VFX pioneer Ed Ulbrich has boarded Metaphysic, a leading developer of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies designed to generate photorealistic content.
Carrying the title chief content officer and EVP of production, Ulbrich will oversee the generative AI company’s production pipeline and operations while developing new ways to apply AI to moviemaking. (Pictured above: an AI-aided transformation of an actor into Elvis Presley)
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Ulbrich’s career spans 30 years across the entire VFX industry in film, TV and advertising production. Among his credits: “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity Wars,” “Suicide Squad,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Titanic.” He also produced the epic sci-fi movie “Ender’s Game” and spearheaded the groundbreaking “Tupac Shakur Hologram” project at Coachella for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
“The advent of generative AI has rapidly transformed how Hollywood will produce films and television, and Metaphysic has established itself as a trusted partner in navigating this new paradigm in entertainment,” said Metaphysic CEO Thomas Graham. “We are thrilled to welcome Ed to Metaphysic to support our efforts and tap into his wealth of experience .”
In a world where human likenesses can be copied and manipulated by AI-generated versions, Graham is an advocate of actor rights – a thorny issue in the negotiations that ended the recent SAG-AFTRA strike against the studios. “We help clients to copyright the AI version of themselves so they have a legal basis for a take-down if someone makes an unauthorized deep fake,” he told Variety when he was featured in the 2023 New Leaders list.
Ulbrich has collaborated with Hollywood’s top entertainment studios, including Marvel, Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros. and Netflix. He was a top executive at Deluxe, which he joined following two decades at Academy Award-winning VFX studio Digital Domain, co-founded in 1993 by James Cameron, digital media executive Scott Ross and the late pioneering makeup effects creator Stan Winston.
Among other accomplishments, Ulbrich was an innovator in the technology of AI-generated face replacements and de-aging, a process that allows actors to star in a story that spans generations.
“Metaphysic is expanding creative horizons for filmmakers, artists, studios, and brands in ways previously unimaginable, and it’s doing so on a remarkable scale,” said Ulbrich. “Witnessing legendary filmmakers collaborate with our teams to leverage this transformative technology is nothing short of astounding. It’s exciting and an honor to join this exceptional global collective of visionaries, creatives, and technologists.”
Ulbrich’s appointment comes on the heels of Metaphysic’s debut of Metaphysic PRO, a tool that allows any performer to build a portfolio of their most valuable digital assets and AI training datasets over time, while also providing solutions for the critically important issues of consent, compensation and copyright.
Since 2018, the Metaphysic team has been the driving force behind the mass popularization of photoreal generative AI content via its @DeepTomCruise channel and performances on “America’s Got Talent.”