Social media is having a lot of fun right now with Henry Cavill's facial hair and the news that he's going to need to have it digitally removed from the Justice League reshoots. But just how much work is going to need to be done? As it turns out, the work is going to need to be fairly extensive. Having said that, it won't be particularly difficult, as digitally removing facial hair is apparently a fairly common practice.
Justice League is currently involved in reshoots in advance of its November release date. However, the reshoots were scheduled during the same time period that Henry Cavill was also filming Mission: Impossible 6. In that movie, Cavill has a mustache, and his contract for that movie does not allow him to shave, as growing it back would cause significant delays for that movie. This has led to the current predicament where Cavill's facial hair is going to need to be digitally removed from Justice League.
According to Business Insider, who looked into exactly what was going to be needed, the answer is, quite a bit. Because we assume that Cavill is going to be moving around during these scenes, a full 3D rendering of the actor's face will need to be created. Then this rendering would need to be properly shaded in order to look realistic. Then the rendering would need to be mapped to Cavill's actual face in the shots. According to sources at the digital effects studio, The Mill, it could take as much as 25 weeks to remove the facial hair from five minutes of footage, which could be a problem since there are fewer than 20 weeks between now and the release date of Justice League.
However, the good news is that apparently, the act of removing facial hair is more common than we might realize for digital effects studios. It's not uncommon for an actor who can't shave during a movie role to film a commercial during that period and need to have the facial hair removed. However, in that case, the process is much easier as, if the face isn't moving around, the perspective is only two dimensional, and thus the fully rendered 3D face isn't needed.
In addition, it's likely that the 3D model of Henry Cavill's face likely already exists, as it would be needed for the production of other visual effects. That means that part of the work has been done, and since that's where a lot of the work would need to be done, it likely won't cost a great deal more to do the work of making Superman appear cleanly shaven.
We'll all get to see the final result when Justice League arrives on screens November 17.