When Bill Hader morphed into Tom Cruise, courtesy deepfake

If think you are seeing Tom Cruise, you are wrong. It's Bill Hader.  

The current viral sensation on the internet is a rather creepy video of Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader, whose face morphs into that of actors Tom Cruise and Seth Rogen even as he speaks.

The video was published barely two weeks ago, but has garnered nearly 4.2 million views during that time, not to mention clips of the morphed video floating around on Twitter, Reddit and other social media sites.


Various morphed videos of actors exist, but why did this one go viral in particular?

In the video, Hader recounts an incident in which he meets Cruise and Rogen, and every time he does an impression either of the two, Hader’s face subtly shifts into theirs. The shift is smooth but the impact is so jarring that you can’t help but wonder what sorcery this is.

Fortunately, the internet has an answer. Unfortunately, it might not be an answer you’d like.

The Bill Hader video is an example of ‘DeepFake’, form of editing videos that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning.

According to the Associated Press, deepfakes are made by feeding a computer an algorithm, or set of instructions, and lots of images and audio of a certain person. “The computer program learns how to mimic the person’s facial expressions, mannerisms, voice and inflections. If you have enough video and audio of someone, you can combine a fake video of the person with a fake audio and get them to say anything you want,” the news agency writes.

This is not the first time deepfakes such as this one have gone viral. Earlier this year, another couple of Bill Hader videos became popular as well, this time with the actor doing impressions of Al Pacino and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Pacino video has 4.2 million views, and the Schwarzenegger video has 8.3 million views.


These videos were all released by the same YouTube channel, Ctrl Shift Face.

The channel’s owner, and the creator of these videos, told The Guardian that “unsettling face-swapping videos are an attempt to raise awareness in the age of fake news and footage.”

The YouTube channel also has deepfake videos of Elon Musk in footage from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bruce Lee in place of Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, and more.

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2020 8:55:10 AM |

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