This past June, Movistar+ released ‘Expediente Pérez’ a limited (three episode) special that’ll leave you feeling like you just had a dose of television innovation.
The show is one of the first programs in Spain to draw on the use of deepfake. Cutting-edge technology some of you may have seen on shows like ‘El Intermedio’ or ‘Late Motiv’ which uses the face and gestures of a well-known celebrity to impersonate them.
We sat down to discuss this and much more with Raúl Pérez who, together with Javier Durán, direct this remarkable challenge produced by El Terrat for the platform. He told us all about the ins and outs of the machinery audiences don’t see, the impersonations that were the most difficult to get right, and even his future hopes for this unique touchpoint.
At the presentation of ‘Expediente Pérez’ you described it as “a format without format”, what did you mean by that?
It’s really hard to pigeonhole because it’s a sketch show that also has a common thread being current affairs and different ways of approaching humor but without specifying any particular way. Each program is about a hot topic but then we deal with different issues … that’s why there’s no established definition for it. It’s a comedy format, which is the most important feature to highlight.
What current affairs issue does each of the three programs deal with?
One is about YouTubers, and we focus on how many have flown the nest to set up shop in Andorra so they can pay less tax. Another is about vaccines, which we’ve given a somewhat ‘futuristic’ vibe to because it’s set in 2027, we assume that five years after vaccines have wiped out COVID. And to wrap up, we chose the topic of tourism and how tourism will be reactivated, borders, the way to disconnect and all that…
Which character you imitate is the ‘host’ of each program?
In the first one, we have Glòria Serra, although Pedro Piqueras also pitches in. In the second, it’s Iñaki Gabilondo and the third one about tourism is presented by Antonio García Ferreras, with a special that lasts years and is called ‘Verano Al Rojo Vivo’ (Red Hot Summer).
This is one of the first programs in Spain to use deepfakes, what exactly does this technology consist of?
It’s the first program to use the technology so powerfully, with up to four imitations using it per show. The process requires that you first record yourself, your face at different angles, using a range of facial expressions and gestures and then the machine compares them with the real character. It mixes the two, calculates, processes and minimum is 10-15 days before the technology can use the face of the authentic character superimposed on yours. The difference is practically almost imperceptible.
So, with this technology we could even resuscitate celebrities from the past?
This, used well, is a technology that opens up a world of possibilities for comedy. We could revive dead characters, something that has already been done with Lola Flores in the commercial. And I think that used well, as long as you have the family’s permission, it could be absolutely fascinating.
For example, I’d love to revive Mozart. Or other celebrities from the world of sport, doing humorous speeches … I’m a big fan of this kind of thing.
For you, who was the most difficult person to imitate?
Because we were working with new characters, perhaps the one that was the hardest to get right, and I’m still playing around with it in my head, because given the vocabulary he uses and his mannerisms, he’s extraordinarily complex, and I’m referring to Ibai Llanos. Undoubtedly, he’s been the most complicated.
And someone that came most naturally or was the easiest to do?
Not easier, but I had more experience working with Leiva, Piqueras and C. Tangana which I did singing, and I was delighted with the way it came out. Women are always difficult for me because of the different voice quality, but except for Glòria Serra, with the rest I was helped out by Mónica Chaparro.
You also mentioned that Miguel Bosé liked the imitation you did of him…
Yes, I got wind of that talking to Millán Salcedo on Instagram. Apparently, he sent Miguel the impersonation and he told him that it had made him laugh.
And any other famous person who congratulated you on their imitation or who didn’t like it?
No, personally, I haven’t heard anything from anyone. But I heard from people who did like Leiva, Piqueras, Ferreras, Ibai, Glòria Serra … many who told me they loved them.
And, if there were to be more installments of ‘Expediente Pérez’ what issues would you like to cover?
Well, I’d love to cover more timeless issues such as cinema and even sports, which is something we’ve got in the pipeline and would be interesting. I wish we had three more episodes, and even a thousand more. Because in comedy, almost everything has already been invented but playing around with new technologies is always going to produce fresh content.