When Paul Walker passed away in November 2013, fans all over the world mourned while the cast and crew was left devastated. Putting aside emotion, they were left with one big question and that was, how were they to complete the movie? No character was dispensable especially not Brian played by Paul who set has been instrumental in setting the tone of the first movie and every movie that followed. So what were they to do now? Universal as refused to discuss how they plan to bring Paul Walkers character to life and if any visual effects will be employed in it beyond saying that his brothers Cody and Caleb stood in for Paul and the director pulled in shots of Paul from the previous movies. But some sources that spoke about the use of visual effects in Fast and Furious 7 told the Hollywood Reporter that Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital was asked to complete the sensitive and arduous task of reanimating Walker for Furious 7, and its cutting-edge work points toward a future where most actors can be re-created seamlessly if needed. (The company declined to comment on its specific contributions though.)
But the talks and rumours about the use of visual effects in Fast and Furious 7 just won’t die down. Many believe that Paul Walker has been digitally recreated with the use of CGI and body doubles to finish the movie. Some sources have also told the first showing that they have hired four actors with bodies very similar to Paul’s physique and they will be used for movement and as a base. Paul’s face and voice will be used on top using CGI.
This is not the first time, movies and production houses have has to use the support of the visual effects team to complete a movie after the untimely loss or death of a character. They had to apply a similar technique when Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away with a few shots left to the shooting of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. The use of such techniques go as far back as the Oscar award-winning movie, the Gladiator when Oliver Reed suffered a fatal heart attack during the filming. There is much speculation over what technique has been employed to create these digital masks with many favouring the probably use of motion capture. Ofcourse, they will need to get as many close ups of the actors face to get the exact replication of his features right and not mention an outstanding texture artist to make the skin look real. But if this is the road they have taken, then the toughest job falls to the animator and the rigger who will have to make every single expression extremely believable and human like. And that is where people believe motion capture can come to the aid of the animators. And this is Weta Digital we are talking about! Motion Capture is their forte and there are few who can even compete with them. Maybe we will see a digitally recreated Paul Walker. But will we be able to tell the difference? Only time and the audience with the first day first shows have the answer to that.
The movie is set to release in the month of April. Here is a peak at the official trailer again while we wait for the movie to hit the theatres.