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Hollow Men and Invisible People - Layers of a Digital Actor

reported by: Jinger Roy

This sketch dealt with the challenges of creating a virtual Kevin Bacon to insert into parts of the upcoming movie Hollow Man. Scott Anderson, Wayne Kennedy, Jeremy Cantor, Josh Reiss, Ken Hahn, and Laurence Treweek discussed the various techniques they used in the movie to recreate Kevin Bacon's performance and make a human body dissolve into thin air.

Part of the challenge was to make a convincing copy of Kevin Bacon's biology. Wax figures from medical research experiments were observed and used as an inspiration to effectively recreate the muscles and organs of the human form. Kevin's body was structured from the inside out. All skeletal dimensions and muscle connections had to be precise in order to completely cover Kevin's body in the scene and make his body move properly. Kevin was forced to endure having his body painted with grids and standing still for hours of measurement and scans of his body because no X-rays or catscans were used. Precise pivot placements of joints were needed in order to distribute motion and replicate natural motion compensation. A process called physiquing was used to simulate natural body motion. Overall, some of the problems they had with creating the virtual Kevin was his asymmetrical body and the fact that their rendering techniques could not capture layers of body fat or wrinkles in the skin as well as they had hoped.

Although his character is invisible for most of the movie, Kevin Bacon performed throughout the entire film with the digital effects laid over his image in order to make him invisible. This was done in order to effectively show the side effects in the film scene as a result of Kevin's actions, such as throwing objects or fighting with other characters. Also, this helped the animators in effectively recreating Kevin's performance instead of being forced to portray the character of Sebastian by themselves. No motion capture was used because of its limitations to off-set shooting. They would have been forced to shoot Kevin's sequences on a separate stage and digitally animate all interaction with props and other characters, which would have cost them a lot of extra time and money. The digital effects were added into the film using a process called Rotomation. Kevin was shot wearing special colored suits and makeup in order to more easily lay the special effects over his body.


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