By questioning the dead, the show Hôtel du temps proves that dipfakes can be great.

On Monday 2 May, France aired the first episode of 3 Time Hotel, Thierry Ardison’s new show. Dalida was a guest on this first episode, 35 years after her death. How is this possible? Time Hotel A high-tech product.

Should the dead be spoken of? In this article, we will not try to answer this very philosophical question. Of interest to Numerama is the incredible technical work performed by Thierry Ardison and his team. Time Hotel, France 3 and France TV platforms have been offered a new program from Monday, May 2, 2022. This project, which we have been hearing about for almost three years, is as controversial as it is innovative. Thierry Ardison best explains his idea in the introduction: “After interviewing everyone, I left with another world.”

Inside Time Hotel, Forget the artists we see on all the TV sets. Thierry Ardison, to whom we are already indebted to some of the most modern ideas in French television, has created a format that raises the dead. The program, close to a documentary from a talk show (each episode lasts until 1h40), features a dead personality as a guest, who first spoke to Thierry Ardison. How does it work? This is of interest to us here.

Deepfakes and revival

In the first episode of his show, Thierry Ardison visits the Hotel du Temps (which is actually the Hotel Mরreis in Paris). In this hotel, time does not work normally. The music returns a scary feeling, as if we were in a haunted hotel. In the elevator, when Thierry Ardison leaves to meet his first guest, he suddenly becomes small. This is usually the first use of the technology reserved for movies on TV: such as Luke Skywalker MandalarianThierry Ardison resumed his small appearance, those years Everyone talks about it.

Is the revived Thierry Ardison successful? Unusually, we see more lies in the young version of Thierry Ardison than in his guest, who is certainly not there. He has a video game effect on his face, but very quickly you will get used to it.

Once at the hotel, Thierry Ardison joined his first guest in his room. This is where we are surprised for the first time: there is Dalida. Or, at least, someone who looks like Dalidar. To our great surprise, the DipFac does not crash once at 1h40. It really sounds like the singer, the rendering is spectacular. The only time Maya doesn’t really work: is when Dalida cries twice. The eyes suddenly turn red and it seems that tears have been added to the post production. It doesn’t work very well, but it’s not so important. For 1 hour 40 minutes, we took part in an interview with Thierry Ardison’s Dalida, with the codes of modern television that he did not yet know.

Dalida at the Hotel du Temps. // Source: France3 screenshot

How does it work? Explained by a text at the very beginning of the episode, all because of the work of an “artificial intelligence”. For the first time in a TV show (anywhere in the world, as far as we know), a production team teamed up with a special company (McGuff, here) to analyze hundreds of Dalidar images so that a computer could be taught to reproduce its expressions (called deep learning).

Then its productionTime Hotel Hired an actress who shared many features with Dalida, Julie Chevalier. Thierry Ardison interviews her, and the computer then takes care of putting Dalida’s face with the right expression on Julie’s face. The level of accuracy is impressive. We are particularly surprised by the side shots, where Dalida is also successful. In augmented reality we do not see the modified effect that we see in filters.

In Hôtel du temps credits, the real faces of our actors are shown.  // Source: Capture France3
In Hôtel du temps credits, the real faces of our actors are shown. // Source: Capture France3

In the first episodeTime Hotel, Dalida is not the only dead person to be interviewed. On several occasions, celebrities who are no longer on Earth, who have the truth of meeting Dalida in their lives, appear on the hologram to chat with the singer, which is a kind of facetime of the future. Each time, the same deepfeck mechanism is used. However, every time, we are disappointed by the rendering. Only Dalida was really successful in this first episode (and probably Jean Gabin, who went to the bar to chat with Thierry Ardison, Teasing The next episode), no doubt because Thierry Ardison’s team treated their faces with care. Claude François, for example, gave the impression of being a wax doll whose lips did not move at the right time.

Several times the dead came to talk to Dalida.  The rendering was average.  // Source: Capture France3
Several times the dead came to talk to Dalida. The rendering was average. // Source: Capture France3

In the end, the technical process is used Time Hotel It is as innovative as successful. We were worried that this show would be awkward, we thought it was extremely interesting.

Voice, the weak point of the Hotel du Tempe

However, to achieve the illusion, Time Hotel Just a face cannot be replicated. Surprisingly, the weak point of the show is, in our opinion, the voice. Thierry Ardison explained on the show We are alive By Léa Salamé and Laurent Ruquier, different methods are used. Sometimes, Time Hotel Using simulation. With Dalida, it’s the technology behind the singer’s words again. Ircam, like a somewhat deep duplicate, changes an actress’ voice to apply a “Dalida” filter. The rendering is not bad, but the microphones are not the same today as before, we can hear a slight change. With Claude François, perhaps the worst character of this episode, it’s even worse. We think the interview is a lie.

When Dalida cries, her eyes suddenly turn red.  It doesn't seem normal.  // Source: Capture France3
When Dalida cries, her eyes suddenly turn red. It doesn’t seem normal. // Source: Capture France3

What is the value of the first episode?

As we explained to you in the introduction to this article, we do not want to argue with the ethics of Thierry Ardison’s show. Should we, yes or no, interrogate the dead? Others will answer better than us.

As a visitor, the question we want to answer is: “Did we have a good time?” The answer is yes, but we have yet to find it Time Hotel A little too long. The documentary format is interesting. However, 1h40 doesn’t pass fast enough, while the breaths placed in the middle lack sophistication compared to the rest of the show. We were also somewhat embarrassed for certain moments, such as when Thierry Ardison insisted that Dalida slept with Allen Dylan, as if he were a real person who could speak with his mouth. That being said, this misfortune has also created the success and reputation of the organizers. Dalida reminds him on several occasions: “You always have so much cash theory”As if the host is congratulating himself.

Here, everything is wrong.  Thierry Ardison resurrected.  Dalida is a deep imitation.  // Source: Capture France3
Here, everything is wrong. Thierry Ardison resurrected. Dalida is a deep imitation. // Source: Capture France3

If Dalida is an exciting figure, we want to see more historical figures Time Hotel, Such as Napoleon, Vercingetorix, Louis XIV or, why not, famous inventors. This isn’t really the direction taken by Ardison, who, for the moment, seems to want to interview the stars he found on his show. Most of the sentences are taken from real interviews, but more often than not, as he tells Dalida to talk about his suicide, Thierry Ardison improvises. From the moment he gave himself this freedom, why not tell the story of a more legendary personality?

Incidentally, we are not surprised that Ardison allowed himself some deviations from this. Time Hotel. This may seem offensive at first, but biopics and documentaries regularly do the same thing. What changes here is the resemblance to the person whose story is being told: You have to see Time Hotel Be aware of this strange situation.

Why deepfakes this use is promising

With Time Hotel, Thierry Ardison has proved to us that a dipfeck is not just a terrifying process aimed at manipulating political discourse or putting celebrities in pornographic images. What he defined as “Deep fake first political use” True in our opinion. Time Hotel The first-person documentary recreates, embodying memory in human form. The risk is obviously the same as any fake picture, some people may think they are real pictures. But in a historical context, is it serious? If Emanuel Macron falsely declares war, it is less necessary.

In an interview with France 2, Thierry Ardison gave another example of the potential use of his technology, especially in national education for children to tell his story to Napoleon. While some may find it scary, we find it promising. Deepfeck, if used by the right people, can have a fantastic educational quality. We can’t wait to see the restTime Hotel And, why not, take part in a shooting. For once, France is new!

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