Saturday, November 26, 2022

Ukrainian startup Reface partners with Warner Bros. to promote new films

by Daryna AntoniukDecember 19, 2021 6:21 pm
U.S. actors Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss during the shooting of the fourth movie in the Matrix franchise. Ukrainian startup Reface will promote the movie using its deepfake mobile app. (Warner Bros.)

When Ukrainian tech entrepreneur Dima Shvets was a child, he wanted to "get inside a movie" – become an actor or a favorite character.

With the mobile app called Reface, which Shvets and his friends cofounded in 2020, his dream has finally come true.

Reface uses technology called deepfake that allows users to create videos where they replace the faces of celebrities or movie characters with their own.

At first, users turned to Reface for fun but now it will be used for movie promotion. In December, Reface partnered with one of the world's biggest film studios, Warner Bros., to work on a global advertising campaign for its movies, Shvets announced on Dec. 16.

Their first joint promo will be for the upcoming release of "The Matrix: Resurrection" on Dec. 21. With Reface, users can put their likeness over the face of their favorite Matrix characters – Neo, Trinity or Agent Smith. The feature is available for free until Feb. 25.

Warner Bros. is not paying Reface for the promotion, with Ukrainian company doing it for publicity. The contract is good for one year, meaning the two companies could collaborate on upcoming releases such as "The Batman," "Elvis" and "The Flash."

"This partnership is a big achievement," said Oles Petriv, chief technology officer at Reface. Usually, big film studios with decades of history are wary of cutting-edge technology, he said.

Reface has attracted the attention of big names before. Celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Elon Musk have used the Ukraine-founded app.

According to its founders, the app took off because Reface's technology is some of the quickest and most accurate on the market. It is used in the entertainment, film, gaming and advertising industries.

Reface algorithms use machine learning to adjust faces on videos to different lights, colors and expressions within seconds, making the final picture even more realistic.

However, while the deepfake technology can be used for entertainment, it can also be used to create fake news.

To avoid misleading anyone, the company places watermarks on images and videos to demonstrate that they aren’t real. The company is also working on a not-for-profit web tool to detect deepfakes.

Daryna Antoniuk
Daryna Antoniuk
Tech reporter

Daryna Antoniuk is a tech reporter at the Kyiv Independent. She worked in the same role at the Kyiv Post and has focused on Ukrainian startups, investment and the fintech market. Antoniuk previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted and The Record. She graduated from Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv with BA in journalism and communications.

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