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Marc Scarpa of Defiance Media on Deepfakes and Virtual Human Newscasters – Video

Marc Scarpa is the CEO and founder of DeFiance Media. He joined me at the Synthedia 2 event to discuss DeFinance’s experience with virtual human newscasters and how the company came to use two in its broadcasts. He started by contrasting the popular view of deepfake technology as a potential threat and saw the potential upside of synthetic technologies.

I didn’t see [deepfakes] as a threat at all. I saw them as a friend. You are looking at CGI graphics and effects in movies all the time. You can bring back Princess Leia, and now you have Tom Cruise deepfake and Mark Zuckerberg deepfake. Well, that’s a very interesting media play…[when] putting it in a context that can deliver information in a way that is accurate and credible. And hence, we then went on a journey to determine who could solve the first part of the problem, which is the creation of a virtual human so that we could have the world’s first virtual news anchor.

Key Learnings from 1,500 Virtual News Anchor Segments

DeFiance Media’s virtual news anchor Roxanna has completed over 1,500 news segments over the past year. Scarpa said the team learned a number of lessons in that time. For example, “What is most important is you can go and start with a stock character which is something that we did, but ultimately, we chose to create our own. That was a huge shift. Our engagement increased. The resonance with our brand really changed.”

He also mentioned that you need to teach the virtual human how to talk, and it needs to have a personality. “Giving her a little more personality and a life is really critical. If you don’t do that, it is, in essence, a robot on stage reading a teleprompter,” said Scarpa. That personality then shapes how you use the virtual human, in what formats, and for what topics. It also drives the script writing to reflect the virtual human’s personality.

You can see Roxanna delivering a news segment in the video above. We included two clips of her reading the news. Also, you can check out DeFiance Media and see Roxanna in action here.

More Videos on Synthetic Media

You can learn more about synthetic media from other speakers at the Synthedia Conference. You can find those videos in Voicebot’s YouTube channel synthetic media playlist. If you would like to have the top news and analysis about synthetic media sent directly to your inbox each day, sign up for the Synthedia newsletter.

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