The first thing they teach you in any on-camera acting course is that there is no such thing as a camera. I repeat: do not look at the camera. This law, although even experienced performers find it hard to follow (and it causes them to have to repeat more takes than they should on set), is something that has to be complied with no matter what. Rarely, unless the actor breaks the fourth wall like Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver, will you see a character stare at the camera.
Now, however, you can make all your favorite actors look at you thanks to an Artificial Intelligence. Along with the huge wave of AI applications that can do literally everything (from producing music to writing books to developing video games) several have emerged with a rather… interesting function.
Some video call apps such as Nvidia Broadcast, Facetime or Microsoft Teams have a function to make your eyes look directly into the camera. The reason? In video calls, due to management issues (you still have to look at the computer screen instead of the camera) you can’t stare at the other people. So these tools simply use this AI to do it.
But what happens when we employ this AI to make actors look directly into the viewer’s eyes? VFX specialist Daniel Hashimoto, known for his Action Movie Kids channel on YouTube, has demonstrated what happens in a series of rather amusing (and creepy) Twitts.
“From a technical perspective, this technology is amazing. The tracking is real-time and the combination of lights and colors is impressive,” Hashimoto explains for The Verge. “I even found that the effect animates in and out, and respects the direction of a person’s head, so it corrects the eyes when they look away from the screen, but respects if a person is clearly turning their head and looking at something else. I have no doubt that all video conferencing tools will have some version of this before long.”
Undoubtedly, it is a breakthrough that, beyond jokes, will find its usefulness in the near future.