When Joanna Cassidy appears in new scenes for Ridley Scott’s re-release of “Blade Runner,” she’ll look just the way she did when she co-starred in the sci-fi classic some 25 years ago.
That’s because Hollywood has found its fountain of youth: LolaFX, which specializes in “digital cosmetic enhancement.”
With the aid of a super-high-definition 4K workstation and a 22-foot-screen, Lola specializes in everything from cleaning up a star’s acne to raising an ingenue’s neckline to putting six-pack abs on an out-of-shape action hero.
As a result, much of its work is kept hush-hush.
But the revised “Blade Runner” and other projects have made it all but impossible for the company to hide its bag of tricks.
For his upcoming “Director’s Cut” of “Blade Runner,” Scott is getting to finally shoot scenes that were dropped in 1981 because the production ran out of money.
Lola also tweaked the infamous “unicorn dream” shot that was cut from the 1982 release, over Scott’s objections. Scott’s team back then crafted “a good prosthetic makeup job to create the unicorn’s horn, but it wobbles a bit, so it looked like a Halloween costume,” says John Scheele, the visual effects supervisor for the restoration.
In addition to fixing the horn, Lola also took out scratches and dirt from the only surviving print of the shot after the negative went missing.
Lola’s people say their efforts are helped by the new 4K room and its 22-foot-screen, which lets artists spot details invisible on a desktop monitor.
“Not only did it start to improve the quality of the work but the artists really started to depend on it,” says Lola visual effects supervisor Edson Williams.
Lola’s anti-aging efforts are most prominent in a series of DirecTV commercials, in which they matched the current close-ups of Sigourney Weaver and Charlie Sheen with footage from 1986’s “Aliens” and 1989’s “Major League,” respectively.
In the case of James Cameron‘s “Aliens,” they had to match Weaver’s appearance now with then, and then composite the shot into backgrounds from the film.
“The moving cameras, spinning lights and the stuff that Cameron used in the original film made it harder to match,” says another vfx supervisor, Greg Strause.
The “Major League” spot was a more subtle challenge. Sheen was 23 when the film was shot and is 42 now, but he’s actually lost weight since then.
“We made his pecs larger, added some muscle mass, and we gave him a better tan,” Williams says.
Sheen was fine with it, but says, “I wish they’d digitally enhanced my fastball back into the mid-80s, where it was during production.”