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From Deepfakes to CGI: 8 AI Startups That Are Reshaping Hollywood

A burgeoning wave of startups armed with cutting-edge AI tools is attracting millions in funding as they collaborate with industry giants.
How AI helped in the Creation of Shadow and Bones, 21 Jump street and Darth Vader | Getty Images
How AI helped in the Creation of Shadow and Bones, 21 Jump street and Darth Vader | Getty Images


AI-Startup Collabs With Hollywood Set to Become a Formidable Force

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Tara Winstead
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Tara Winstead

In the dynamic entertainment world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making waves as a transformative force. A burgeoning wave of startups armed with cutting-edge AI tools is reshaping the way Hollywood creates content. These visionary companies are not only catching the attention of major Hollywood studios and savvy venture capitalists but also securing substantial investments. Today, we'll introduce you to eight innovative startups that are reshaping the entertainment landscape through collaborations with industry giants such as Netflix, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and others.

1. Deep Voodoo

Kendrick Lamar | Getty Images
Kendrick Lamar used the face-swapping abilities of Deep Voodoo in his video | Getty Images

Deep Voodoo, founded by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, evolved from their company, Park County. Initially focused on deepfake tech for a feature film in early 2020, they shifted gears during the pandemic. In December, they secured a game-changing $20 million investment led by Connect Ventures, a collaboration between CAA and VC firm NEA. They showcased their face-swapping abilities with a Kendrick Lamar video, replacing his face with icons like O.J. Simpson and Kobe Bryant. This funding will drive forward their deepfake technology, visual effects services, and synthetic media projects.

2. Deepdub

Former HBO Max executive Kevin Reilly | Getty Images
Former HBO Max executive Kevin Reilly, one of the investors of Deepdub | Getty Images

Deepdub, based in Tel Aviv, is making significant strides in leveraging generative AI for dubbing foreign-language content. In a Series A funding round led by Insight Partners, they secured $20 million, former HBO Max executive Kevin Reilly and former executives from Fox and Endemol Shine, Emiliano Calemzuk, are counted among the angel investors, both actively contributing to the company's advisory board, bringing their total funding to $26 million. Notably, Deepdub achieved a milestone by becoming the first company to dub an entire feature film into Latin American Spanish using AI. They've also formed a partnership with to dub foreign TV shows into English. While working closely with undisclosed Hollywood studios, Deepdub is actively developing a platform to facilitate content localization for content creators and corporations.

3. DGene

Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw in a scene from the film 'X-Men: First Class', 2011 | Getty Images
Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw in a scene from the film 'X-Men: First Class', 2011 | Getty Images

Shanghai-based company DGene is at the forefront of revolutionizing production and entertainment through the power of AI. With a significant $20 million investment in a Series A round led by Alibaba, the company expanded its operations to the U.S. in 2021, led by CTO Jason Yang, an MIT-trained computer scientist, and SVP Helena Packer, an accomplished VFX artist known for her work on films like "X2," "21 Jump Street," and "Charlie Wilson’s War". DGene's cutting-edge facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, employs AI to craft holograms for AR, VR, and holographic displays. They've also collaborated with industry veteran producer Jeff Apple. Additionally, DGene provides AI-driven restoration tools, breathing new life into classic films and TV shows and making them accessible on streaming platforms.

4. MARZ (Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies)

Netflix adaptation of
Netflix adaptation of "Shadow and Bone" | Getty Images

Founded in 2018, Toronto-based MARZ (Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies) has significantly contributed to the world of visual effects (VFX). Notably, they worked on Marvel's "WandaVision" and the Netflix adaptation of "Shadow and Bone." With a Series A funding of approximately $5 million in 2021 led by Round13 Capital and featuring participation from Rhino Ventures and Harlo Equity Partners, MARZ was set to complete beta testing of Vanity AI, its first AI-based VFX tool by mid-2023. Furthermore, the company is addressing the issue of poorly synchronized dubbing, a critical aspect for international audiences, which COO Matt Panousis believes will facilitate global expansion for media companies.

5. Metaphysic

Robert Zemeckis | Getty Images
Robert Zemeckis will be using Metaphysic for his new upcoming movie 'Here' | Getty Images

London-based AI startup Metaphysic, renowned for its viral Tom Cruise deepfakes, secured $7.5 million in January 2022 from investors like Section 32, 8VC, TO Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, and Logan Paul. Teaming up with talent agency CAA, Metaphysic is developing generative AI tools, notably aiding de-aging effects for the upcoming Robert Zemeckis film "Here." CEO Thomas Graham highlights how Metaphysic's AI can significantly reduce special effects costs, making them up to three times more cost-effective compared to traditional methods. This innovation promises to revolutionize the industry by marrying sophistication with cost-efficiency.

6. Respeecher

Darth Vader from Star Wars | Getty Images
Respeecher de-aged James Earl Jones' voice for Darth Vader in "Obi-Wan Kenobi"| Getty Images

Respeecher, a Ukrainian startup established in 2018, has garnered recognition for its groundbreaking work in using AI to resurrect the voices of iconic actors. Notably, they de-aged James Earl Jones' voice for Darth Vader in "Obi-Wan Kenobi" and revived Luke Skywalker's voice in "The Book of Boba Fett" in collaboration with Lucasfilm. This innovative team also recreated Richard Nixon's voice for the Emmy-winning documentary "Event of Moon Disaster." With $3 million in funding from investors like ff Venture Capital and Acrobator Ventures, Respeecher is paving the way in voice cloning technology.

7. Runway

Everything Everywhere All At Once | Getty Images
Everything Everywhere All At Once | Getty Images

Runway is a video editing software suite embraced by creatives in entertainment, advertising, and media. It empowers users to perform diverse tasks like object replacement and color adjustment through text input. Renowned studios like Harbor Picture Company and The Mill utilize Runway's tools. Notably, it played a role in editing the Oscar-nominated film "Everything Everywhere All At Once." With a total funding of $96 million, including a $50 million Series C in December, Runway is on a mission to democratize content creation. Their latest offering, Gen-1 enables users to craft new videos using words and images, fostering accessibility in creative endeavors.

8. Wonder Dynamics

Co-founded of Wonder Dynamics Tye Sheridan
Co-founded of Wonder Dynamics Tye Sheridan | Getty Images

Co-founded by Tye Sheridan and VFX expert Nikola Todorovic, Wonder Dynamics secured $9 million in Series A funding in December 2021, backed by Epic Games and Samsung. They aim to democratize filmmaking with AI and VFX, launching Wonder Studio, a web-based AI platform for creating CGI-powered films. Currently, in beta, it's already being utilized by the Russo Brothers in their upcoming project "Electric State," featuring Millie Bobby Brown and Chris Pratt. Their mission is to remove financial barriers and make sci-fi filmmaking accessible to all.