MoustacheGate 2018 just got another twist to the story. If you aren’t familiar with the story - here’s some background. British actor Henry Cavill is playing Superman in the latest Justice League film. After production finished, the sought-after actor began filming for Mission: Impossible 6, a film which required him to grow a rather large mustache. All good so far. But the Justice League film required some re-shooting of Cavill’s scenes - and here lies the problem. What to do with the dashing soup strainer?
You’d think ordinarily a packet of Gillette's and a bar of soap would do the trick, however, Cavill was banned from clipping his face by his contractual agreement with the Mission Impossible studio, Paramount. So the Justice League retakes got done with the mustache in place. It was then edited off Cavill's top lip using CGI in post-production. The total cost of the reshooting reportedly cost close to $25 million.
For that amount of money you’d assume there’d be no problem. However, it seems the expensive CGI was no match for Cavill’s lip tickler and the results are disastrous, the weird editing has made Cavill's face look like a cartoon superhero and in some shot's it almost looks like he has two sets of lips.
$500 computer did a better job than Hollywood
To add further insult to Warner Bros., DeepFakes YouTube account has released a video showing off the results of free software used on a $500 computer that does a much better job of mustache removal.
The "deepfake" software allows a user to convincingly swap faces within videos. For example, the face of one person can be added to the body of another person in a completely different video. The software grew famous due to its use in creating celebrity porn videos, where the faces of celebrities were overlaid onto the bodies of porn actors.
In the case of Henry Cavill’s mustache, the software user describes their process saying, “While deepfaking usually involves swapping two faces (see our Nicolas Cage post for an example), I instead trained the computer model on two different version, mustached and shaven, of the same face. The model did a decent job of removing Cavill’s mustache, at least as cleanly as the average rushed morning shaving session. Due to the inflexibility of the current blending functions in the deep faking software, I saved the shaved images without any blurring or blending functions. I then masked the shaved mouths and combined them with the original clips in video editing software.”
The clever video editor also tries a reverse edit, adding a mustache to a clean shave Cavill instead. This isn’t quite as smooth but as the author points out that is just because there are ‘more diverse images of Henry Cavill without his mustache.’ It is a relief for many that DeepFakes is finally being used for something other than revenge porn. It could be good news for Hollywood studios too who could avoid the embarrassing mistakes at a fraction of the price.