Chrissy Teigen Swapped Her Face With John Legend's and We Can't Unsee It

Elena Nicolaou
·6 mins read

From Oprah Magazine

  • Chrissy Teigen recently appeared alongside her husband, John Legend, in a romantic music video for his song "Wild."

  • She used the popular Reface app to swap her and Legend's faces in the video, and the results are unforgettable.

  • Here's how to make a video with the Reface app yourself.

Do you ever wonder what it might be like to be someone else? Now, thanks to technology, it's possible—kind of. A popular app called Reface, which has been downloaded over 27 million times across 100 countries, allows users to impose their own faces on celebrities'. Translation? You can be Beyoncé.

Chrissy Teigen, for one, can't get enough. The Cravings authors demonstrated the art of the "face swap" in an unforgettable Twitter video. Once you see it, you can't unsee it.

But first, let's rewind. Last week, Teigen recently appeared alongside her husband, Legend, in a music video for his song "Wild." The ludicrously romantic video singlehandedly reinvented our definition of the word "paradise." It's not just the untouched beaches, or the jungles, or the well-placed galloping stallion—it's Teigen and Legend's undeniable connection. Plus, they announced they're expecting a third child at the end of the video!

Which brings us to the version of "Wild" that Teigen posted on her Twitter. In this version, made with the Reface app, the couple's faces are swapped, and the romance found in the original version is completely subverted.

Now, "Wild" is uncanny. It's strange. Frankly, it's Twilight Zone-worthy—and we can't stop watching.

"I'm absolutely consumed with the Reface app," Teigen wrote in her caption. She's not alone. The Reface app, available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play stores, has launched a veritable craze.

After downloading the app onto your smartphone, you, too, can insert yourself into the music video for "Wild"—and that's just the start of the possibilities on Reface, formerly known as Doublicat. Currently, Reface sits at #1 in the entertainment category of the App Store, far outpacing other face-swap apps like Face Swap Live.

Using Reface is refreshingly simple. Want to be Rihanna? Captain Jack Sparrow? Kate Winslet in the happy bits of Titanic? Upload a selfie to the app, and ta da—you're there.

If you're not up for taking a selfie (hey, we all have those days), it's also possible to upload photos of other people, like Teigen did with Legend. Miley Cyrus, for example, inserted her godmother Dolly Parton into her own "Midnight Sky" music video.

Cyrus's followers caught on, replacing her with other celebrities, like Britney Spears, Cardi B, and Demi Lovato.

The Reface app uses powerful artificial intelligence (AI) to create realistic videos. Unlike, say, the JibJab videos popular in the mid-aughts, which allowed people to upload static selfies into online greeting cards, faces on Reface change as the video unfolds, making them seem nearly real. When Teigen uploaded herself into Legend's place in "Wild," for example, it really appeared as if she was singing.

The app's ease of use and abundant possibilities is what makes it so appealing. It's also what makes it potentially dangerous. Reface—or rather, the AI technology it harnesses for the purpose of fun and games—is a slippery slope. In fact, a recent study in the Crime Study journal concluded that AI-enabled crimes are a sizable threat, Vice reports.

These videos are called "deepfakes," named for the online account that popularized them. Used in the harmless context of Reface, deepfake technology is perfect for having a laugh, or upping one's texting game. But when this technology is applied to politics or other consequential sectors, there's risk involved.

Essentially, deepfakes can be harnessed to make people appear to have said things they never said (just like it appears Teigen sang "Wild"). These videos could exacerbate the already rampant problem of misinformation by making it difficult for even the most media literate to tell between "real" and "fake."

Need proof? Take a look at this fake news PSA, created in 2018 with FakeApp, a deepfake app. In the video, Former President Barack Obama appears to be saying things–things he never said. Then, the video reveals that producer and comedian Jordan Peele had said the script.

As this technology becomes more accessible (lookin' at you, Reface), the need for vigilance becomes more important than ever. According to a recent interview with Tech Crunch, the creators of Reface are working on a technology to help spot Deepfakes in the wild.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, expert Matthias Niessner gave his tips for correctly identifying a video as a deepfake. Niessner recommends looking at the video's source; checking where else it can be found online; slowing the video down to scan for inconsistencies; and searching for visual anomalies, especially around the mouth. Another tell? Experts say that deepfake videos often can't capture realistic blinking patterns, so pay attention to the eyes, too.

In any event, we're not trying to be utter buzzkills. Have fun with Reface, or any other app of your choosing—but don't believe everything you see online...not that you would.

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