice of a director was a no-brainer. “I’m known in the industry as a bit of a tech nerd ‘slash’ director,” Lowe says, explaining that his roots are indeed in CGI and that he gained expertise in mastering innovative technology for filmmaking over the years. “Whatever tools are at my disposal to tell a good story, I believe in using them.” 

考虑到这部电影需要庞大的后期制作工作,导演的选择是毋庸置疑的。“我在业内被称为科技技术派“斜杠”书呆子的导演,”Lowe 表示他扎根于 CGI,精通于各种创新科技使用在影视制片中。“无论我使用什么工具来讲述一个好故事,我都相信使用它们。”

Even for someone like Lowe, the stakes were high. The brief demanded that most of the background in the film be created with CGI, and the action scenes required intense fight choreography and high-flying wirework. The one-day shoot took place across four different sets in Shanghai, with roughly 30 stunt actors, including two for Cristiano Ronaldo, one for his body movements, and one for facial close-ups.

即使对于像Lowe这样的导演来说,挑战度也相当高。Brief要求影片中的大部分背景都是用 CGI 制作的,动作场景需要激烈的战斗编排和高空吊钢丝作业。为期一天的拍摄在上海进行了四组不同场景的拍摄,大约有 30 名特技演员,其中两名为C罗(Cristiano Ronaldo)的替身,一名为他的身体动作,一名为面部特写。

The biggest challenge was that, since the client couldn’t have the football star in China because of travel restrictions, they wanted to ensure that, whatever trick Lowe used, the result would be ultra-realistic.

最大的挑战是,因旅行限制C罗无法到中国拍摄广告,客户希望确保无论 Lowe 使用什么技巧,都能将C罗的面容置换,这使得无论使用什么科技,结果都将是最接近真实的。

Lowe argues that, no matter how fantastic CGI is for special effects, it is still not ideal for creating human faces. “The skin textures always look unnatural, and you constantly have to figure out a way to hide CGI imperfections in shadows, not to mention close-ups are extremely problematic,” Lowe says. He also reminds us that CGI is highly costly and time-consuming.

Lowe 认为,无论 CGI 用于特效多么出色,它仍然不适合创建人脸。“皮肤质感总是看起来不自然,你必须不断想办法在阴影中隐藏 CGI的 缺陷,更不用说特写镜头是非常成问题的,”Lowe 说,使用CGI 换脸成本高且耗时。

Deepfake, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. “You can have the face brightly lit in any lighting circumstance, and it can come right up to the camera looking completely real. You can also do it much faster and with a smaller team and budget. It’s a total revolution,”Lowe says.

另一方面,Deepfake 是属于另一个境界的科技。“无论是脸部在任何光线环境下或者非常靠近镜头的环境下都会看起来完全真实。你也可以用更小的团队和预算,耗时更少地做到这一点。这是一场颠覆性的进展,”Lowe 说。

As Lowe explains, unlike the entirely artificial process of CGI, deepfake uses a person’s photographs and video footage to learn from them to create the optimal result on top of someone else’s face. Through the magic of deep learning, AI deepfake studies the intricacies of someone’s face and reproduces even the minor anatomic details that we humans cannot consciously perceive. “These are things you cannot spot,” Lowe says. “Most of the time, what looks realistic are the things that you cannot describe.” 

正如 Lowe 解释,与完全人工合成的 CGI 过程不同,Deepfake 使用照片和视频来学习真实的面容,从而在别人的脸上创造出最佳效果。通过深度学习的魔力,AI deepfake 可以研究人脸的复杂性,甚至可以再现我们人类无法有意识感知的细微解剖细节。“这些是你无法发现的,”Lowe 说。“大多数时候,看起来很真实的东西是你无法描述的。”

For this spot, several different AI networks were used to create the deepfake. First, the computer studied Cristiano Ronaldo’s face at every angle and lighting scenario, and it did the same with the facial expressions of the stunt double. After coding the features of the faces, “it decodes and reconstructs one face over the other,” as Lowe puts it. “You also have two extra AI neural networks that combat each other,” he explains. “One is perfecting the image to look like Cristiano as much as possible; the other is trying to detect the flaws. As they fight each other, you end up with an increasingly realistic face over time.”

对于这个广告,使用了几个不同的 AI 人工智能系统,来创建 Deepfake。首先,电脑需要深度的研究C罗与替身面部的各个角度、 光线、还有表情 。在对面部特征进行编码后,“它会解码并重建在外另一个人脸上 ” 正如 Lowe 所说。“你还有两个额外的 人工智能系统相互对抗,”他解释道。“一个是尽可能地完善图像,使其看起来像C罗;另一个是试图发现缺陷。当他们互相争斗时,随着时间的推移,你最终会得到一张相似度越来越逼真的脸。”

The entire process of learning Cristiano Ronaldo’s face took roughly one month to complete. Still, deepfake alone doesn’t do the trick. It only runs from a person’s forehead to the chin. For the other parts, like the shape of the head, the ears, the hair, and even the eyes, it needs to be combined with traditional CGI and compositing tools, a job done by post-production company Green Thumb in this project. This process stretches the time frame to two months, but even so, it’s still shorter and more affordable than using CGI exclusively.

