Robin Williams was featured in a recent short film back in one of his most iconic roles, despite having been dead for quite a few years now.
Here's the trailer:
Thankfully, Disney didn’t use AI technology to bring him virtually back from the dead, instead they pieced his voice together from recordings he made when he was alive.
There’s been a lot of debate recently about AI in films.
In fact, it’s part of the reason that the Screen Actors’ Guild went out on strike, fearing that they could one day be replaced by AI, or even portrayed in roles after they are dead.
Thankfully, that’s not what has happened here.
For the short film, called Once Upon a Studio, Disney used old recordings to put Williams - who died in 2014 aged 63 - back into the role, having first approved the whole thing with his family.
The film - celebrating the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney Animation Studios - features 543 characters from Disney’s past, including a couple of favourites that we never expected to hear again.
Even though the Genie only has a few lines, the company is keen to point out that they didn’t use AI or any other special effects, using previous recordings to get the lines.
Producer Yvett Merino told Polygon: “It was actually direct lines from past recordings.
“When we do animated recordings on any feature, there are a number of takes.
“So we were able to find this line that fits so well in our short.”
In the past, Williams’ daughter Zelda has spoken out against AI recreations of her dad, calling them ‘at their worst, a horrendous Frankensteinian monster’.
Disney won’t be using AI any time soon, though.
Producer Brad Simonsen explained: “We are a flat no on [AI] right now,
“Matter of fact, you’re not allowed to use AI in the building.”
Merino continued: “It was so important to us to share our earliest version of the short with Robin’s team.
“So many of us who work here at Disney Animation were inspired by Aladdin and Robin’s performance.
“It meant the world that they said yes to his inclusion in the short - and [it was] so special that Eric Goldberg, who animated Genie for the [original] feature film, did the animation here as well.”
Disney Animation Studios creative director Jennifer Lee - who also directed Frozen - said: “Genie is such an important character to so many of us.”
Co-director Dan Abraham added: “I just think that we couldn’t have made this short without Cinderella.
“We couldn’t have made this short without Stitch.
“We couldn’t have made this short without Robin Hood.
“And we couldn’t have made it without the Genie.
“He’s just such a part of our history, our legacy.”
Once Upon A Studio will be available to stream on Disney+ on 16 October.Featured Image Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/GFM Films