When Paul Walker tragically passed away halfway through filming Furious 7, Weta Digital were called upon to carry out the sensitive task of completing Paul’s performance. Relying on a combination of methods such as referencing previous footage, doing body scans of Paul’s brothers and some meticulous compositing, Weta Digital enabled Paul’s legacy to live on.
Unlike the motion-capture work that Weta had done on earlier films, there were no scans of Walker to create a digital double. So the team went through old footage, building a reference library of Walker as Brian O’Conner by using outtakes from “Furious 7” and previous films in the franchise.
But those moments had been filmed in one lighting environment and the Weta team “essentially had to relight his performance” digitally for each new scene, said Letteri.
Weta visual effects supervisor Martin Hill says the bus sequence got a lot of media attention, but it “paled in comparison to scenes such as Paul sitting still, or delivering dialog in closeup, because you don’t have the action and the kinetic cutting to help distract from the effects.”