“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by Fincher

  • ©David Fincher  Digital Domain, Inc.



    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


Company / Institution / Agency:

  • Digital Domain, Inc.


    For “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, Digital Domain created
    a fully computer-generated 3D head that carried the performance and photo-real likeness of Brad Pitt for 52 minutes of the movie (over 325 shots).

    Digital Domain developed three main systems to create Benjamin’s CG head. The performance system was the most extensive. Instead of relying on traditional marker-based motion capture to bring a live actor’s performance to a digital character, Digital Domain went in a completely different direction and developed a system called emotion capture. First, three maquettes of Brad Pitt, aged 80, 70, and 60, were created and scanned. Then he performed a range of facial expressions while being volumetrically digitized using brand-new technology. That provided a database of every expression that Brad’s face could make. Separately, he performed the role of Benjamin on a soundstage while being shot with multiple digital cameras. The data from Brad performing the facial expressions were matched with the scenes and mapped onto a computer model of Benjamin at the older ages. Digital Domain’s custom rig
    enabled hand animation, but it was built from, and locked to, Brad’s own face, to keep Benjamin’s expressions true to Brad’s face and performance.

    Because precise placement of the CG heads on the live-action bodies was critical to the believability of the character as a whole person, the tracking system was the literal backbone of the process. A new method of shooting on-set using multiple cameras was developed, along with software to
    track the exact movement of the body actor and the camera to place the CG head precisely on the body in 3D space.

    To achieve believability, the CG head also had to be seamlessly integrated into the cinematographer’s richly lit sets and shaded with the proper physical characteristics of human skin, eyes, and hair. Techniques included a lighting system driven entirely by high-dynamic-range set acquisition and approaches borrowed from portrait photography.


    mental ray, NUKE TRACK, Mova/Contour

Additional Contributors:

    Director: David Fincher

    Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Ceán Chaffin

    Visual Effects Supervisor: Eric Barba

    Visual Effects Executive Producer: Ed Ulbrich

    Visual Effects Producer: Lisa Beroud

    Character Supervisor: Steve Preeg

    Modeling Supervisor: Nick Lloyd

    3D Integration Supervisor: Marco Maldonado

    Asset Creation Supervisor: Karl Denham

    Lighting Supervisors: Dan Abrams, Jonathan Litt

    3D Effects Supervisor: Nikos Kalaitzidis

    Compositing Supervisors: Sonja Burchard, Janelle L. Croshaw, Paul Lambert

    Rotoscope/Paint Supervisor: Sarahjane Javelo

    Matte Painting Supervisor: Wei Zheng

    Digital Producer: Natasha Ozoux

    Lead Character Riggers: Jonah Austin, David McLean

    Character Riggers: Tracy Irwin, Adam Glendon Sidwell

    Modelers: Pete Egbers, Kirk G. Mawhinney, Chad Roen

    Junior Modeler: Austin Brown

    Hair Lead: Steve Galle

    Hair Modelers: Mattias Bergbom, Rowsby Ricard, Zack Weiler

    Hair Dynamics: Takashi Kuribayashi

    Animation Lead: Matthias Wittmann

    Animators: James Parris, Dan Patterson, Patrick Perez, Marc Perrera, Tom St. Amand, Andrew Tamandl, Melissa Thompson

    3D Integration Leads: Jesse James Chisholm, Ross Mackenzie, Mike Ramirez

    3D Integration Artists: Timothy Cairns, Francis Camacho, Viki Chan, Megan Dolman, Koji Hamaguchi, Peter Herlein, Nick Jushchyshyn, Gary Laurie, Ryan Lorie, Michael Maker, Jim Moorhead, Ian Northrop, Winfield O’Brien, Alfredo Ramirez, Rene Segura, James Sweeney, David Wu

    Lighting Lead: Bernard Obieta Ceguerra, P.E.

    Lighting Artists: Mike Dalzell, Jeff Dierstein, Juan S. Gomez, Amanda Johnstone, Donna Lanasa, Kamy Leach, Nic Leach, Hoya Lee, David Liu, Chris Norpchen, Mike Roby, Jeremy Sternberg, Marc Toscano, Emerito Trevino

    Matte Painter: Vanessa Cheung

    Texture Paint Lead: Fin Teo

    Texture Painters: Tim Matney, Sathyan Panneerselvam, Stan Seo

    Effects Artists: Atsushi Ikarashi, Phillip Prahl, Thomas Reppen

    Lead Compositors: Eric M. Beaver, Jessica Harris, Michael Melchiorre, Jason Selfe

    Compositors: Dan Akers, Brian Begun, Dan Cobbett, Christina Drahos, Sven Dreesbach, Patrick Ferguson, Michael Harbour, Niles Heckman, Gabriella Kalaitzidis, Jeff Kim, Daryl W. Klein, Kenneth Littleton, Snake Maymudes, Kym Olsen, Marlo J. Pabon, Deborah Wiltman

    Lead Technical Developers: Tadao Mihashi, Masuo Suzuki

    Technical Developers: John Cooper, Frank Gallego, Michael Meckler, Rémy Torre, Casey Vanover

    Paint Artists: Michael Brazelton, Howard P. Cabalfin, Wally Chin, Dan Clark, Viviana Kim, Stephanie Murphy, Vinh Nguyen, Kristen Swanson, Hirofumi Takeda, Keith Weilmuenster, Mattaniah Yip, Niki Yoblonski

    Rotoscope Artists: Maura N. Alvarez, Scott Baxter, John Brennick, Lucinda Chee, Hugo Dominguez, Mark Duckworth, Gilbert Gonzales, Joanna Goslicka, Marlan Harris, Lyndal Heathwood, Lance Ranzer

    Software Developers: Ross Kameny, Dan Milling, Doug Roble, Geoff Wedig

    Previsualization Lead: David Rosenbaum

    Previsualization Artist: Ronald D. Herbst

    Visual Effects Editor: Steven Nevius

    Visual Effects Assistant Editor: Brian Miller

    Visual Effects Coordinator: Charlie Bolwell

    Digital Effects Coordinators: Chris McLeod, Cynthia Richards, Bethany Wilksen, Virginia Wilson

    Assistant Digital Effects Coordinator: Jamie Hartnett

    Color Grader: Christopher Savides

    Digital Production Administrator: Mana Toyoda

    Technical Support: John Ceballos, Chad E. Collier, Patrick Courtnage, Jo Lockman, Natt Mintrasak, Tracy Watada, Peter Wilson

    Visual Effects Accountant: Christopher Rockwell

    Visual Effects Production Assistant: Perry Kain

    Production: Paramount Pictures & Warner Bros. Pictures

Animation / Video Overview: