The tranquility and the romance that radiates the colonial and historic city of Cartagena de Indias, in Colombia, abruptly are interrupted by the persecution mutual between two gunmen. One is retired at 53 years old and the other newly 23. Up there sounds like an action movie, a common. What is particular is that the two killers are played by the same actor, Will Smith, but one is real and the other 100 percent digital. Are the wondrous effects of Gemini Man that make it particularly attractive to this tape, whose premiere will be on October 11, 2019 in the united States.
Make Will Smith look like when I was playing the protagonist of the popular series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the decade of the 90’s (which was known in Spanish as the Prince of The Rap), was a task that demanded the work of over 500 artists from six agencies of special effects, headed by the study to new zealand’s Weta Digital, the same which has been behind projects such as Avengers: Endgame and X-Men, supervised by Bill Westenhofer, who did the same work in Life of Pi.
The first official trailer
Thus is born Junior
Smith plays the hitman retired Henry Brogan, while his clone digital has no name, while at Weta Digital he was baptized as a Junior. The work to bring it to life, began in 2017, when the director Ang Lee, who directed Life of Pi and the version of Hulk (2003), among others, joined the project Gemini Man and three months later brought to Westenhofer.
Beyond some cameos, like the well-done Carrie Fisher on the Rogue One, or the aging of Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the Junior is the first case of an actor 100 per cent digital, which not only has multiple occurrences, but also coprotagoniza a movie. “A digital persona is something that has been talked about since I started the visual effects for the past 26 years,” said Westenhofer.
The first step was to scan completely a series of gestures of the face of Smith with a set of high resolution cameras. The idea was to have the greatest amount of information in your repertoire expressive. In parallel, Weta designed a digital model of the body of Smith, from a chassis biomechanical standard that is used for their humans, generated by computers.
The second stage was a bit more complex, since it involved transforming the digital image of a person of 49 years old in a young man of 23. To do this, they reviewed the abundant material available from Smith of the early and mid 90’s, as the films Bad Boys, Six Degrees of Separation and Independence Day, and, certainly, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Different teams have fulfilled different tasks. The modeling of the enamel and dentin of the teeth, working on the compression of the lips, to map the pore, to analyse the formation of wrinkles of the skin, to study the balance of the pigments and even the behavior of the eyes, as well as the interaction of the cornea with the iris and of the pupil.
Second official trailer
Junior seemed real, at least in still images. It was a “corpse without a soul”, according to Smith. To give life to his clone digital, Smith moved to Budapest to record in a studio what the team called “the B side”. Wearing helmets bulky, a series of cameras recorded all the movements of his face.
Despite the large amount of information and digital data of the expressions of Smith with which had the a team, Junior was not ready to record a first plane. For this reason, the animators graphics from Weta analyzed and reviewed all of the gestures and emotions of Smith’s frame-by-frame, with the goal of capturing in detail the microexpresiones and all sutilizas and riches of human behavior.
Keeping the proportions, the goal was that Junior could replicate Smith in all its nuances fisionómicos. Some sequences took up to twelve months, while others took only hours or days. “It was the only way that we could be confident that the Will Smith animated seemed to be realistic,” says Stuart Adcock, head of Department of Facial Movements in the study.
Judging by the progress, everything indicates that the work was to be achieved. Unlike other movies where the special effects are nuanced with dark scenes, Lee recorded in scenarios that are well lit or during the day and does not prevent the first flat prolonged, which increases the feeling that what you’re seeing is 100 percent real.
Who is the owner of the clone Will Smith?
You can call him actor to virtual, v-actor or a synthespian. What is concrete is that this type of effects opens up endless possibilities for the development of the film industry, but also a series of debates about the direction that will take the industry. These new digital actors have a capacity superhuman, do not require rest, makeup, or hairdressing. Don’t even need a trailer, since they “live” on a hard disk.
This is something that is concerned actors like Andy Serkis, who is also a director and expert in special effects. “When an interpretation becomes data, it can be manipulated, reworked or sampled ( … ) Where the intellectual property? Who is the author of the action? Where are the limits?”, questioned in an interview with Screen Daily.
According to Wired, the studio behind Gemini Man, Paramount Pictures, refused to clarify what rights I would have Smith on his counterpart to digital, while Weta could not reveal what would happen to the valuable data of Junior. “Unfortunately, the digital companies still control the assets. Legally I control my image, they control the real information,” said Smith, who couldn’t even save a copy of Junior on a USB memory.
The movie Gemini Man opens Friday 11 October 2019.
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