The quantum leap of AI into digital realms – fxguide


Nearly 30 years after leaving the air, the classic Quantum Leap series returns. The original show aired between 1989 and 1993, starring Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who unwittingly jumps through spacetime during time travel experiments. Temporarily taking the place of others to correct what he discovers to be historical errors. The new series with an all-new cast is set thirty years after the events of the original 1989 show.

To help promote the series’ return, NBCUniversal commissioned several original trailers highlighting the time-traveling/body-swapping nature of the story, including one that features the Temple quarterback. of fame and 80s icon Joe Montana in his prime. To help age the legendary football star, Digital Domain has rolled out its advanced proprietary tool: Charlatan. “One of Digital Domain’s most powerful advantages is that our technology can be deployed across multiple industries, regardless of screen size or distribution method,” said Matt Dougan, Digital Domain’s VFX supervisor for the project. “For Quantum Leap, we were able to use the same tools – even the same talented artists – from our Episodic features and groups, to quickly create the most impressive results for any platform.”

The spot featuring Montana was created exclusively as a standalone teaser and begins with revival leader Raymond Lee walking to a football field in San Francisco 1984. Lee then looks in a mirror and is elated to see Montana – as he stared into the 1980 – staring at him. To portray Montana at its peak, Digital Domain worked with production company Moving Parts and spot director Steven Wagner to cast an actor with a facial structure roughly similar to the NFL superstar. They then used a classic special effects trick, which fans of the original series will know, where Lee and Montana’s replacements imitated each other from opposite sides of an open frame. To further enhance this effect, Digital Domain added a layer of dirt and grime in post to break up the reflection and further sell the illusion of a real mirror.

With the founding of the scene, Digital Domain and the director traveled to San Francisco to meet the real Joe Montana and film him doing the same mannerisms and facial movements as his replacement. The VFX team then captured several reference photographs that allowed for a photogrammetric reconstruction of his head, which Digital Domain then used for both head tracking and 2.5D projections.

Once the live footage was collected, the artists began combing through hours of archival footage of Montana recorded between 1984 and 1990. This included video from multiple sources, including old interviews, commercials, game footage and recent original Peacock docuseries, Joe Montana: cool under pressure. Rather than trying to create a Montana CG leader – an expensive, time-consuming and difficult process that would not have been possible under the circumstances – all data, including live and digital images, was then processed by Charlatan.

Developed in-house at Digital Domain, Charlatan was created to give artists a new way to approach complex, photorealistic VFX face work and quickly produce the highest quality machine learning results while simultaneously using less time. resources. For the quantum leap trailer, the artists started by creating a machine learning model in Charlatan to build a digital version of Montana’s face as it looks today. Charlatan then placed the reconstruction over the live footage of the replacement and began the aging process while ensuring the new face blended in seamlessly with the existing footage. The artists then made additional changes, including recreating the hair and traditional compositional techniques to complete the piece.

With the de-aging work done, the Digital Domain team then filled in the rest of the scene with a CG environment, adding the background that appears behind Montana in the mirror. Digital Domain then submitted their work to the production team, who then created the rest of the teaser at that time.

“Having access to Quack means we can do things that simply couldn’t have been done before – at least not at this speed or at this level of quality,” said Matt Smith, Quack Department Supervisor for Digital Domain. . “It always takes a roster of incredibly talented artists to pull off something like aging Joe Montana, but Charlatan offers creative options that just weren’t there a few years ago.”


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