Monday, October 19, 2015

Building a Performance

... one pixel at a time.

... Producer Neal Moritz and director James Wan wanted “Furious 7” to remain faithful to the film they had started, and to include as much of [the late Paul] Walker as possible in scenes that hadn’t been filmed. Weta ended up doing a whopping 350 shots, most of them involving Walker’s character. ...

The team went through old footage, building a reference library of Walker as Brian O’Conner by using outtakes from “Furious 7” and previous films in the franchise. But those moments had been filmed in one lighting environment and the Weta team “essentially had to relight his performance” digitally for each new scene, said Letteri. ...

[Weta visual effects supervisor Martin] Hill says the first goal was to create a photo-real digital human who can believably move and act onscreen. “That’s a high bar in itself, to create that. Beyond that, this actor was known to millions of fans, and this had to be Paul Walker — more specifically, Walker in character as Brian O’Conner.”

For a scene in Los Angeles, the principal characters all stand in a line, and Walker’s character “is giving meaningful looks to the others and delivering dialog, and he’s full frame. That visual effects work had to be invisible,” says Hill. ...

So the question is, when will live actors be eliminated from movies altogether?

At some point, it's all artists in front of computers. Digital stunt doubles now do high falls. Aliens interact with humans. How long before John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Paul Newman (from the "Butch Cassidy" era) start making new block-buster motion pictures?


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