This post discusses the plot of The Mandalorian.
It’s been more than half a year since the finale of The Mandalorian season two. For some, it was a triumph of storytelling and effects. For others, well, it ended with a big deep fake that we’re not sure if we can spoil yet. So allow this to be your spoiler warning.
At the end of The Mandalorian, a mysterious Jedi named Luke Skywalker (voiced by Mark Hamill) saves the day thanks to some de-aging effects that looked like a sweaty deepfake you’d see on Reddit. It wasn’t pretty, especially after two seasons of some genuinely effective practical effects, like Baby Yoda’s little bento box. Worse still, much like every other computer-generated effect, those effects will look even worse over time. But it was worth it to see Luke Skywalker deus-ex-machina-ing the hell out of some droids.
After the episode aired, and the general consensus was “when does Loki come out,” some YouTubers attempted to best the state-of-the-art technology of Industrial Light and Magic, which produces the visual effects for Star Wars. Within days of the finale’s airing, YouTuber Shamook took it upon themselves to clean up ILM’s effects, smooth over the edges of the de-aged Luke Skywalker, and fit the character’s face properly onto his head. God, the original doesn’t look so hot compared to Shamook’s work, which is probably why the video has nearly two million views to date. And it’s probably why Lucasfilm hired Shamook.
Speaking to IndieWire, Lucasfilm confirmed Shamook’s hiring. “[Industrial Light and Magic is] always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona ‘Shamook,’” a Lucasfilm representative said in a statement to IndieWire. “Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it’s been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances.”
Shamook also announced their hiring in the comments of the video. “As some of you may already know, I joined ILM/Lucasfilm a few months ago and haven’t had the time to work on any new YouTube content,” Shamook wrote. “Now I’ve settled into my job, uploads should start increasing again. They’ll still be slow, but hopefully not months apart.”
A new hope, so to speak, for Lucasfilm, considering more de-aged versions of classic Star Wars characters are probably on the way.