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Visual Effects Times Three
Portraying the three main characters in the film meant that Murphy would appear in many scenes with himself. This bit of movie magic needed to be finalized in post-production and there were a few different ways that it could be accomplished.

As visual effects producer Les Hunter explains it, "In some cases we utilized traditional split-screen photography which we've all seen. For instance, on one day Eddie is on the left side of the screen as Norbit, and on the next day we film him as Rasputia on the right side of the frame. And so, we do a split-screen line down the middle and you get both performances there.

"In other cases, we used green-screen technology to composite him into the shots. Lastly, and we're doing a lot of this for this film, is utilizing head replacement or face replacement.”

The filmmakers, stunt coordinator, costumer and visual effects team had to work together to make the right choice for each shot. Again, planning was of the utmost importance.

"We would listen and try to give Brian everything he asked for and everything he wanted.” comments Hunter. "We would sit down with him and the other producers and talk about each scene. Then we'd take each storyboard, break those down, in terms of our best approach to completing each shot. And if we ever hit a wall or something that was some kind of constraint, we'd sit down and we'd talk about our options.”

Then it is up to the visual effects artist to go in and finesse each image, by hand and with great attention to detail, smoothing over and blending each frame. As Hunter explains, no matter how advanced the technology, the human touch is still necessary.

But even with careful planning, everyone knows that part of filmmaking is always to expect the unexpected. And such was the case on "Norbit.” 

"Ultimately, you have to be ready to go with the flow,” Hunter acknowledges.

"Things don't always work out every day the way you expect. Maybe the lighting conditions change or the time you have to shoot something doesn't always go as planned. So there were instances when we would change something that was going to be a split-screen shot into a green screen composite or something that we thought was going to be composites, we decided to make this a head replacement. Eventually, we got into a rhythm, and as the show went along, we learned our system a little bit better and better.”


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