The answers may surprise you.
Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner was, for many, the heart and soul of the Fast and Furious franchise. Sure, Vin Diesel was the testosterone fueled muscle car driving head of the group that constantly talked about the importance of family… but Brian was the everyman just trying to survive the day. He was very much the audience surrogate, their entrance point into these stories as a regular guy caught up in larger than life events.
However, as most of you know Paul Walker died in late 2013 before production on Furious 7 could be completed. His tragic passing not only deprived us of a father, an actor, and a philanthropist, but it also left the production with a serious logistical problem: how would they finish Paul Walker’s performance?
The answer, as we all know, was to bring in his brothers as stand ins and use state of the art CGI to recreate Paul Walker’s performance as best they could. The results are overall impressive, though some shots are more noticeable than others. In some scenes when he was relegated to long shots, it became obvious. However, there were some shots that went completely unnoticed.
Just how many shots were CGI?
According to Variety Weta worked on 350 shots.
They used the aforementioned assistance of Walker’s brothers for body doubles and grafted Walker’s face compiled from outtakes from Furious 7 and previous installments of the franchise… though that required tweaking the lighting on his face in computers.
So, which shots were CGI?
A reddit user named RiseDarthVader compiled a full list, but here are some highlights.
The more obvious ones from long shots:
The very tasteful moment at the end, which we all kind of knew was CGI but didn’t care:
But there are also other moments which we’re willing to bet you didn’t notice at all, such as shots in Brian’s conversation with Dom on the plane:
Or the end of the fight with Tony Jaa in the third act:
It’s all very impressive work overall.
How difficult was it to do?
According to Weta Digital senior VFX supervisor Joe Letteri claims the recreation of Paul Walker would have been impossible a mere five years ago, “It was barely possible last year when we did it.”
The digital models were painstakingly rendered and required a lot of overtime. They had to get his hair right, including how it changed based on wind conditions, as well as blood flow in his skin. They were so exacting, “they even worked to make sure he blinked in character.”
It’s an incredibly commendable job in extenuating circumstances.