Artificial: Faction’s Emily Morales-Cabrera & Jae Kim Discuss Portraying AI Characters

We had the opportunity to sit down with the competing AI constructs in the 4th season of Bernie Su's interactive Twitch series, Artificial.
Artificial Factions

A couple weeks ago, we had the opportunity to sit down with Emily Morales-Cabrera & Jae Kim who portray the competing AI constructs in the 4th season of Bernie Su’s interactive Twitch series, Artificial. The season finale airs Friday, 11/19 at 5pm PT. You can watch the interview or check out the transcript below the video.

Emily Cabrera-Morales and Jae Kim Discuss Portraying Kai and Ember on Artificial: Factions

The Illuminerdi: Thank you for joining me. This season is a lot different than what we’ve seen in the first two. Your characters, the AIs that you guys are portraying are a lot more advanced than where either Lilith or the original Sophie units were. How did you prepare to take on this role? Did you watch the first two seasons? Did you come in new?

Jae Kim: Yeah, that’s good. For me, so before I even, I didn’t even really know about artificial until obviously I heard about this role and stuff, but I did watch a couple episodes just to be familiar with this world at all. And for me it was a totally brand-new unique experience for me.

There’s audience interaction a lot. And it just seems like one of the most innovative shows I’ve seen, not just on Twitch, but ever. And so I just got familiar with just that, but I didn’t really go too in depth of the character of Lilith, but I was aware of her. But just from seeing snippets of her, it seems like our characters, they’re trying to make our characters a little more human, and then her actually, so in a sense, they were getting a little more dynamic, with human emotions, obviously there was still that human interaction involved.

But yeah, so it was a totally new slate, I think, for our characters. Yeah. I don’t know how you felt about that, Em.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah, it was the same thing I watched maybe, I think, the last episode of the previous season, I watched a couple just to again, get familiar with it, because I mean, Ember and Kai, they’re new to the world. So for me, when I first got the script, I was like, okay, I want to see the world as Ember does. And that’s a lot, there’s a lot I don’t know.

But then there’s a few things we do know just to get familiar with the show and stuff like that. But I did come in with the pretty clean slate on it, but it’s been fun. I have never done anything like this before, and I’ve never heard of any other show that does anything like this either, so having that Twitch chat, we don’t get to see the chat, but having to see it afterwards and reading the comments, it’s so fun to see what everybody’s voting on, or what everybody’s fighting about too.

The Illuminerdi: Right. So that leads me into one of the other questions I wanted to ask you guys. So when you’re running the drum, I’m sure you’ve got some kind of a rig that you’re wearing for motion capture.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah.

Jae Kim: Yeah.

The Illuminerdi: So while you’re performing, do you have a producer in the background that’s sending you respond to this or respond to that?

Jae Kim: Yes.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah.

Jae Kim: So all of us, all the actors are connected through an ear piece and we can hear everyone and we can hear the producers through that. And so they give us updates on what the Twitch chat is saying. And also, they’ll give us the results, maybe seconds before it comes in, but they’ll try to keep us on our toes.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah. The results, it’s normally, you hear in the background, it’s like, okay, okay, okay. It’s Novo one, Novo one, Novo one. Do scene like, and we’re like, okay, I guess, it’s seconds before, and it’s like, welcome back to the show. We’re like, all right, we’re doing this scene.

Jae Kim: Yeah. It’s fun because we’re like the audience in a way too. We’re finding things out and we have to adapt right when we find it out. So, yeah.

The Illuminerdi: Great. Yeah. Steven was telling me that for previous seasons, he’d be like, okay, we’re going to go live in three, two, wait, what’s the result? And you find out just as you guys are going on. So how do you guys prepare for this differently than you would prepare for a normal role that you might have on a, I don’t want to say a regular show, because I mean, this is a regular show, but for a normal scripted production?

Jae Kim: Right. I mean, for me, this is again, like Emily said, it was a totally new world for me. Motion capture, just the logistics of it, motion capture was a totally new world for me. I’ve never done motion capture before. So we had a couple tech rehearsals where we had to go in and get familiar with how to express motion, exactly. Express motions and stuff like that, so that was definitely something that was a little bit hard to get used to.

