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Hollywood wants to replace background actors with AI-gen characters, pay them for only a day

AI Nightmare: Hollywood wants to replace background actors with AI-gen characters, pay them for only a day

Hollywood wants to scan background actors to create AI-generated characters. The studios will hold the rights to these characters in perpetuity and can use them in as many movies as they like, without permission or compensation to the actors

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is officially joining the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on the picket lines, marking the first time this has occurred since 1960. This effectively means that a significant portion of Hollywood is now on strike, causing the world’s most influential film industry to come to a standstill.

The ongoing discussion surrounding the use of AI and its potential impact on the livelihoods of writers and actors has been a central focus ever since the WGA initiated the strike two months ago. The extent to which studio executives, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), sought to exploit this technology is astonishing.

Straight out of a Black Mirror episode
During a recent press conference following SAG’s call for a strike, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the executive director and chief negotiator, painted a grim picture of the situation. Referring to the AMPTP’s groundbreaking AI proposal, Crabtree-Ireland explained that the proposal suggests that background performers should be scanned, paid for one day’s work, and have their image and likeness owned by the company. Furthermore, the studio would have the right to use these scans in perpetuity without any consent or compensation.

This proposal essentially forces human background actors to relinquish their physical appearance, allowing studios to recreate them digitally at their discretion. It presents a dystopian view of the future of the film industry.

“Sneaky,” tweeted entertainment writer Matt Zoller Seitz. “So if an extra becomes a star, they can just make a movie starring the creepy AI copy from years ago?”

Actors have already been scanned
To the Guild, it is crucial to prevent studios from carrying out such practices. In a letter written by the union’s general counsel Jeffrey Bennett in June, SAG-AFTRA emphasizes that the right to digitally replicate a performer’s voice or likeness, for the purpose of significant manipulation or creating new digital performances, must be subject to negotiation. The union rejects the unilateral imposition of contract terms that grant these rights.

Meanwhile, the AMPTP has denied these reports but has not provided direct comments on the proposal by studio executives.

Disney, Netflix and Marvel have already used AI-generated artists
Disney CEO Bob Iger, prior to the strike announcement, mentioned that the industry had successfully negotiated a favourable deal with the Directors Guild and expressed a desire to do the same with the writers and actors.

However, insiders have revealed that studios have already utilized technology to replace background actors with digital avatars in upcoming movies, such as “Captain America: Brave New World” and Netflix’s “The Residence.” Some actors claim that they were not given the choice to opt out of being scanned, as it was a requirement for being hired.

This situation is a worrisome indication of what may lie ahead. It is not just the jobs of writers and editors that are under threat but also the livelihoods of actors.

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