The actor"s 2013 death didn"t death his character: VFX artists, v the assist of his two brothers, produced 350 shots to save him ~ above the screen.


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A variation of this story first appeared in the Dec. 18 concern of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click right here to subscribe.

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In the pre-digital era, Paul Walker’s death on Nov. 30, 2013, would have made finishing a movie like Furious 7 a daunting task. Due to the fact that several that his crucial scenes had not yet been filmed, recasting and also reshoots would have actually been necessary. But digital filmmaking techniques have readjusted all that. While global was mum about exactly how Walker’s scenes were finished when the movie, which go on come gross $1.7 billion worldwide, was released in April, currently that it is a significant candidate because that visual impacts awards consideration, VFX super Joe Letteri, indigenous Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital, is explaining exactly how they go it.


Because “we didn’t have everything you would have actually wanted from a reference and research perspective, once Universal and the filmmakers regrouped and also decided castle did want to complete the film and also the Paul pedestrian story, we thought at most we could get one step of a digital Paul that maybe had some conversation in it, and also we’d have to find other means to finish the story,” claims Letteri.

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The final element that had to be added was dialogue. “Most of the CG shots had actually some kind of dialogue,” Letteri says. “The sound editors had to handmade the vocal performance the end of dialog from Paul, and also we had to animate come that.”

With any type of CG human, the key difficulty is sidestepping a perceptual zone known as the “uncanny valley”— when a online character is close come looking believably human, yet still isn’t fairly right, the results have the right to look creepy. Letteri says staying clear of that was all in the details: “You’d see tiny changes in the corners that his mouth that would telegraph what he to be thinking, or in the corners the the eyes. These space really small details, however if you gain them wrong, girlfriend feel that there other fake around the performance. Various other details associated placing the stubble on his beard correctly — the length and placement the every individual hair — due to the fact that when the was off, that didn’t feel favor Paul.”

Hollywood has used assorted VFX approaches in similar situations prior to — in Gladiator, as soon as Oliver Reed endured a deadly heart strike during filming, and on HBO’s The Sopranos, to complete scenes the the late Nancy Marchand, who played Tony Soprano’s mother. But the work-related on Furious 7, which convincingly reverted Walker come the screen, shows just how advanced Hollywood can get with enough time, money, and, critically, talented VFX artists.

Sums increase Letteri: “There yes, really wasn’t room come let noþeles slip. It to be too necessary to finish the story in respect come Paul’s storage — to make certain that once you watched it, girlfriend didn’t think around any of the work that we did. If you were a fan, you were watching Paul’s performance and also saying goodbye.”