If anyone knows of digital effects, that would be Andy Serkis. The acclaimed actor is famous for his role as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a role he played with the help of motion-capture technology years before it became normal. Now, talk about what you envision for the future of these special effects techniques which you think could replace traditional makeup.
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In an interview with Total Film, the actor Andy Serkis He spoke about how he thinks digital motion-capture technology will be used in the future to recreate the faces of historical figures, in the same way that make-up prosthetics are used. This is because the level of detail that allows maintaining the actor’s face is so precise that it is possible that in a few years we will see this happen with well-known characters:
In terms of acting, the method of facial capture is evolving all the time and the details, the nuances, in the end what is the root of an interpretation that you get from the actor and his translation of that to the final result is getting closer and closer. One can see it, for example, in the Apes movies. And even further back when we did The Hobbit many years later, Gollum in The Hobbit is on another level of facial capture. I’ve been criticized for saying it’s like digital makeup, but it’s turning out to be that. I think it will be possible for you to play someone from history with photogrammetry and have a real Abraham Lincoln face instead of a handcrafted one.
Now there is the detail. It is not a novelty that many actors find it intimidating to work with prosthetics, precisely because it can be distracting or difficult when trying to express themselves with their face. These could be two problems that digital effects and facial capture fix. Although it has been used primarily for non-human creatures, such as Gollum or Smaug himself, or in the new Planet of the Apes trilogy, it would not be strange if it would soon happen with historical figures.
This is not the first time that Serkis talks about these possibilities, the actor in 2019 had commented something very similar and explained that thanks to this technology it would be possible to prevent actors from being pigeonholed or, more importantly, it would give an opportunity for actors of color to be able to render their versions of white characters. Although on that occasion, at the IBC Show in Amsterdam (via IndieWire) he recognized that it would be necessary to reflect on whether this is ethical.
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That question is not minor. A current concern of those in the field of computer visual effects technology is what kind of use they can be put to. In our era in which information, or lies, are used as a political weapon, we have to think about whether we want to facilitate the possibility of someone “disguising” themselves as another person to give a message that could later go viral. For example, in the case of politicians during elections.
Even in the very realm of entertainment, in the face of recreating actors with CGI there has been a negative response. This since it does not seem ethical to retake the image of deceased actors, much less to assume that a computer or someone else can offer the same job as one of them. What does the future hold? It only remains to wait to see what other things Hollywood comes up with with this technology in hand.
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