Rhythm & Hues...Dr. Dolittle 2
I found a pic of some film FX I did on the film Dr. Dolittle 2, and thought it would be cool to show and explain the process of replacing animal's mouths digitally. In 2001 I worked in L.A. for a very pretigious film FX company called Rhythm and Hues. They are a great company who treats their staff amazingly well. I really enjoyed my time on this film, and I did about 26 shots on this project in a department called 'Matchmove'. As a Matchmover, we were supplied the raw filmed footage and then, with the corresponding 3D model, we track the motion of the 3D model frame by frame, to the exact motion of what was in the footage. In this case it was a racoon who was going to be talking to Eddie Murphy who was filmed at a previous date and inserted digitally in post. So, a frame at a time, I would take 'marker nodes' in the 3D software and set them on the live action racoon's face based on areas of high contrast. Then flip the frames to see if they would stick, or track to the motion of the racoon. After setting up about 10-12 decent marker nodes, I would then align the 3D model of the racoon's face to the same position as the live-action racoon on frame one, move my marker nodes until they intersected the model I had placed over, and BOOM!...hopefully it would be a perfect match and then the model's mouth could then be animated to the voice. VERY time consuming, and patience-developing work! So next time you see a movie where an actor is added to a 3D set, and his feet slip on the ground, or a shot where an animal talks and the mouth seems to jitter or not look attached properly, this is an example of BAD tracking! The above pic is an example of what you would see in the software as you add markers and fit the model over the live action plate. Top pic, final comp frame with fake mouth...bottom pic, the 3D model.