Here's How Marvel Created Young Robert Downey Jr. For Captain America: Civil War

Monday, 16 May 2016 - 10:38AM
Marvel
Captain America: Civil War
Monday, 16 May 2016 - 10:38AM
Here's How Marvel Created Young Robert Downey Jr. For Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War was loaded with genuine 'wow' moments, but not all of them were related directly to the superpowered battles and explosions that dominated the movie. One Civil War moment that got fans talking was the appearance of a teenage Tony Stark conversing with his late parents. Narratively speaking, this was a fairly important moment, but more than anything we all just wanted to know how the heck they managed to create an almost perfectly lifelike young RDJ.

Interestingly, this de-ageing of the charismatic Tony Stark was actually carried out by the same VFX studio responsible for Brad Pitt's many different appearances in Benjamin Button, Lola VFX. In a new interview, Lola's Trent Claus revealed the lengths they go to to ensure a digital RDJ is just as lifelike as the real thing.


Rather unsurprisingly, it was Lola who were also responsible for de-ageing Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, and it was their work in last year's movie that helped make Civil War's young RDJ showstopper. But, just because it's been done before, that doesn't mean it's easy. As Claus reveals, the process is akin to photoshopping frame after frame of footage, ensuring that every facet of the digitally recreated face looks as lifelike as possible.

Opening quote
"Every feature of the face and body needed to be addressed in some fashion," Claus told THR. "One thing that happens to all of us is that the skin of the face gradually lowers in certain areas, and needs to be 'lifted' back to where it was at the age in question. But other changes are incredibly subtle, such as increase in the way light reflects off the sheen of the skin, a reduction in the appearance of tiny blood vessels under the surface of some parts of the face, or more blood flow in the cheeks giving them that familiar youthful 'glow.' "
Closing quote

But before you even get to that stage, you need a base with which to work with. Instead of working from scratch, RDJ actually performed every one of his young doppleganger's scenes, giving the folks at Lola a base with which to work in. For reference, that was actually a whopping 4,000 frames that had to be painstakingly altered and cared for. Many of those frames also included a lot of interaction with real-life actors, as well as a lot of movement in general.

Understanding that an actor as famous as Downey Jr. has a lot of fans, Claus and left no stone unturned in order to ensure they did the actor's younger self justice.



Opening quote
"Additionally, when working with the appearance of a well-known actor such as Robert Downey Jr., there is the added pressure of living up to the youthful appearance that audiences remember. In this case, we analyzed footage of Mr. Downey at the approximate age that we wanted to target, which was around the time of the film Less Than Zero [when Downey was in his early 20s]."
Closing quote

If you've seen Civil War, but you weren't familiar with some of RDJ's earlier work, a quick look at the gif above will show you that Claus and his team nailed their difficult task.
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Marvel
Captain America: Civil War

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