Deepfake Tech Used to Seamlessly Remove Profanities from Movie
Filmmakers used deepfake technology to visually dub the new action-thriller Fall when they were asked to remove the profanities from the film but did not have the budget to reshoot scenes.
Fall is a thriller about two friends who find themselves in danger of plunging from the top of a 2,000-foot-tall radio tower. During a high-intensity scene in the film, the women are left stranded when the ladder breaks from the dilapidated tower and the pair end up cursing multiple times in the sequence.
When Lionsgate wanted to pick up Fall for a U.S. theatrical release, it asked the filmmakers to tone down the number of swear words used in the movie as it would result in an R rating, hindering the box office take for the small-budget motion picture.
The producers of Fall, which had a production budget of about $3 million, could not afford to reshoot all the scenes in which the pair swear repeatedly.
So instead, Scott Mann, who directed and co-wrote the film, turned to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) dubbing technology system developed by London-based Flawless, for which he also serves as co-CEO.
Variety reports that Mann and the Flawless team changed more than 30 swear words throughout the movie in post-production into PG-13-acceptable epithets like “freaking” along with a few other lines of dialogue.
Flawless, founded in 2021, originally designed its TrueSync AI-based system to provide a better dubbing solution for films translated into other languages.
Employing the same principles used to create deepfakes, TrueSync alters the mouth movements of the actors to match the alternate dialogue being spoken — a process the startup calls “vubbing.” Mann realized Flawless’s method could also be used to clean up the swear words in Fall.
“For a movie like this, we can’t reshoot it. We’re not a big tentpole,” says Mann. “We don’t have the resources, we don’t have the time, more than anything else.”
“What really saved this movie and brought it into a wider audience was technology,” he adds.
Reshooting the scenes would have cost millions of dollars and taken several weeks, if not months. According to Variety, the Flawless team did the “neural reshoots” within a much shorter span of two weeks during the final stages of post-production.
Following Mann’s and the Flawless team’s work, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) gave the final cut of Fall a PG-13 rating for “bloody images, intense peril, and strong language.”
Fall opened in theaters in the U.S. last Friday. The film stars Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Currey says the deepfake technology was so impressive that she could not tell which of her scenes in Fall had been redubbed.
“As far as I know, every movement my mouth made in that movie, my mouth made,” she says.