Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies are turning to professional actors to lend emotions to their virtual avatars. With companies like Meta and Character.AI introducing AI avatars that exhibit personalities based on fictional or real individuals, the demand for expressive avatars that can emote realistically within virtual environments has surged.
The role of professional actors
Professional actors play a crucial role in imbuing these avatars with a wide range of emotions that bots cannot replicate on their own. AI company Realeyes recently posted a job opportunity for actors, offering $150 an hour for their expertise. These actors are required to work in a three-camera, green screen studio setup, expressing both verbal and nonverbal emotions based on provided prompts. They may also engage in improvisational scenes, contributing to the avatar’s emotional depth.
Founded in 2007, Realeyes specializes in reading people’s emotional responses to short videos and providing feedback on content effectiveness. Based in London, the company collaborates with over 200 organizations, offering services ranging from evaluating advertising impact to identity fraud reduction. In this context, they have sought the assistance of professional actors to enhance the emotional authenticity of AI avatars.
Controversy surrounding the use of actors
The timing of this initiative is notable, as it coincided with an actors’ strike that began in July. The strike raised concerns among performers about the impact of AI on their job security. The fear of automation replacing human actors is particularly pronounced among background actors. MIT Technology Review reported an incident where actors discovered that their voices, faces, movements, and expressions were being used to train virtual avatars for Meta during a recording session.
In response to these concerns, Max Kalehoff, Realeyes’s Vice President for Growth and Marketing, clarified that their studies have no connection to the actors’ strike. He emphasized that the company primarily focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of advertising for clients, with no intention to replace actors in the entertainment industry. Realeyes’s objective is to gauge audience reactions through their emotional analysis technology.
Protecting actors’ likeness
The job posting by Realeyes includes a bold statement ensuring that actors’ individual likenesses will not be used for any commercial purposes. This reassurance comes amid growing apprehensions, where actors like Tom Hanks have warned about the circulation of fake versions of themselves on the internet. Actors engaging in this work can rest assured that their contributions are dedicated to AI research rather than unauthorized commercial usage.
The collaboration between AI firms and professional actors represents an intriguing convergence of technology and human creativity. While concerns linger about the potential displacement of actors by AI, Realeyes and similar companies maintain their focus on leveraging AI to enhance the emotional resonance of avatars and evaluate advertising effectiveness. As the field of AI continues to evolve, the relationship between actors and technology will undoubtedly remain a topic of interest and debate in the entertainment industry.