How Did the 'Dark Fate' VFX Team Bring Back Young Sarah Connor?
With de-aging all the rage, it's no surprise that when it came to Dark Fate, we got altered versions of the Connor family and the T-800. How did they do it?
Everyone is talking about the de-aging in The Irishman and Gemini Man, but what about the epic maneuvers they used in Terminator: Dark Fate to recreate 90s Arnold, Edward Furlong, and Linda Hamilton?
The answers lie with Eric Barba, the film's VFX supervisor.
He won an Oscar for 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, so he knows a thing or two about messing with age. He told The Hollywood Reporter, "I look back at Benjamin Button and the tools that we had, and I don't know how we got it that good...Ten years later, we are still pushing that envelope. It's still really hard."
There are a few ways to commit to de-aging an actor.
In Dark Fate, they worked with several techniques.
For the flashback, they used "digital head replacement," which is exactly how it sounds. Younger actors playing the bodies have their faces removed and replaced by those of the famous actors' in post.
To do that, they had to scan the original people then use a markerless facial capture system called Anyma to capture each actor's performance. This tech was pioneered by Disney.
For shorter shots, they used ILM's blink software, which works to de-age the faces of the original actors.
So, what do you need to even use this kind of software?
They used Sony's Venice camera, shooting 4K at a higher frame rate of 48 frames per second. That's the minimum ILM thinks you can do to make these kinds of transformations possible.
Barba said, "It's crucial when you are trying to re-target and animate to another face, you need those subframes to get all of the intricacies for the human face, so it doesn't feel a little 'Botox-y' or that something's not quite right. It makes a big difference in what you ultimately get."
At the end of the day, the VFX team completed 1,900 shots.
That's pretty extensive for such a small portion of the movie, but it all looked great.
What's next? How did a guy de-age The Irishman at home?
You heard the buzz, You saw the movie. And like many, you were probably somewhat impressed by the de-aging process like I was. But then, some guy in a basement with free software saw the movie and said: "I can do that."
Click to see how.