人工智能电脑系统学习C罗的脸的过程大约花了一个月的时间完成。尽管如此,仅凭 Deepfake 并不能解决问题。它只从一个人的额头到下巴。其他部分,如头部、耳朵、头发,甚至眼球细节,都需要结合传统的CGI和合成工具,这CGI和合成是后期团队Green Thumb合作完成的工作。这个过程将时间框架延长到两个月,但即便如此,它仍然比仅使用 CGI 换脸耗时更短且更实惠。

Lowe thinks that deepfake technology is still in its infancy, but he firmly believes that significant improvements will be achieved in the next two or three years. When they come, they’ll affect filmmaking like nothing else before. “We’re opening a huge revolutionary box. Just think about it: celebrities don’t even need to arrive to shoot. They can just license their face and send over the data for us to make the commercial,” he says.

Lowe 认为,Deepfake 技术仍处于起步阶段,但他坚信在未来两三年内将取得重大进展, 当他们到来时,他们将对电影制作产生前所未有的影响。“我们正在创造一个影视制作更高领域的技术水平。想想看:名人甚至不需要到场拍摄。他们只需授权他们的脸并将数据发送给我们制作广告,”他说。

From that standpoint, deepfake is promising to solve the usual logistical issues when dealing with celebrities, such as their minimal availability and the hosting of their entire staff, always in first-class standards, which eats up the budget. It also helps with difficult shooting locations and close-ups during dangerous stunts.

从这个角度来看,Deepfake 可以解决在拍摄时与名人及其团队所有的拍摄时间的规划与后勤挑战,例如可以大幅度的减少必须以一流的标准去接待名人及其团队的所有开销。它还有助于在危险的特技中拍摄困难的拍摄地点和特写镜头。

“Currently, you shoot action scenes from far away and use editing to make the actor seem like he’s doing the performance, but not with deepfake; you’ll have a real shot, and it looks like the actor is right there, riding that motorcycle flying off from a volcano. And you won’t even be able to tell.” Lowe says.

“目前,当在拍摄动作片时, 经常都是用远的镜头拍摄替身, 再剪接进一个名人的脸, 让观众认为是他在做的危险动作镜头。但当你使用Deepfake科学技术时。你会有一个真实的镜头,看起来演员就在那里,骑着摩托车飞跃火山。而且你甚至无法分辨。”Lowe 说。

To him, posthumous licensing is also on the horizon. “Just think of Keanu Reeves. He can license his face, and we can have Matrix one hundred, long after he’s gone,” he says. He also adds that de-aging actors, like what they did with Robert De Niro in The Irishman, might become more common.


When the production team was mulling over different creative ways to get Cristiano Ronaldo to take part realistically in the shoot, Lowe was the one to push for deepfake as a solution. “As far as I know, nobody had done it up to that point. I’m very proud of the entire team that worked on this spot and incredibly grateful to the clients at Mint Media for supporting us, believing in us, and having our backs with a brand new cutting edge technology,” he says.

当制作团队在思考如何让C罗在旅行限制下还能进行正常的拍摄同时, Lowe 是推动 Deepfake 作为解决方案的人。“据我所知,到目前为止,我们是全球首创在广告内实现Deepfake技术。我为整个团队感到骄傲,并且非常感谢客户Mint Media 支持我们,相信我们,并且同心協力推广全新的影视制作科技,”他说。

Lowe is also grateful for Cristiano Ronaldo’s participation and support. The star’s social media sharing alone guaranteed over 10 million views in the first three days. By the end of the first week, the campaign had already reached 30 million views—even the making-off video had over 20 million views in a few days.

Lowe导演也感谢C罗的参与和支持。这位足球巨星的社交媒体分享仅三天的就超过 了1000 万次观看。到第一周结束时,该活动的观看次数已经达到了 3000 万次——即使是幕后制作视频在几天内的观看次数也超过了 2000 万次。


“I think there’s a meaning behind it,” Lowe says, explaining how he thinks their approach on this spot relates well with what Cristiano Ronaldo stands for. “He’s number one in football; the very cutting-edge. In a similar manner, we’re creating this film with cutting-edge technology. And I think his fans appreciate knowing how everything was made,” he says.

Lowe导演说: “这部广告的制作方式是创先并且高科技的科学技术。与世界上唯一且最具有代表性的足球明星C罗合作,这是两个顶尖代表的协作成果。”而且C罗的粉丝也相当开心可以看到C罗如此精彩的广告。

After the success of this campaign, Lowe is turning his attention back to Europe. Later this year, in France, he’ll start shooting his first feature film in partnership with director Ghislain Cabalou. To Liv begins shooting in Autumn 2022. “I can’t say much, but it’s a philosophical film, and it’ll touch people in a very humanistic way. Oh, and there’s also some Deepfake involved—we’ll be de-aging the actor,” he laughs.

在完成了此次获得无数掌声的广告之后,Lowe 导演将在欧洲开始与法国籍导演 Ghislain Cabalou 合作第一部电影。《To Liv》 将于 2022 年秋季开始拍摄。“我不能透露的太多,但这是一部带有很深情感触动的哲学电影,它会以一种非常细腻的方式呈现出人与人的内心感情。” 喔!还有一些 Deepfake 科学技术的植入——我们会在这里实现减龄演员,”他笑着。


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