I mean, now, I feel like we are getting a little more into this world. We’re getting more accustomed to it. But just for me, it was just like, there’re certain emotions I was not reading, and Kai’s more of a subtle character. And I just had to find that line where I was not overexaggerating, but also, I do have to overexaggerated times because it might not read on the motion capture screen. So yeah, in that sense, it was like remembering certain facial expressions, even. That was for me, yeah. I don’t know about you, Em, but yeah.

Artificial Factions
Artificial Factions

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah. Well, I remember the first day that we got, and we were doing the motion capture, we wrote down emotions that were easy to show. And the ones that were hard, it’s really funny, because you’ll have somebody next to us and we’re making the craziest faces ever, all of a sudden it’ll just look normal and we’re just making the craziest faces.

But, I don’t know about you, Jae, but I think when it comes to working on the script and my lines, a lot of it comes to play with, how am I going to move my body? What am I going to do if I can’t clap here? So I have to make sure that whatever movement I make correlates well with my character.

Jae Kim: Yeah. I try to take notes to that too, because each of our characters have certain things that they’re known for. Ember’s very expressive with her arms and all that stuff. And Kai’s a little more reserved than he tries to make smoother movements, instead of joltier movements.

So yeah, in that sense, those things I do try to prepare for, with the physicality of it. But yeah, just as Em said, getting the emotions down was sometimes, I was like, I’m smiling and they’re like, are you sure you’re smiling? Because we can’t read it. I’m like stretching my face muscles. Yeah. So it’s sometimes a work out, but yeah.

The Illuminerdi: So how do you guys see your heist going? We recently found out in one of the more recent episodes that this is actually real. You guys are going to be the masterminds behind developing the plan to steal some, as of yet, unknown thing. I think we’re being led to believe that it might have something to do with Lilith or something else. But up until that, we thought this was just a plan to see what you guys were capable of. But now things might be turning a little bit more.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah. Me and Jae have our theories about what we think, because we really don’t know what’s going to… It’s so funny because we get the script, and then they change the script through the week. So it’s like, we really don’t know what the outcomes will be sometimes, but yeah.

When finding out that the heist is actually real, I don’t know. I feel like Ember has a lot of empathy with Kai’s character, now, the more the show goes on. And same thing with Kai’s character with Ember. And I think that a lot of emotions might get in the way of the heist, in my opinion.

Jae Kim: Yeah. Like Emily said, we have our own theories too. We try to be fans on the side and are like, we might team up instead of going at each other. There were some illusions to us going rogue maybe, away from the humans. So yeah. I mean, that would be one of my predictions, I think. And yeah, in terms of specifics on how the heist will go, we even found out not too far away from the fans, that the heist was going to be real, we’re going to go along with this. Exactly. We’re going to go along with this. So yeah. So in terms of specifics on where the heist will end up, stay tuned, we’re staying tuned too.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Our teams are growing as well. And I think the more the teams grow, the more complicated, the non-AI world gets. Whenever we watch the other scenes, we’re like, damn, did not know that was going on. But there’s a lot of complications that might happen for the heist for both of them, in my opinion.

The Illuminerdi: And is this your guys’ first foray into sci-fi or ha have you guys been fans of this genre in the past?

Jae Kim: Oh, I mean, I’ve definitely been a fan. I love sci-fi, the classics, all of them. But in terms of delving deep in a role, this deep into sci-fi role, this is my first time for sure. And what better way to get introduced to it through this innovative show. So, yeah. I love it.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah. This is my first time working with the sci-fi character and it’s I was so excited because especially in high school I was really into the sci-fi channels.

Jae Kim: I love that channel too.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: I was like, it’s funny because watching those shows back now that I’m older, I’m like, I don’t know if I should be watching this at this age.

The Illuminerdi: You know, it is funny. Some of those older sci-fi shows are like, I guess what you would call now a comfort show. I know them, they’re nostalgic from when I was a kid, and now it’s like, okay, well I need something going in the background. I’m going to turn on season three of Eureka, just because. For you guys, what are those shows for you guys? What are you into as people, as actors?

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Sci-fi or just in general?

The Illuminerdi: Both.

Emily Morales-Cabrera:

Yeah. Well for sci-fi I was really into Being Human. I don’t know if you ever [crosstalk 00:10:47]

The Illuminerdi: The British or the American version?

Emily Morales-Cabrera: The American version, but I was really into that show at one point, but I watch a lot of Showtime shows, so I’m really excited for Dexter to come out, excited for that. A lot of Netflix, Stranger Things, excited for the new season of Stranger Things. And just, I’ve been watching, we all, the entire cast, we all came in one day and we were like, did you watch Squid Game? And a couple people were like, not yet, and two days later they were like, we all finished Squid Game, so I was on that Squid Game hype too.

