Talk of digital actors a bit premature.
March 2, 2001 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Talk of digital actors a bit premature. For those Hollywood execs who were forecasting the advent of virtual actors and actresses, a look at how hard it is to bring the dead to life, albeit briefly.
posted by darren (4 comments total)
Actually, has anyone here seen "Road to Avonlea" (Canada) or simply "Avonlea" (here in the states)?

It's been off for several years now, although it can still be seen in reruns on several channels. About seven or eight years ago one of the series' central characters, Marilla (who you might remember from "Anne of Green Gables") had to be written off the show by the sudden passing of Colleen Dewhurst.

Using a combination of various series, movie, and unreleased footage, Kevin Sullivan, the producer, was able to quite effectively have Dewhurt's character pass away halfway through the episode *after* having had a stroke.

While watching it now it's fairly obvious how it's done, back when it originally aired it was extremely impressive and quite moving-- even though we already knew Dewhurst was gone, we were actually hopeful that her character would pull through.

Quite masterful and clearly demonstrated what could happen when the technology is used well. If you ever have a chance to watch it, I'd recommend it. While the series might be sappy, it is one of my fondest memories of youth.

posted by tsitzlar at 2:03 PM on March 2, 2001

There was also the instance of Oliver Reed "acting from beyond the grave" in a scene near the end of "Gladiator", since he died mid-filming. It looked pretty bad if you ask me. (The scene in question is the one where he is hiding Maximus in his home, and the centurions are demanding to be let in.) They mostly show him from behind or from a distance. When they do show his face, you can easily tell he is not really there on the set.

There were also those television commercials involving Fred Astaire and John Wayne, as well as the historical figures in "Forrest Gump", but in those cases, instead of trying to insert a dead actor into new footage, they were inserting new actors or objects into old footage. That's a whole different ball game. It's easier than inserting old footage into new, but still very difficult, and the illusion still does not hold up to close scrutiny.

Then there's the upcoming Final Fantasy movie. Looking at the trailers, it seems that while it brings a whole new level of realism to computer animated characters, it is still recognizable as computer animation. Nobody would mistake those "virtual" actors for real people. They look as though they are made of rubber and/or plastic.

Oh yeah, I also saw a short news blurb a while back (sorry, I don't have a link), which talked about how Anthony Hopkins and the producers of "Hannibal" were wanting to do a second movie adaptation of Thomas Harris's first Lecter novel, "Red Dragon", which has already been filmed once before. Since Hopkins is getting a little old, and this would be a prequel, they were talking about using computers to alter his face and voice to make him look younger in the movie. Somehow, I don't think that would work very well, but you never know...
posted by Potsy at 3:57 PM on March 2, 2001

Manhunter (the film adaptation of Red Dragon) was a good movie... I hope they don't attempt to butcher it with a remake. Best part of the movie? They use the full 17 minute version of Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-vida as the background for the climax. Very nicely done.
posted by Neb at 4:50 PM on March 2, 2001

I'm surprised no one has mentioned The Crow, which had several scenes that were finished using a body double and some slick CGI work after Brandon Lee's tragic on-set death.
posted by webmutant at 8:35 AM on March 5, 2001

« Older The Future of the Internet is the Web application...   |   12 inches of ho smackin' attitude! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments