Making Jesse Eisenberg's Evil Twin: A Look at the VFX of 'The Double'

Richard Ayoade, who you might remember for directing the coming-of-age comedy Submarine, has teamed up with DP Erik Wilson, VFX supervisor Matt Clarke, and Jesse Eisenberg to adapt Dostoyevsky's 1846 novella The Double. The Creators Project caught up with Ayoade to talk about the film's visual effects -- how they designed the quasi-familiar, dystopian future world, as well as how they managed to get not one, but two Jesse Eisenbergs on-screen through rotoscoping.

The Double is all about -- well -- doubles. The title character, Simon James, falls into madness when his doppelgänger James Simon slowly invades his life, and the VFX team knew they had to pay special attention not only to, of course, producing two Eisenbergs on-screen, but also designing a dystopian world in which to communicate and flesh out that madness. The creative team decided against green screening and opted for rotoscoping. Ayoade says to The Creators Project:

There wasn't any green screen. We weren't keying [Eisenberg] off, but it was all rotoscoped. Whenever two people were in the same frame, one of them had to be cut out using body doubles, and then removing that person and putting Jesse back in. Just a combination of a lot of care and attention to detail.

This might seem like a pretty straightforward process if you know what you're doing, but the challenge of rotoscoping was exacerbated when Ayoade decided to shoot on film.

We shot it on film -- which is not generally what you'd be advised to do with motion control. Film flutters in the gate, your image is weaving slightly, so to composite these two layers together, they have to stabilize this film weave. But we wanted it to be on film, to have that texture and grain, and to sort these things out later.

Take a look at The Creators Project video below to learn all about The Double, from the intriguing narrative to the approach to the VFX. 

The Double is now in theaters nationwide as of today.

What do you think about the behind the scenes video of The Double? What do you think about Ayoade and his team's approach to the film's VFX? Let us know in the comments!

Link: [Video] Damsels, Doppelgängers & Dostoyevsky: The Devious Devices Behind "The Double" -- The Creators Project

Your Comment


I sometimes get irritated when people deliberately go out of their way to make life harder for themselves.

As much as I admire the director's choice to set himself (and the money-paying producers) the challenge of such a feat, one must ask :- Why?!

I'm quite sure the audience won't be gasping at the organic, graininess of the film image.

At the end of the day, the story is the most important thing, and not how they overcome such unnecessary technical challenges by rotoscoping on film.

May 9, 2014 at 3:33PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


That statement pretty much disregards film as an artform. You only get something great by fully following the directors vision. Once you start there you can ask, why shoot on location, we could just use a sound stage. Why bother with that lighting, or the details in production design, the audience won't notice the difference. The aesthetics of films often shouldn't be noticed by the audience. It's subconscious response.

May 9, 2014 at 5:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I apologise for the brash response - but essentially you're point is - why don't you just cut corners? - well the answer is embedded in the question. Films whereby that little bit of extra effort to achieve a certain look are the ones you remember. Cutting corners is visible to almost everyone, and that's why it's avoided, especially with a budget this big and such a great cast, it would be a waste to spoil it by cutting corners over film quality, you might as well go the extra step.

May 10, 2014 at 2:28AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Ian P

After all it's just art isn't? or they should do everything just thinking about what the audience is going to say? We can let this things for Michael Bay. They had a very talented DP and worked with one of the best post houses (Framestore) And film still have the unique texture. I don't see why they should skip the director's choice.

May 9, 2014 at 3:51PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


richard ayoade is the best

May 9, 2014 at 4:31PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Indeed, his one o f the most brilliant directors of our days, I am a big fan!

May 10, 2014 at 3:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Morris Moss managed to escape the basement! Yay! Big fan as well.

May 10, 2014 at 8:40AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Directed this classic:

May 10, 2014 at 2:55PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I imagine they put a subtle film weave back in the vfx comps to match the rest of the footage when exporting, but it would be interesting to see a film shot on these stocks with all of the weave stabilized throughout. I wonder how digital it would look?

May 11, 2014 at 10:28AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Is a little shout-out to "Brazil" too much to ask?

May 16, 2014 at 1:25PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I'm really impressed together with your writing skills as neatly as with the format in your weblog.

Is this a paid subject or did you modify it yourself?
Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it's rare to look a nice blog like this one nowadays..

June 27, 2014 at 1:12AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM