This fall new Martin Scorsese’s film came out. “The Irishman” is said to be a great comeback to the most loved genre of Scorsese – dark, crime, mob story. Stars from movies like “Good fellas” including De Niro, Al Pacino or Pesci are also playing now. However one thing has drastically changed, they are really old.
Three main actors are now almost 80 years old. This is a huge problem because in a story they play characters that are much younger. That is why Scorsese needed the help of the artificial de-aging system.
Regular de-aging methods
There are several ways to make actors look younger or older. The most popular include makeup or stuntman. Also, there is a method of de-aging in post-production. However, it comes with many drawbacks. First of all, actors are supposed to wear big helmets or many small objects on their heads. It completely enables them to perform high-quality acting or to be in any way natural. Secondly, actors mostly don’t like working with this equipment and simply don’t agree to take part in a film. Main actors and Martin Scorsese didn’t want to work this way.
Pablo Helman from Industrial Light and Magic decided to help with “The Irishman” de-aging process. The goal was to come up with a new approach without helmets or tracking dots. After many attempts, they finally created a completely new method. Instead of one camera, they were using additional two to capture all possible data about the facial expressions of actors. This way the could create artificial image of an actor in various scenarios and including different lighting or camera movement. Next, they designed a special gear to use it in a practical way, due to enormous weight it was rather difficult. The whole structure was only 2 inches smaller than a regular width of a door. After that, each scene was recreated in special post-production program and this program de-aged actors. Most of the work was done with De Niro as the main character. Also, the program included AI algorithms to recognize the demanded age of an actor and character. Surprisingly not only was changed in actors. Second most import part of the body were hands. There are many scenes were we main characters smoking or showing something in a close-up. That is way hands needed to be de-aged too. In this way, actors almost didn’t feel any change at all and the effects were far better. However to proceed with this method it took much more time and effort than regular ones.