Social media influencers – how do they manage to look so good, pretty much all of the time! Don’t you just envy them? Perfect skin, hair, makeup…is that what it takes to become an influencer?
Take any celebrity out there as an example – how is it possible that they look beautiful on their Instagram stories and their Facebook feed is impeccable when at the same time, you can see compromising photos of them taken by paparazzi in any of the popular gossip magazines. You can say it’s just the makeup, but perhaps there is more to it. With social media being so accessible and technologically advanced, anyone at any time can make themself looking beautiful.
How technology can adjust the way we look?
Have you ever heard of selfie enhancing apps? What about face tuning filters? I’m not talking about cosmetic surgery here! The technology surrounding us gives an opportunity to become different, better (or worse) versions of ourselves. At the click of the finger, you can beautify yourself, remove all wrinkles, bags from under the eyes, or enlarge eyes, add on long eyelashes and perfectly symmetrical eyeliner.
Face filters on social media
It all started when Snapchat popularised its face filters. You surely remember the dog ears that you could apply to your face together with long dog tongue which stuck out the moment you put yours out. Since then, there are countless versions of filters that could be applied to your face. We are all guilty of spending too much time playing with it in the moments of boredom.
Nowadays, you can find face filters and augmented reality elements on many social media platforms. Instagram, for instance, introduced face enhancing technology in their stories. You are able to record a story from your bed the moment you wake up, while at the same time looking all glammed up and ready for the day. No need for long hair and makeup routine. You don’t even need to take a shower! Just by adding an appropriate face filter you can create the desired virtual look for yourself.
Many companies already see the marketing potential in it, creating their own, branded versions of face filters. This way they get tons of user-generated content promoting their brand for free. Things like Kylie Cosmetics Instagram face filter, where you can try on the latest lipsticks and makeup kits from Kylie Jenner or simple Disney’s Mickey and Minnie eyers AR filter are fun and playful ways to spread the brand awareness.
Fun Fact: According to medium.com The technology used by Snapchat for facial recognition was bought from a Ukrainian startup Looksery, which created an app that allowed users to change up their facial features live, during video chats or on photos. Back in 2015, Snapchat paid for this technology $150 million dollars, which turned out to be the tech acquisition in Ukrainian history.
Many face filters are fun and playful with obvious AR elements. Others are unbelievably real and almost undeceivable. If you don’t pay attention you might never notice if that pretty face on social media is real, or it has some beautified AR elements and enhancements attached to it.
Developers went as far as creating ‘plastic surgery’ filters. That’s taking it to the next level! It created so much bad publicity that Instagram decided to take down all face filters which actively promoted cosmetic surgeries. They’ve explained that they intend to face filters to be a positive experience for people. It is great that they take some responsibility for what’s happening on their platforms. Think about it, face filters can be used by kids as young as 13. Would you want your kids playing around and thinking about enhancing their chicks or smoothing their skin? That’s no good for anyone’s mental health!
Face enhancing technology in movies
Such technology is well known in the movie industry. It is now possible to enhance, beautify, de-age any actor or actress, without a touch of a needle. You can see the latest examples of it in the Netflix movie ‘The Irishmen’, where Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci were de-aged to match the scenario. This was not just a little facial touch-up. This technology is so advanced, it could bring you decades back in age.
There are countless movies nowadays, where de-aging technology was used. Take the ‘Gemini Man’, where Will Smith’s age was cut by half! The production team, in this case, had to scan his entire face. This allowed them to build a database of facial expressions, which in turn could be matched to data from his previous performances (remember him in ‘Bad Boys’ for example?). Acting to suit the particular technology used in this movie was also very interesting. Imagine putting your best performance in a studio, with a ton of headgear and tracking dots all over your face. Suddenly, remembering your lines seems like an easy job! Frankly, if that would make me 23 again, I’d do it in a heartbeat!
In ‘The Irishmen’ Martin Scorsese had an ambition of shooting the movie just as he would any other. No funny headgear, no overpowering technology. Actors needed to be able to act naturally. With new technologies, special cameras and carefully crafted setup, the entire team managed to shoot this movie in a way, that enabled them to collect all facial details needed to de-age actors in post-production. If you haven’t seen that movie yet, you are definitely missing out! To see what technology can do with a human face, it’s incredible!
Is it deepfake?
If what you see isn’t exactly the reality, is it already a lie? Some would argue, that face enhancing technology enables you to achieve just an adjusted, better version of yourself. Just like the makeup on pretty woman’s face designed to emphasize the beauty she already has. Others would look at such technology and call it a deepfake straight up!
Related article:Deepfake, new scary technology which can make you say things you never did. Should you be afraid?
Philosophically and ethically, this is an interesting discussion. Imagine using face enhancing technology to resurrect actors, so they are able to play in movies long after they gone from this world. Is it correct, or even respectful?
This discussion has many dimensions. Face enhancing technology, as used by masses, could have an implication on users’ mental health. If you only record Instagram stories with face enhancing app, you might eventually get disappointed when looking into not so technologically advanced, good old mirrors on your bathroom wall. Self-esteem might be shuttered, as you constantly compare yourself with your own insta-friendly version. Not to mention comparing your life with beautiful and magical lives of impeccable looking influences on social media.
Related article:How social media really impact your mental health?
Technology is advancing. We are online, on social media, consuming movie productions like there’s no tomorrow. We play with augmented reality, apply face adjusting filters to our faces and immerse ourselves in productions, which are so technologically advanced, that could bring people back from death purely for your entertainment.
It’s worth acknowledging how our world is changing. It can be scary at times, as you no longer can be sure of what you see. It’s definitely very exciting to observe new technology and its ethical implications. Let’s see where the next decade will take us.