Visual effects artist behind realistic ‘deepfake’ TikTok videos of Tom Cruise warns people to get used to the ‘highly believable’ technology, saying it’s already too late to ‘stop it coming’
- Highly realistic deepfake videos impersonating Tom Cruise went viral on TikTok earlier this year, with Chris Ume, from Belgium, behind the clips
- Experts expressed concerned about how lifelike the technology is at the time
- Ume told ITV’s Lorraine that he wants to ‘raise awareness’ that this type of technology will develop quickly and could fall into the hands of criminals
The man behind deepfake videos of Tom Cruise which continue to circulate on TikTok has warned that we ‘need to be prepared’ for this type of technology becoming part of everyday life in the future.
Chris Ume, a visual effects artist from Belgium, runs the ‘deeptomcruise’ account on the video platform, showing what appears to be the real Tom Cruise in the ‘alarmingly life-like’ clips.
The videos have gathered millions of views, with the account racking up over 700K followers and 2.1M likes – but experts have warned against the dangers of using the technology.
Appearing on Lorraine today, Ume explained that while the videos were created purely to entertain, he does want to ‘raise awareness’ that similar videos will be cropping up in the coming years as more people are able to harness the same technology.
An account dubbed ‘deeptomcruise,’ which shows an actor depicting Tom Cruise using visual effects went viral on TikTok earlier this year. Pictured, one of the videos depicting Cruise performing a magic trick
I love magic!
‘What we did is really difficult, to achieve the results we did’, said Chris.
‘We’re entertaining people but raising awareness and I think that’s a really important part of the project we’re doing.
‘Not for now, but in a few years people might be able to do what we’re doing so we’ll somehow have to prepare for that.’
He went on to comment on how rapidly the technology has evolved, insisting that internet users will have to ‘think twice’ when they see something that ‘doesn’t make sense’.
Chris Ume, a visual effects artist from Belgium, runs the ‘deeptomcruise’ account on TikTok and appeared on Lorraine this morning
Another clip shows Cruise walking through a clothing store where he trips. The deepfake was able to capture the real star’s mannerisms and personality
WHAT IS A DEEPFAKE?
Deepfakes are so named because they are made using deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to create fake videos of a target individual.
They are made by feeding a computer an algorithm, or set of instructions, as well as lots of images and audio of the target person.
The computer program then learns how to mimic the person’s facial expressions, mannerisms, voice and inflections.
With enough video and audio of someone, you can combine a fake video of a person with fake audio and get them to say anything you want.
‘One-and-a-half years ago people hadn’t even heard of deepfakes’, said Chris, ‘So people understand this type of tech is coming and you can’t stop it.
‘So we need to get used to it somehow and we have to make sure we know it’s out there, think twice when we see something that doesn’t make sense.’
The Mission Impossible star has since created his own TikTok account, which has been verified, and Chris insisted he has contacted the actor asking whether he would like the videos taken down.
Chris said: ‘He did make his own TikTok account now, that one is verified, so we know he saw it.
‘We sent him an email and we said if you don’t like what we’re doing we’ll take it offline, we don’t mean any harm in any way, we are just having fun and making silly jokes – but we didn’t receive an answer.’
Chris says that spotting a deepfake is tricky but not impossible, and advised comparing a video you’re suspicious about with one of the real person.
He said: ‘For the Tom Cruise one’s maybe it’s difficult, but actually you have to compare it to the real Tom Cruise, most of our videos you will see this is not Tom Cruise’s real jaw.
‘You have to go frame by frame, if there are certain details that are fading in and fading out, or look at shadows.
‘This raises awareness for detection systems and people who are working on it to make their detection tools better.’
Chris explained to host Lorraine Kelly that while the videos were created purely to entertain, he does want to ‘raise awareness’ that similar videos will be cropping up in the coming years
The series of clips has gathered millions of views on the platform, with the account racking up over 700K followers and 2.1M likes. Pictured, Cruise playing golf in one of the videos
While he wants to raise awareness, Chris says he is also looking for new ‘creative ways’ of using this technology.
‘I mainly use the technique in creative ways’, he said, ‘I’m not just only swapping faces, for me it’s a challenge to find a new creative way of using this [tech].
‘Somehow these videos went viral and I hope people enjoy them as well.’
While the videos have entertained TikTok users, they have sparked concerns among experts in the field.
Sam Gregory, a program director of witness.org, shared his concerns about the Tom Cruise deepfakes via Twitter: ‘Women are already being targeted by deepfakes.’
‘Seeing is no longer believing’ rhetoric undermines real video.’
Rachel Tobac, the CEO of online security company SocialProof, tweeted that the videos proved we have reached a stage of almost ‘undetectable deepfakes.’
‘Deepfakes will impact public trust, provide cover and plausible deniability for criminals/abusers caught on video or audio, and will be (and are) used to manipulate, humiliate and hurt people,’ she said on Twitter, adding they had a ‘real world safety, political etc impact for everyone’.
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