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America's Got Talent's Metaphysic Explains The Challenges Of Deepfaking Heidi Klum And Elvis For The Season 17 Finale

Metaphysic on America's Got Talent
(Image credit: NBC)

Metaphysic returned to the America’s Got Talent stage with one final performance in Season 17 for their shot at the prize of $1 million and a Las Vegas stage show. The genre-defying group with their AI technology went even bigger for their last chance by deep-faking not only one of the biggest icons in music history, but also the last two judges who had yet to make an appearance in one of their acts. Metaphysic delivered Elvis Presley, Heidi Klum, and Sofia Vergara in the finale with a mash-up of "You're the Devil in Disguise" and "Hound Dog," and it turns out that Klum and Elvis in particular presented some deepfake challenges.

In their first AGT performance, Metaphysic used the technology to deepfake Simon Cowell to sing Chicago’s “You’re The Inspiration,” and immediately earned the judges’ approval to advance to the next round. (Former Season 13 finalist Daniel Emmet was responsible for the actual singing behind the tech.) After their qualifiers performance (which upped the ante by deepfaking judge Howie Mandel and Terry Crews as well as Cowell), the group previewed their plan to deliver a rock and roll icon for the finale. That icon turned out to be Elvis, with backup singers Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara!

The finale was the first time on AGT that any women were included in the Metaphysic performance. When company co-creator Chris Ume spoke with press following the episode, I asked whether the much longer hair presented any kinds of challenges with Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara as opposed to Simon Cowell, Terry Crews, Howie Mandel, and Elvis Presley. Ume shared:

It's difficult, of course, because it's all about likeness. It's a difficult thing because even if you have people wearing a wig, a wig's not always the same thing. With Heidi, for example, you can see we were actually implementing her real hair on top of the wig and somehow also changed the shape of her head. So it all matched. It's those small things which make Heidi Heidi, and I've been analyzing all their faces. [laughs] I've also been analyzing Elvis and it's like Elvis has the bigger chin, right, and a big forehead. That's something Emilio [Santoro] doesn't have. So those are things we have to keep in mind while training the models. And that's where I've come in, obviously.

Metaphysic’s deepfaking isn’t just putting a wig on somebody and going for an approximate look that might resemble a celebrity, and it’s no surprise that the group couldn’t just find an exact double for supermodel Heidi Klum, who also has bangs. That’s not something that they had to contend with for certain of the AGT men whose faces that Ume analyzed for Season 17. Plus, even though few AGT viewers probably saw the King of Rock performing in the flesh prior to his death in 1977, Elvis Presley has a very recognizable look that Metaphysic had to get right. 

Based on the audience’s reaction (not to mention the delight of Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara at being included), I would say that they got it very right! Simon Cowell still seems to love whenever Daniel Emmet makes an appearance as the deepfake version of him as well. In case you missed it or just need to see it again to believe it, take a look:

Find out if Metaphysic’s Elvis Presley tribute with Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara as the backup singers won them enough votes to take the top prize with the results episode on Wednesday, September 14 starting at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. The group of finalists was stacked with talented acts to make the competition very stiff. Drake Milligan made the bold decision to go back to an original country song that he’d already performed on AGT (and explained that choice afterward), while country trio Chapel Hart got emotional before, during, and after their song

Pole dancer Kristy Sellars was back just one week after earning herself a slot in the finals by trying something new for the first time, and ventriloquist Celia Munoz returned with a showstopping performance that even topped her Grease tribute after audiences voted to save her. Be sure to tune in to NBC at 9 p.m. on September 14 to find out who among the final eleven will ultimately be named the champion of America’s Got Talent Season 17!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.