Computer Graphics World

Winter 2019

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w i n t e r 2 0 1 9 c g w 1 5 A digital fountain of youth poured onto the big screen this year, giving several leading actors the opportunity to play characters at extremely younger ages. In three films, The Irishman, Gemini Man, and Captain Marvel, lead actors Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Will Smith, and Samuel Jackson ap- peared younger during their entire films. Artists at three studios – Industrial Light & Magic, Weta Digital, and Lola – took the lead in "youthenizing" actors for these feature films. De-aging is a two-part process: captur- ing and applying the actor's performance and changing the physical appearance. Each studio took a different approach. The Irishman: Industrial Light & Magic In this film, the aging former truck driver and self-confessed hit man Frank Sheeran rem- inisces about his life and relationship with Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa and mobster boss Russell Bufalino. Martin Scorsese directed the film adap- tion of the book "I Heard You Paint Houses" by Charles Brandt. Netflix released The Irish- man in November. It powered out of the gate with film festival awards and a 96 percent approval rating from critics compiled by Rotten Tomatoes. Three septuagenarian megastars led the cast and played characters at various younger ages. Robert DeNiro, who was 76 when filming, plays Sheeran from ages 20 to 80. Al Pacino, 78, plays Jimmy Hoffa from 37 to his disappearance in 1975; and Joe Pesci, 76, played Bufalino from ages 47 to 72. ILM created the youthful characters. Pablo Helman was visual effects supervisor, with Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepul- veda, and Ivan Busquets as associate visual effects supervisors. Artists in San Francisco and Vancouver worked on the show. This is not the first time ILM has created a digital lead actor – the studio won an Oscar for turning Bill Nighy into a half-dead pirate for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest in 2006. Ten years later, they brought actor Peter Cushing back to life through a digital character that plays Tarkin for a few shots in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Now, for The Irishman, the crew created younger versions of the characters played by DeNiro, Pacino, and Pesci who appear throughout the entire film. To do so, the studio developed a new system called Flux. Stephane Grabli led the R&D Flux team. "We could have captured them using head cameras and dots on their faces," Helman says. "But when I met with Martin, he said, 'No head cams. No volume. I want them to be on set with theatrical lighting. You figure it out.' " They did just that. And more. No head cams. No volume. No special lighting. And, no keyframe animation. No Head Cams, No Markers "The idea was to capture the most amount of information we could without markers," Helman says. "And, if there were no markers, the soware we would develop would need to derive everything from the light and tex- tures captured on set. So, we came up with a rig that used infrared cameras and didn't stop Marty [Scorsese] from doing anything. We worked closely with Director of Photog- raphy Rodrigo Prieto and Arri Los Angeles." Acting Their Ages The actors in The Irishman played characters many years younger than themselves throughout the film. Even so, they didn't have body dou- bles or digital body doubles. Instead, the actors did yoga, and a body analyst was on set every day. "Marty [Director Martin Scorsese] had a specific idea about what the characters' lives had been," says Visual Effects Supervisor Pablo Helman. "Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) had a really rough life. It was OK if he didn't always walk as a younger person might. The majority of the movie is conversation. And, the whole movie is from Sheeran's point of view, from the memory of this character. When there was action, they worked it out with the movement person." AL PACINO, 78, AT LEFT, PLAYED JIMMY HOFFA, 44, AT RIGHT, IN THE IRISHMAN. JIMMY HOFFA (AL PACINO) AND FRANK SHEERAN (DENIRO) IN THE FOREGROUND.

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