In Legend, Tom Hardy plays Ronnie Kray and Reggie Kray, twin brothers who were key gangsters in London during the 1950s and 60s. Having Hardy take on both characters meant that visual effects – via splitscreens and face replacements – would be required to help sell the illusion, a task undertaken by Nvizible under VFX supe Adam Rowland. “The filmmakers wanted to approach the twin shots fairly traditionally,” says Rowland, “but there were some sequences where they had to interact and even fight each other. Still, they never wanted it to be a gimmick that Tom was playing both characters so we kept the approach as real as possible.”
Splitscreens are, of course, the oft-used method to place the same actor from different takes in one shot. On Legend, splitscreens were mostly utilized in static shots, with just a few done with motion control. Rowland explains the splitscreens methodology:
1. The most important thing to get right is eyelines. What would happen quite a lot of the time is Tom would have his stunt double who would play the other twin in a take. Tom would deliver his side of the performance as one character and the double would play the other character. They would record this dialogue so that when Tom went off to get changed he would have that in his ear piece to listen to so he would know what to listen to. But sometimes the double or whoever Tom was supposed to be looking at would shift in position slightly so his eyeline is occasionally off, so we had to tweak that slightly.
2. We would sometimes shoot one side without the double and we’d shoot him looking at a tennis ball. There’s a long shot where they’re in a pub and Ron is behind the bar and he’s polishing a glass and Reg is on the other side chatting to someone else. It was done in a slightly strange way. There had to be interaction between Ron and this other guy who gets glassed by Ron, and Reg is in the background quite prominently just watching it.
3. We recorded Ron and the other guy getting glassed first. The guy who is being glassed is running the scene in terms of dialogue, so when we recorded the other side with Reg, it was very important that he was looking at the right place. Throughout the sequence, the guy shifts position quite a lot – leaning forward, backwards, drinking – and at one point he gets glassed and falls back. We had to construct this very strange contraption with tennis balls that had numbers on them.
4. And then certain beats, so we could say to Tom when the other guy says this he’s standing at this tennis ball and when he says this he’s standing at a different tennis ball. So Tom would have to look at slightly different directions throughout the sequence in order for the eyelines to work.
5. Then on the compositing side, because of the nature of where they were standing, we would try and change the eyes a little bit but that can end up looking odd. So we would scale the characters a little bit, if there was a two shot you could actually cut one out and scale them a little bit and it would fix the eyeline problem.
Where splitscreens were not possible, such as in the fight sequence, Nvizible was able to realize shots featuring both Kray twins on screen via Tom Hardy face replacements. Rowlands breaks down the process:
1. Firstly, we were able to get a cyberscan of Tom, a 3D model of his head and a decent texture of his face. We also had him for a short period time to film some greenscreen elements.
2. We made sure that the editorial team had had a chance to look at all of the shots in the sequences that they thought would require face replacements. They gave us Quicktimes of all of these sequences.
3. We would stabilize the faces and have them displayed on a screen for Tom to look at. We then shot him in a greenscreen studio for both characters, although a lot of them were for Reg. Tom would have the motion of the actor to look at, and then we shot that at 96 fps so that it was not important he hit every moment at exactly the right time, but as long as he hit the positions in the right order we could then re-time the element and track it onto the face. We’d do re-times to make it work by tracking them on in 2D.
4. The problem with some of them was that we didn’t have an opportunity to do bespoke lighting for each sequence, so we lit him pretty flat just so he would fit in most of the environments then we would do some post re-lighting using the cyberscanned face.
5. In the fight sequence, because it’s so fast and motion blurred, there are a lot of very short shots. So it was more forgiving. Sometimes we could use the cyberscanned head to re-project some greenscreen elements of the specific faces and movements onto the double’s motion. In the fight sequence we had to replicate a lot of the sweat and tonality of his skin, the shift on the subsurface and on the stubble.