How Benjamin Button Got His Face

Digital-effects guru Ed Ulbrich unveils the making of the digital head that sits on the broad shoulders of Brad Pitt as he ages backwards in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

It took Ulbrich and an Oscar-winning team of 155 people at Digital Domain two years to create a visualization drawing on a 3D database of every movement Brad Pitt's face is capable of doing. Ulbrich calls the technique “emotion capture,” with the actor's idiosyncrasies translated onto a digital head and working in harmony with the rest of his body.

In this eighteen-minute talk from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Ulbrich explores elements of photo-real digital humans, in a curious way an eye into the imagination of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his 1921 short story on which the movie is based.

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