Reimagining Total Recall
In the sequence when Quaid (Colin Farrell) discovers his hand has some kind of telecommunications device under the skin, The Senate was tasked with creating a variety of techniques. The device activates and Quaid is instructed to press his hand up against some glass. When he does this, it activates a video display where he can see his caller. "The prosthetic used during production required cleanup and a complete paint out of the dial when it is not active," recalls The Senate's Richard Higham, the visual effects supervisor. "We received some graphics to use and worked up a look to make it appear as if the graphics and video were resonating from the glass itself. The look was enhanced by adding video noise effects and a unique transparency as well as s sense of dimension by using a dual layer method."
The graphics themselves had a basic animation which then had to be broken up and manipulated to match Quaid's actions. The additional work done in this sequence was to maintain the future style look of New Asia. Several green screens were replaced with digital matte paintings which were broken up and recycled to work at different angles depending which way the camera was pointing. Additional video display against glass was done for when Quaid's enemy also had dialogue with a caller -- this time against one of the future bike windshields. The look had additional breakup by using rain droplets to distort the image. Multiple holograms were added in the backgrounds to maintain consistency with other sequences.
One of the main sequences was in Reed's apartment. Quaid inadvertently activates an interactive hologram display. It is a prerecorded three-dimensional hologram of his head, able to respond to certain questions. The Senate was provided green screen plates of Farrell's upper body, shot in a 180-degree array of 18 x Canon 5D HD cameras as well as the Red Epic camera. They then went about developing a look by using a 3D model of Farrell's head.
"The main function was to be able to translate the locked off green screen plates to the live action, allowing for freedom of camera movement as well as angle," Higham continues. "The green screen heads were individually tracked using PF Tracks Object Tracking function and then exported and applied to the 3D geometry. In some cases, that green screen was then re-projected back onto this animating geometry and rendered through the live action moving camera. The process represented many technical challenges as any slight inaccuracy in the object track would be very noticeable and destroy the illusion. To ensure the mesh moved exactly as Farrell did, areas of deformation were painted to the geometry so that the tracking software could allow the amount of muscle movement, especially around the mouth during dialogue. The same CG head then had additional video style scan lines projected onto the head which would follow the contours, adding to the sense of dimension. Where the 3D technique was not required, the green screen head was projected onto 2D cards within Nuke, but still with the added 3D renders of scanlines and interference.