VFX pioneer Ed Ulbrich has joined Metaphysic, a leading developer of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies designed to generate photorealistic content.
Titled 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 film production. (Image above: an AI-assisted transformation of an actor into Elvis Presley)
Ulbrich’s career spans over 30 years across the entire VFX industry in film, television and commercial 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 film “Ender’s Game” and spearheaded the groundbreaking “Tupac Shakur Hologram” project at Coachella for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
“The arrival of generative AI has rapidly changed how Hollywood will produce film and television, and Metaphysic has established itself as a trusted partner in navigating this new paradigm in entertainment,” said Metaphysics CEO Thomas Graham. “We are pleased to welcome Ed to Metaphysic to support our efforts and leverage his wealth of experience.”
In a world where human likenesses can be copied and manipulated by AI-generated versions, Graham is an advocate for actors’ rights — a difficult issue in the negotiations that ended the recent SAG-AFTRA attack on the studios. “We help customers copyright the AI version of themselves so they have a legal basis for a takedown if someone does an unauthorized deep fake,” he told Variety when he was on the list of new leaders in 2023.
Ulbrich has collaborated with Hollywood’s top entertainment studios, including Marvel, Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros. and Netflix. He was a senior executive at Deluxe, which he joined after two decades at Oscar-winning VFX studio Digital Domain, founded in 1993 by James Cameron, digital media executive Scott Ross and the late pioneering makeup effects artist Stan Winston.
Among other achievements, Ulbrich was an innovator in the technology of AI-generated facial 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 at a remarkable scale,” Ulbrich said. “To witness legendary filmmakers collaborating with our teams to harness this transformative technology is nothing short of amazing. It’s exciting and an honor to join this unique global collective of visionaries, creatives and technologists.”
Ulbrich’s appointment comes on the heels of Metaphysics’ debut of Metaphysic PRO, a tool that enables any practitioner to build a portfolio of their most valuable digital assets and AI training datasets over time, while providing solutions to the critically important issues of consent , compensation and copyright.
Since 2018, the Metaphysic team has been the driving force behind the mass popularization of photorealistic generative AI content via its @DeepTomCruise channel and appearances on “America’s Got Talent.”