It’s not every day that you get to see dead celebrities come back from the grave, that’s certainly not the case for the people at Framestore though, who famously brought famous actor, Audrey Hepburn back to life for a Galaxy commercial.
Hepburn represents everything elegant and classy, hence, it was ideal that Galaxy pick up on those qualities showcased by Hepburn and to implement their product as “silk, not cotton. Upon watching the advertisement for the first time, it was incomprehensible on how a globally recognized face was recreated even with original footage that are incompatible with today’s high standards.
Two body doubles were casted, one to represent her 20-inch waist and another to convey her distinctive bone structure. The shot and footage was then augmented with VFX.
Facial action coding system (FACS) was also used to scan the face of the double. This captured an abundance of hi-res skin textures and more than 60 different facial expressions for the animators to replicate for recreating the computer generated (CG) Hepburn.
The creators had to then perfectly lock the actor’s body to the CG head. Without this step and a perfect head joint, a “nodding-dog” effect would’ve ruined all the hard work. This step was fortunately recreated with a past CG work on a Sandra Bullock film.
The next big obstacle was to make the computer-generated skin look real. Using a renderer, Arnold, the perfect soft, translucent look of real skin was created, combined with a soft “peach fuzz” to break-up a robotic perfection.
Without geometrical data of Hepburn’s face, recreating her as a CG person was close to inaccurate science. Trial and error was the way to go, being persistent until they reached the perfect end-result.
Although aired in 2013, the ad is still enjoying international airtime today. Hollywood has since been quietly debating the consequences of photoreal CG actors and posthumous usage. There are also rumors of young celebrities are having their bodies scanned at various ages as a form of digital cryogenics.