How Can A Dead Person Act In A Movie?

November 26, 2019

If you thought special effects were only used to create new worlds or scenes in movies, here’s a reality check! Finding Jack, a movie about Vietnam, will now feature an unexpected actor: James Dean. But wait … James Dean has been dead since … 1955. What?!

In-house publicity still [Public domain]
Worldwide XR, a company that provides computer-generated imagery (CGI) support to the film industry, now has the right to create what they call digital humans. By getting permission from the James Dean family and estate, they will now use animation effects to include his imagery as a character in the movie. While this might seem like a technological marvel to some, not everyone shares the excitement. On one hand, people in the movie industry are worried that CGI and animation might take over the main roles in movies. Would this mean movie characters will be more about animation and graphics than actors and acting? On the other hand, this is already happening. If you watched Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, you might’ve noticed that special effects played an important part in recreating Peter Cushing, the actor who portrayed Grand Moff Tarkin. He had been dead for more than twenty years when Rogue One was made.

Using special effects to create characters still involves understanding roles and actors, which is possible with real actors who are shown with special effects on screen. Technologically, this is an interesting challenge for Worldwide XR, but the question remains, is this a good thing or not?