Coronavirus restrictions make it harder and more expensive to shoot videos. So some companies are turning to synthetic media instead.
This month, advertising giant WPP will send unusual corporate training videos to tens of thousands of employees worldwide. A presenter will speak in the recipient’s language and address them by name, while explaining some basic concepts in artificial intelligence. The videos themselves will be powerful demonstrations of what AI can do: The face, and the words it speaks, will be synthesized by software.
WPP doesn’t bill them as such, but its synthetic training videos might be called deepfakes, a loose term applied to images or videos generated using AI that look real. Although best known as tools of harassment, porn, or duplicity, image-generating AI is now being used by major corporations for such anodyne purposes as corporate training.
WPP’s unreal training videos, made with technology from London startup Synthesia, aren’t perfect. WPP chief technology officer Stephan Pretorius says the prosody of the presenters’ delivery can be off, the most jarring flaw in an early cut shown to WIRED that was visually smooth. But the ability to personalize and localize video to many individuals makes for more compelling footage than the usual corporate fare, he says. “The technology is getting very good very quickly,” Pretorius says.
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