Time stands still for no one, which when it comes to making movies can be a little tricky, especially when it comes to the aging process. Sometimes stories call for younger versions of characters, but not so much that an overhaul is needed. That’s where de-aging technology comes in, but while it might seem like applying a few filters is used to shave off a few years, it turns out that the VFX involved is a bit more involved than that. According to Digital Domain VFX supervisor Kelly Port, there are actually many different processes involved in digital de-aging – and any number of them can be used, depending on the needs of the project or scene.
“It’s a bunch of different techniques. Some studios have kind of a fake kind of deep technique. There’s a lot of proprietary face tracking built into it, and then they basically follow this one and have to turn it back on,” said Port during an appearance on Corridor Crew. “It’s also kind of a push, tuck and pull.”
Spider-Man: No Coming Home saw Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus get a bit of an anti-aging treatment, as Tom Holland’s film brought the character back 20 years after his death in 2004’s Spider-Man 2. For Molina, it’s been 17 years between playing the character, so he just needed a bit of tweaking, something Port also talked about a bit.
“There are all these characteristics that occur as a human being ages and these are the things that you just have to correct now, and you can over-correct that, and they start to look too young or too different,” said- he declared. “And so, we tried to do our best to keep it pretty subtle, but sound more towards what it sounded like in the previous movie.”
Last April, Molina himself spoke of a first conversation he had with No coming home director Jon Watts on his character’s aging in the film, referencing Martin Scorsese The Irishman and how this movie aged Robert De Niro, even if it wasn’t entirely transparent.
“He just looked at me and said, ‘Did you see what we did to Bob Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson?'” Molina said, before referring to The Irishman. “They made Robert De Niro’s face look younger, but when he was fighting he looked like an older man. He looked like an old man! That’s what worried me about doing it again.”
He added: “I don’t have the same physique as I did 17 years ago. That’s a fact.”
Spider-Man: No Coming Home is now available for home purchase. The next Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessopens in theaters May 5.