May 8, 2023

Seeing Isn’t Believing: The Role of AI in the Future of Entertainment

AI tools like Midjourney and ChatGPT have once again demonstrated the evolution of artificial intelligence in a short amount of time, sparking a wave of new creativity. At least 200 books on Amazon’s Kindle e-book store are tagged as generated by ChatGPT, while in Japan, a publishing house has released the first manga completely drawn by AI. Even the famous author of “One Piece” has reportedly discussed story inspiration with ChatGPT.

Talent is no longer a barrier to creativity, and efficiency has been greatly improved. As AI becomes a driving force for human creativity, the entertainment industry, which is centered around creation and content, is also being empowered to “transcend” through AI.

AI is disrupting our imagination of entertainment

If you are a fan of Tom Cruise and you search for him on Tiktok and click on the account with over 5.2 million followers, DeepTomCruise, you will see a series of interesting videos in which the global superstar is seen having fun at nightclubs and DJ performances, and going on dates with socialite Paris Hilton, among other things. One particular scene where he dances in a bathrobe on a big lawn has attracted nearly 100 million views.

You may be immersed in the fun brought by these videos…until you realize that they are not actually filmed by Tom Cruise, but are created through deepfake technology.

In a venue at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a group of young people are watching the ABBA Voyage concert, dancing to the music and lights. However, the ABBA band on stage is not the current one, but rather the 1979 peak ABBA band recreated through AI technology, allowing them to be “young once again.”

When watching the MV and life Vlog of South Korean influencer Rui on YouTube, it may not be apparent that she is actually a virtual influencer created by AI.

Through AI technology, the limitations on creativity in the entertainment industry have been greatly lifted, and almost any idea, no matter how imaginative or beyond imagination, can be realized.

Real idols + AI: Breaking the boundaries between reality and fantasy

As demonstrated by the examples above, when real idols are combined with AI technology, it can effectively break through many physical limitations and allow for more diverse creativity. In this area, many AI startups play a crucial role as technology providers.

For example, the deepfake version of Tom Cruise mentioned earlier is powered by London-based AI startup Metaphysic. This two-year-old startup has even appeared on America’s Got Talent, using deepfake technology to bring Elvis Presley back to life during a live performance. The high degree of realism in Metaphysic’s videos and live performances, which make it difficult to distinguish between reality and fiction, has attracted the attention of Hollywood production companies. The latest film directed by renowned director Robert Zemeckis features a collaboration with the startup, using deepfake technology to allow actors Tom Hanks and Robin Wright to play themselves at different ages as they travel through time, with the movie set to be released later this year.

Some news commentators have remarked that this collaboration represents the first time that AI technology has become a core element in Hollywood films. Metaphysic CEO Tom Graham also mentioned in a media interview that using existing visual effects technology to change an actor’s age may result in a sense of unnaturalness. By using deepfake technology, however, AI can better understand what an actor would look like at different ages and how they would perform in different situations, thus capturing the actor’s performance more realistically. Moreover, using deepfake technology can effectively reduce visual effects production costs by about 20%.

In January of this year, Metaphysic even announced a collaboration with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the most influential talent agencies in the US entertainment industry, with plans to provide generative AI tools and services to global performers and creators.

The virtual influencer Rui mentioned in another case is created by South Korean AI startup DOB Studio. Unlike Metaphysic, which excels in replicating and altering the faces of real-world celebrities, DOB Studio takes a different approach – using AI to directly generate new facial features.

DOB Studio has revealed in media interviews that Rui’s facial features were created based on big data analysis of a large amount of facial data, and designed according to the preferences of South Koreans. By singing songs, interpreting various videos, and even appearing on programs through an invisible “middleman,” and then combining the AI-generated face during post-production, the virtual influencer Rui was born.

Interestingly, the middleman behind Rui has revealed that she has always dreamed of becoming a celebrity, but felt that her appearance made it difficult to achieve her dream in the highly beauty-conscious South Korean entertainment industry. Therefore, when she learned of this job opportunity, she thought about how many people also try to change their appearance through plastic surgery, and was willing to try using AI face-swapping to achieve her dream. DOB Studio’s model not only opens up a completely different path for the creation of internet celebrities, but also provides another possibility for those who have a dream of becoming a celebrity.

Virtual Idols + AI: A New Way of Entertainment

Apart from the real world, the entertainment industry also exists in the virtual world. South Korea, which has successfully promoted K-POP culture to the world, has also been actively exploring the possible business opportunities of combining virtual idols with pop culture in recent years. For example, the girl group Aespa, with each member accompanied by a virtual avatar, and the boy group Superkind, composed of four real members and one virtual idol, have both successfully attracted attention and gained many supporters.

AI technology has not only created more possibilities for real idols but also opened up new opportunities for virtual idols living in the anime world. With AI’s help, from character design and 3D modeling to voice synthesis and motion capture, more smooth and natural virtual idols can be created to generate more appealing content.

Recently, Kakao Entertainment and game company Metaverse Entertainment launched the girl group MAVE:, which is South Korea’s first fully AI-generated virtual idol group. Its natural expressions and movements have received many praises and achieved good results, with an MV reaching 18.6 million views on YouTube in less than two months. In the future, with the continuous improvement of AI technology, virtual idols may have more opportunities to enter the mainstream market and become a new entertainment experience for most people.

It is worth noting that virtual idols are not only the patent of large companies, and related AI technologies are gradually becoming popular. For example, Taiyaki Studio from San Francisco is committed to providing a scalable solution for VTuber production teams. Through the various modules and tools they provide, creators can use simple equipment such as smartphones to produce relevant content for virtual idols.


The popularity of smartphones and social media has created the creator economy we have today, which has changed the way the entertainment industry distributes content and has provided people with more diverse entertainment choices. In my opinion, the widespread use of AI technology will lead the creator economy into a new stage of prosperity, and the entertainment industry will further subvert our current understanding and develop new experiences that we have never imagined before. I call this the “Creator Economy 2.0 Era”.

In this era, everyone’s creativity has the potential to be realized, and imagination is the only limit. I am excited to see what new and refreshing ideas will emerge in the future, and let us always remind ourselves to maintain an open learning attitude throughout the process!

This article has been contributed to DG Lab.

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