Yes, Marvel Replaced Thor 4 Kids With CGI If Their Game Was Bad

Sometimes, when it comes to child actors, the outcome can be mixed. Of course, there are success stories like the casting of stranger things, but there are also many that do not work. As far as the MCU goes, one of the most recent child actors to appear on screen was India Rose Hemsworth, aka Love, in Thor: Love and Thunder.

Hemsworth’s love is likely to reappear down the line since it comes from eternity itself.

Another big kid performs in love and thunder was Keiron L. Dryer, who brought Heimdall’s surprise son, Axl, to life. He played the important role of being the key allowing Thor to communicate with the kidnapped children.

However, it looks like there were a few instances of less-than-stellar child performances in Chris Hemsworth‘s latest film – audiences just never got to see them.

Replacing Questionable Child Actors in the MCU

In an interview with Before & After, Weta FX CG Supervisor Jo Davison and Compositing Supervisor Tim Walker spoke about the digital replacement of child actors in Thor: Love and Thunder and what were some of the hardest knocks.

Walker admitted that they “got a better performance from some digi-kids (double CGI of child actors).” But aside from the stage kids, the VFX artist has drawn attention to his work by integrating lighting between stage work and pairing it with upcoming CGI replacements.

To do this, they used what is called match-moving, a technique that allows computer images to intersect in live-action sequences with the correct position, scale, orientation and movement. in relation to the objects photographed in the shot:

“…Sometimes there were kids in the background that we got a better performance from some digi-kids. They were therefore replaced by digi-kids. But what’s cool about the sequence is that each kid was holding an LED gun. So they were rocking them and it gave this unique light interaction to all the characters on the plate. Especially them for close-ups. So there were match-move components for weapons.”

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In reference to the eyes, he noted how they “didn’t need to be very detailed:”

“So the eyes, more of the traditional roto kind[-scoping] approach. Just because of the distance, we didn’t need to go very detailed with the eyes themselves. And then there was a little extra match-moving for any body [tracking] that we needed to add for child heroes, so we always had a matching move to add that work. And that kind of stems from any interactive light we needed. We could give something back, even if it was just some kind of support pass that we could use to track.

Thor: Love and Thunder
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When asked what was the hardest sequence they had worked on or at any particular time, Walker referenced the scene above, revealing that there were sometimes around 50 kids in the frame who had all need to replace their weapons, among others:

“…There are a few shots at the start of the fight where all the kids are fighting. And we touched on the LED weapons and they had to be replaced. And for a few shots, we had about 50 kids in frame at a time. So, the logistics to do the matching and replacement work was quite significant. The roto and painting were also quite involved and quite tricky, but… those two shots probably marked me as the toughest challenge.

Thor: Love and Thunder
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Walker gave props to their “good team of [compositors]”, as well as Angelica Perez Valadez, the “Senior Counter” who worked on these shots:

“We had a good team of [compositors], [Angelica Perez Valadez], our senior friend who was in these shots, gave the impression that it was easy. Lots of hard work, but just from an integration perspective, those are probably the biggest challenges of the sequence.

Thor: Love and Thunder
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Davison shone the spotlight on a different scene: Thor’s new goats flying out of New Asgard. He pointed out how “the rainbow bridge is being built and the goats are running over it” something that was “very difficult… from a rendering point of view:”

“Yeah… so we talked a lot about the battle room plans. But Weta also did some shots in New Asgard where the boat and the goats depart from the dock. So my toughest shot, our toughest moment is actually sitting in that streak. And it’s a shot where the rainbow bridge is being built and the goats are running over it as the boat takes off. And it’s a shot, from a rendering point of view, it’s very difficult.”

But why is it particularly difficult? Well, according to Davison, they had “the glass blocks with an emissive source inside with a path layout:”

“You have the glass blocks with an emissive source inside with a path trace renderer. That’s about as hard as it gets, or just a really nice example of a bunch of departments coming together , and putting their heads together, and figuring out a really tricky problem right at the end of the show. And it’s funny, because I think that’s one of our plans where it was in play right from the start of the show and one of the last plans to come out. And I feel like there’s always one.

Thor: Love and Thunder
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How the MCU handled digital doubles in Love and Thunder

It’s no surprise to hear that some kids were completely substituted if their game wasn’t too good. After all, there were quite a few kids in those climactic action sequences.

It was previously revealed that stars like Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Christian Bale all brought their children to work for the film. Considering the number of children seen on screen, it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to assume that many of the cast and crew may have involved their young ones.

A good chunk of these young actors have probably never acted once in their lives – so being replaced digitally was probably something Marvel Studios figured it might have to do at some point.

Although fans may have issues with Thor: Love and Thunder, most of that grief doesn’t seem to be aimed at the kids in the movie. So it looks like the VFX artists have done a great job of hiding any performance issues, aside from the oft-criticized floating-head graphic for Heimdal’s son.

Thor: Love and Thunder is now streaming on Disney+.

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