Nearly 30 years after leaving the air, the classic series Quantum Leap returns. The original show aired between 1989-1993, starring Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who involuntarily jumps through space-time during experiments in time travel. By temporarily taking the place of others to correct what he discovers are historical errors. The new series, featuring an all-new cast, takes place thirty years after the events of the 1989 original show.
To help cement the series’ comeback, NBCUniversal has commissioned several original trailers highlighting the time travel/body-switching nature of the story, including one that features a Hall of Fame section and ’80s icon Joe Montana in its prime. To help undo the age of the legendary soccer star, Digital Domain has published its own advanced proprietary tool: Charlatan. “One of the strongest advantages of the digital domain is that our technology can be deployed across multiple industries, regardless of screen size or distribution method,” said Matt Duggan, VFX Digital Domain Supervisor for the project. “For Quantum Leap, we were able to use the same tools – even the same talented artists – from our showcase features and collections, to quickly create the most impressive results for any platform.”
Created exclusively as a standalone teaser, the venue features recovery leader Raymond Lee heading toward a soccer field in San Francisco in 1984. Lee then looks in the mirror and is delighted to see Montana – looking back in the 1980s – staring at him again. . To film Montana in its heyday, Digital worked with production company Moving Parts and location manager Stephen Wagner to get a look at an actor with a face structure almost similar to the NFL star. Then they used the classic special effects trick, one that fans of the original series will know, where Lee and Montana mimics each other from opposite sides of an open frame. To enhance this effect, the digital sphere added a layer of dirt and grime in the prism to break up the reflection and further sell the illusion of a real mirror.
With the onset of the scene, the digital sphere and director headed to San Francisco to meet and photograph the real Joe Montana making the same facial behaviors and movements as his stance. The visual effects team went on to capture several reference images that enabled the pictorial reconstruction of his head, which was then used by Digital Domain for head tracking and 2.5D projections.
Once the live action footage was collected, the artists began sifting through hours of archival footage of Montana recorded between 1984 and 1990. This included videos from multiple sources, including old interviews, advertisements, game footage, and a recent original Peacock documentary series, Joe Montana: Cold under pressure. Instead of trying to create a CG head in Montana—a costly, long, and difficult process that would not have been possible under the circumstances—all the data, including live action footage and digital frames, was run by Charlatan.
Developed in-house in the digital realm, Charlatan was created to give artists a new way to handle complex and realistic VFX facial work, quickly producing top machine learning results while using fewer resources at the same time. to me Quantum leap Trailer, the artists began creating a machine learning model in Charlatan to create a digital version of Montana’s face as it looks today. Charlatan then placed the reconstruction over the live-action footage of the standby pose and began the process of removing aging while ensuring that the new face blended seamlessly with the existing footage. The artists then made additional modifications, including re-creating the hair, and traditional texturing techniques to finish the piece.
After completing the de-aging work, the Digital Sphere team filled in the rest of the scene with the CG environment, adding the background that appears behind Montana in the mirror. The digital domain then sent their work to the production team, who then created the rest of the teaser at that moment.
“Having access to Charlatan means we can do things that couldn’t be done before – at least not at this speed or quality level,” said Matt Smith, Supervisor of the Juggler’s Department of Digital. “It still takes a list of incredibly talented artists to pull off something like de-aging Joe Montana, but Charlatan provides creative options that didn’t exist a few years ago.”