We’ve reached the point (almost) where it’s hard to distinguish good visual effects from real objects and or people. The technology continues to get better and better every day. Some are better than others, for example, Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story caused a medium-sized uproar and brought about ethics questions as to if it was appropriate to CG an actor that has long been deceased. Blade Runner 2049 has a digitally re-created character that seems to have succeeded in a somewhat similar visual effects feat.
In the highly anticipated sequel, we see the return of Sean Young as the well-know replicant named Rachel from the original Blade Runner. But, instead of merely bringing back Sean Young and de-aging her, director Denis Villeneuve decided to use a different actor and have the younger version of Young recreated entirely with visual effects. The featurette below shows just how they did it below, but you should know that her return is a major plot point and will be a spoiler if you have not seen the film yet.
In the video, we see how a performance double was used on set, but a very carefully crafted digital double was used in the final cut. What’s impressive is that there are several shots from the original Blade Runner recreated with this digital double, and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart.
The Moving Picture Company (MPC) visual effects studio even brought in the real Sean Young for scanning and to use her as a frame of reference for recreating her subtle movements on her face in the younger digital double.
Pretty incredible stuff. This tech keeps getting better and better and before you know it, we could reach a point where we can’t even tell what’s real, and what’s not.