What is De-Ageing? And how VFX studios are leveraging it to create younger looking actors

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What is De-Ageing? And how VFX studios are leveraging it to create younger looking actors

The de-ageing process is absolutely fascinating if you get it right or it can be glaringly devastating.

Flashbacks can be tricky. It’s tough to make an older actor to suddenly transform into a teenager. That is the magic of De-Ageing technique, a process of using CGI to make a person appear much younger than their years. It is a pure genius artwork to be saying the least. Directors used to hire younger actors who looked similar to play the parts but now, thanks to the magic of CGI, the stars can just play themselves and be magically de-aged.

Hollywood seems hell-bent on de-aging its stars. It’s something that has slowly been creeping its way onto “the reel world” over the years. We first really saw it used in X-Men: The Last Stand back in 2006, but for the first time it really blew people away was in the 2015 Marvel film; Antman. In this, we see a flashback of a fresh-faced Michael Douglas angrily resigning from S.H.I.E.L.D. This technology is now spreading out to other films and becoming a much more commonly used tool.

But how is this actually done?The industry leader in “beauty work” is Lola Visual Effects; the company that used de-ageing in film, showing an aged Brad Pitt up and down in Benjamin Button and Chris Evans in Captain America. Lola VFX also handled Douglas’ de-aging in Antman, the actual tools haven’t changed, and it’s more that the artists are getting more experienced in doing it. Lola VFX also did the digital de-aging for films such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and also put Chris Evan’s head on a small, skinny body in Captain America: The First Avenger.  The most important thing about the de-aging VFX technology was to ensure that no anti-aging makeup was used on the actor because it changes the way the light affects the face. In 2015, Lola worked on 14 films, including The Big Short, Joy, and Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. This technology does a complete digital dermabrasion which involves removing any age spots or imperfects, and reducing “eye bags,” too.  A technique called “mesh warp” is used to tighten sagging skin or bulging flab, and perform a “digital face-lift” to trim jowls and areas like earlobes and noses that grow larger with age, while meticulously relighting every pixel. Throughout the industry, such work is “completely routine”. Such effects can fix bad wigs, or work like Clearasil.

Lola VFX is the post-production house that has delivered this magnificent work for this MCU’s last venture in its Phase 2 theatrical outings. In the world of visual effects, Lola specialises in “visual cosmetics,” which can range from secret touch-ups to complete physical transformations.

De- Ageing is really an astonishing effect and is something that will only evolve and get more realistic over time. The digital revolution has begun but there is more to it where anything will be possible and what you will see next will be something you haven’t imagined in your wildest dreams.