Audrey Hepburn shines again in new CGI ad

Twenty years after her death, screen legend Audrey Hepburn makes a virtual appearance in a TV commercial for a chocolate bar.

A computer-generated Audrey Hepburn swoons over an Italian gentleman in this cute commercial. Sean Hepburn Ferrer, AMV BBDO, Luca Dotti

No one can play Audrey Hepburn as well as Audrey Hepburn.

Through the magic of computer-generated imagery, the Galaxy chocolate company -- known as Dove outside the U.K. and Ireland -- has brought the deceased movie star back to life for a lovely one-minute commercial by ad agency AMV BBDO and visual-effects company Framestore.

The agency's first attempt at creating an authentic-looking Hepburn failed. The group cast a woman with similar eyes to the iconic star, and through face-scanning technology, digitally captured 70 face muscle movements as well as high-resolution textures from the double.

After extensive filming in an idyllic coastal town in Italy, animators tried to compile the double's eyes with a CGI visage of Hepburn, only to end up with subpar results. AMV BBDO went back to the drawing board as it became clear that only a perfect Hepburn would do.

The 3D team built the model of Hepburn, making use of the star's entire feature film catalog, plus all available press and documentary photographs as reference. However, as there was no technical lens information or measurements available for such old footage, it was quite an inexact science, involving tirelessly tweaking to refine the model from every possible angle.

The next big challenge was the look development process, which aimed to perfect the complex look of human skin. The team chose to adopt a brand new renderer, Arnold, which had not been used on such a big production in commercials before. This renderer was designed to simulate very accurately the tracing of light, and enabled the team to perfect the soft, translucent feel of real skin. Rendering in Arnold, however, also entailed adopting a completely new fur system for her eyebrows and the soft 'peach fuzz' on the face that breaks up the perfection of a raw CG render.

With the new footage put together, a team of four animators worked on re-creating Hepburn's infectious smile; many scenes required frame-by-frame hand animation techniques to finish the job. Check out the results below.

 

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