New Software Can Change An Actor's On-Screen Appearance

By Will LeBlanc 2010-10-08 15:00:30discussion comments
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New Software Can Change An Actor's On-Screen Appearance image
As an actor, one major part of “getting into the role” is assimilating the character’s appearance into your own, becoming who your character was or is. And I don’t mean by just slapping on some make-up and some snazzy wardrobe. I’m talking about hitting the gym 300 style to really be a Spartan warrior, or hitting the couch with a bag of chips and transforming into Jake LaMotta.

According to THR and the folks at Germany’s Max Planck Institute, that sort of method acting is going to be a thing of the past. A new program designed by researchers at the institute called “MovieReshape” can seemingly take anyone’s general shape and alter it on screen to match whatever body type the director is looking for. Scientist Christian Theobalt had this to say about the software he helped create:
You could use it to do something similar to what they did to Brad Pitt on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, making him younger or older but much faster and with less computing power. What would take days using conventional SFX software our model can do in a matter of hours."


Quite frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it. The little video they provided of a dude shooting a basketball isn’t nearly enough of a test of the programs power to really sell it to an audience already wary of special effects. Perhaps if they release some closer up footage of a bunch of varying subjects then we’d be a little more apt to buy what they’re pushing, but for now I’m not sold.

If you look at Christian Bale in The Machinist versus him in Batman Begins, there’s an unbelievable difference, one that seemingly only the human body can make. Despite the obvious health benefits of not having to lose or gain weight, this is the sort of thing that will make an actor lazy, and not the good kind of lazy like Robert DeNiro was for Raging Bull. I’m all about actors doing things safely so that we may see them in their next role, but until this looks absolutely legit, I won’t mind seeing actors knock a year or two off their life for $20 million.

Check out the weak ass demo below.


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