The Big Picture
- The film’s VFX supervisors reveal that their previous work on two projects influenced the special effects in The Creator.
- Face-swapping technology was used effectively in The Irishman and The Mandalorian to transform characters and create visually convincing aged or de-aged versions.
- The use of innovative tools and techniques developed in previous projects contributes to the success of visual effects in The Creator.
The Creator showcases some remarkable special effects in the story that Gareth Edwards wants to tell audiences. But the question is could it have been made the same way in the past? Collider’s editor-in-chief Steve Weintraub had the chance to sit down with the film’s VFX supervisors, Jay Cooper and Andrew Roberts of Industrial Light and Magic, to discuss the making of the film, and the pair revealed that their work on two previous projects influenced the final product seen by audiences.
Weintraub asked if the film could have been made the same way five years ago. “I think yes, it could have been made five years ago,” said Cooper. “It would have been a lot harder. Everything in visual effects really builds on the experience of something we’ve done previously.”
The use of face-swapping was used neatly in order to advance those stories, and some of those tools were tweaked in order to allow a combination of “humans and simulants” to appear on-screen, the simulants in the story being AI-crafted robots that have remarkable human-like features.
Learning from the Past for the Future
In The Irishman, the Martin Scorsese-directed crime drama, Robert De Niro‘s character, Frank Sheeran, is a prime example of face swapping in action. The technology allowed him to appear as his younger self in scenes that spanned several decades, making it possible for the character to age backward in a visually convincing way. The result was a remarkable transformation that allowed De Niro to portray Frank Sheeran’s evolution throughout the film.
The Mandalorian took this one step further. In the final episode of the second season, a young Luke Skywalker appears at the climax of the show. This was made possible by a combination of de-aging technology used on Mark Hamill, who was there on-set, alongside actor Max Lloyd-Jones who was a body double for the younger Skywalker. The de-aged face of Hamill was then sewn onto Lloyd-Jones in post-production.
“So speaking for the simulants, for example, we had a number of tools that we were using that we had developed for The Irishman, that we had developed for some of the face swap work that we had done on Mandalorian. So, it’s like a pyramid. Even to the extent of our artists, our artists have done similar things in different ways, so we’re constantly innovating and expanding our horizons.
But a lot of what we do, the way we try to work as a company, is we’re sort of pushing the peanut uphill repeatedly based on the production that came before it. So, any success we had is not only due to what was shot on set but the previous work that we’ve done at ILM.”
The Creator is now in theaters. Read our review of the film here.