Flawless, a UK-based AI-entertainment venture that’s developed a new way of dubbing, is expanding Stateside and announced a raft of key industry hires for its new “neural net film lab” in Los Angeles.
Lionsgate veteran Ryan Black will be managing director for the U.S. Adobe’s Jim Rivera joins as chief product officer, and Industrial Light & Magic’s Praveen Ilangovan as software engineer.
Flawless specializes in state-of-the art AI technology for film and entertainment, developing first from an office and science lab in London’s Soho and now in LA where will continue to build up its team of scientists and film production specialists close to major film and TV studios.
Black, at Lionsgate for the last 14 years, was VP of Acquisitions and Development for Grindstone Entertainment Group. He’ll be responsible for building and maintaining business and filmmaker relations for Flawless and overseeing the expansion of the LA operation. Black played an integral role in building Grindstone’s library of over 600 films including Misconduct, Imperium and The Poison Rose. He served as a co and executive producer on films including Maggie and Heist, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert De Niro.
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“When I first saw Flawless’ technology in action, I was immediately blown away by the game changing impact it stands to make in the global film distribution landscape. The company’s founders, Nick and Scott, have been growing and nurturing an incredible team and I’m truly excited to join their journey,” said Black, referring to co-founders and co-CEOs Nick Lynes, a tech and e-commerce veteran, and producer/director Scott Mann (Heist, Final Score, The Tournament).
Flawless’ long-term focus is to facilitate breakthrough visual sciences in the film, with dubbing as its first product. Called TrueSync, it seamlessly translates foreign language films preserving the nuance and emotion of an actor’s performance and of the script as originally written. The technology, a kind of visual effect, uses AI to imperceptibly tweak mouth movements, allowing an actor to stay truer to the original script. The best current dubbing must often tinker with language to find the closest synch with an actor’s mouth movements.
Dubbing has become an increasingly high-profile service and an art as streaming explodes and studios find increasingly success and savings exporting local language films and series across borders. Good dubbing avoids the use of subtitles. Netflix has made a big push to improve its dubbing. And new ventures are popping up. Former WarnerMedia exec Kevin Rielly recently joined the advisory board of Israeli startup DeepDub.
Mann told Deadline he started thinking about the space after seeing some distressing dubs of his 2015 film Heist. I think you go to such extremes to get the nuance of everything right, and small things can have huge implications on storytelling. When things are reworded and re-scripted to fit the mouth movement, to capture synch, it has a detrimental effect.”
The TrueSync process uses voice actors reading from a well translated script that can stay as true as possible to the original since it requires no additional re-tweaks based on the actors mouth movements.
Mann said Flawless is currently working with a group of studios and streamers, building tools for post-houses and hopes to release a first project using the technology by year end.
At for its new team, Rivera brings more than 25 years of industry experience, working with some Silicon Valley companies including Adobe, Salesforce and BEA Systems. He lead Adobe’s largest development effort in the last decade, delivering the Adobe Experience platform, the industry’s first enterprise platform, built ground-up for consumer experience management.
Ilangovan worked as a senior pipeline technical director at Industrial Light and Magic, responsible for designing and developing software tools and applications used in producing high-end visual effects which have complex, technical challenges often requiring time constrained creative solutions. He’s worked on The Dark Knight Rises, Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian.
Before ILM, Ilangovan worked with The Foundry and was one of the core developers of Katana, an industry standard look developer and lighting management tool.
Reps said Flawless has just completed an oversubscribed Series A funding round at a pre-money valuation of $150 million.