Despite the loss of Paul Walker mid-way through production, James Wan’s “Furious 7” managed to come together. In the process, the team behind it managed to finish the film with the help of Walker’s two brothers as stand-ins along with some digital FX trickery from Weta.
How extensive the FX work in those scenes with Walker’s character were hasn’t really been discussed before, Wan himself preferring not to talk about it as he didn’t want people being “fixated on trying to work out which is Paul, which isn’t Paul” according to an interview around the time of the theatrical release.
Yesterday, Variety published a piece exploring how WETA went about recreating the actor’s performance and confirmed that ultimately there are 350 CG shots of Walker in the film – some are quite noticeable, some are not.
Weta Digital senior VFX supervisor Joe Leterri said: “We had to complete a performance – what Paul Walker would have done if he’d been able to continue. And it had to be his performance.” And they had to have close-ups too as “anything else would have shortchanged his performance and the film.”
There were no digital double scans on Walker on file which is what’s normally done for motion-capture. As a result the team used a combination of scans of Walker’s brothers Cody and Caleb along with studying old footage of Walker’s performances and “Furious 7” outtakes – ultimately applying that all to Walker’s digital model. Leterri admits the tech to do this was “barely possible” last year when they did it.