Jae Kim: Yeah. I’m a little bit of a Trekkie, a little bit.

The Illuminerdi: Oh, you’re a man after my own heart.

Jae Kim: I’m a Patrick Stewart fan, so I love everything that he does as well. So yeah, a little bit of a Trekkie, I’m not familiar with all the seasons, but all the seasons that he’s in, I’m a fan. But in terms of, I love, one of my favorite shows is Breaking Bad. That’s my all-time favorite show. I think shows that are very intricate and it seems like everything falls into place so well, those are the shows that I really love, and I think Breaking Bad does that Star Trek goes off some tangents sometimes, but I still love it for what it is.

And yeah, that, and me and Emily always connect on Strangers Things. I love Stranger Things. It’s a great modern, also homage to the eighties sci-fi flicks. So I think it’s a good combination of everything for today’s modern time. So yeah, so definitely a fan.

Stranger Things Dungeons and Dragons Dungeons & Dragons

The Illuminerdi: Oh, awesome. And I think, not really my last question, but something that I didn’t want to ask, because I came across this last week. There’s a show on, I don’t remember what channel it is, but it’s called Alter Ego. It is a singing competition show that uses the same type of AI avatar type things that you guys perform on this. It is ridiculous. And I thought it was really cool that this technology that you guys are doing on here, is actually also on something on network TV.

So as you guys progress as actors and move forward in the industry, do you see that kind of a thing becoming more normal? Because I mean, obviously motion captured is becoming a huge thing with CGI characters, but do you think it might take over real, like you might get something that’s all completely, that you might be working with an AI character one day.

Jae Kim: Hmm, that’s a really good question.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah. I think yes and no, just because it takes so long sometimes to get it set up. I think time might be an issue with that. That’s the only thing I’m like, I don’t know. I think the technology will advance to make it a lot easier to use, but I can see it being used on some TV shows, to be honest, I think it’s fun. I don’t see why not.

Jae Kim: Yeah. I don’t know. It’s a question I struggle with. It’s a question that our characters in our show struggle with too, and there’s a lot of themes about that. So yeah. I mean, ultimately, hopefully we’ll still have jobs in the future, but I don’t know, if you need a human to drive that AI, ultimately, but I don’t know how, technology, you can’t predict where it’s going to go. I mean, and how fast it’s going to do well, so yeah. There’s reservations about it on me, on my side, but also, it’s really cool. It’s awesome to see this develop, so on the fence about it, I guess.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: When we first started working with it, how much it has progressed in a matter of weeks is shocking.

The Illuminerdi: Has that actually changed how you guys are working with it? Did it start off as one thing and now you guys are using it in a different way? Or not necessarily a different way.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Kind of.

Jae Kim: Well, yeah. I mean, when me and Emily first did it, we did minimal motion capture suits and then they wanted more versatility and physicality with it. So we started changing our suits to more like a full body. Now we’re in full body suits. So with all the headbands and all that stuff, and yeah, now there’re little intricacies that they try to develop every week to improve our movements and stuff. So yeah, on the tech side they’re developing, but yeah, suit wise, we’ve been wearing the same suit since day one, just slight changes. Yeah.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: It’s crazy because when we didn’t have the suits, we’re like, oh, we can’t really do much. And then they put these suits on us and we’re like, yeah, let’s go.

Jae Kim: It reads pretty well.

The Illuminerdi: That’s awesome. Well, thank you guys so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. I’m looking forward to checking out the show on its new day, which is now Fridays.

Emily Morales-Cabrera: Yeah. This is a good episode, so you have to tune in for it.

Jae Kim: Yep. Friday nights are going to be pretty cool.

The Illuminerdi: I’m excited. Especially after the end of this past week with this mysterious figure coming in and threatening Tex, going to have to find out what’s going on there.

Jae Kim: You’ll see. You’ll see.

artificial intelligence

Artificial: Factions‘ finale airs airs tonight at 5pm PT on Twitch.



Picture of Josh Goldman

Josh Goldman

If you really want to know me, you should watch Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, Rankin-Bass's Flight of Dragons, Johnny Dangerously, and Spaceballs. Co-Founder of The Illuminerdi.