Summer 2022

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Page 47 of 73

Scene Around Entertainment in the Age of I magine waking up to find you are the face of a new advertising campaign — and it's a product you don't want to be associated with. That was played for laughs on an episode of Friends, when Joey did some modeling and then, unbeknownst to him, ended up the face of an STD campaign. As technology has evolved, artificial intelligence-powered software has made it possible to create realistic audiovisual, video and audio content known as "deepfakes." It makes the above scenario not only possible, but a real threat to those who sign broadly written non-union contracts that allow for unfettered use of a performer's image or voice. In 2018, SAG-AFTRA magazine reported on the growth of digital replicas' threats and opportunities. At that time, it was still a relatively niche technology, but in the last few years it has gone mainstream. Nonconsensual deepfakes remain a problem — one the union remains vigilant about — but the underlying technology has many legitimate uses that can provide exciting new opportunities for members. AI-Generated Content Is Growing In recent years, there has been an explosion in the number of artificial intelligence, or "AI," content technologies, and the quality of AI-generated content has improved exponentially. AI tech has been used in large- and small-budget entertainment projects to virtually age and de-age characters in a way that is cleaner, cheaper and more believable than traditional visual effects, and without countless hours in the makeup chair. AI can simplify performance capture, potentially eliminating the need for capture suits and head rigs altogether. It can even be used to enhance the work performed by stunt performers, which can provide safety benefits. In dubbing and ADR, AI technologies can help match an actor's mouth and facial movements to the dialogue they are speaking. It can also be used to dub the films themselves. In the context of projects originally produced under SAG-AFTRA agreements, it could open new revenue opportunities by providing members an opportunity to negotiate for their voices to be used in the foreign-language release. On the other hand, distributors of foreign content who would otherwise hire SAG-AFTRA members to do dubbing work might find it preferable to use AI-generated audio of the original actors. Although this has not yet happened on a widespread scale, there are companies proposing these business models as the technology improves, so the union is monitoring this closely. Outside entertainment, AI-generated audio can be used in digital assistant devices, customer service, speech assistance and countless other applications, opening new areas of work for professional voice performers. AI technologies have brought historic figures back to "life" in education and museum settings, typically with the help of an actor who provides the performance capture that animates the digital person. This field is full of exciting innovations, and a lot of performers are eager to work in these new areas and potentially generate new income through their AI voice or avatar, but it's important to understand both the technology and the pros and cons of working with it. "Technological innovations have historically provided incredible new 44 SAG-AFTRA | Summer 2022 |

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