Ed Ulbrich Talks On TED

I am sure most of you already know about the TED talks, which I find to be highly inspirational and always worth a look. Now Thiago and Fitz (thanks guys) found this amazing and brand-new talk by Digital Domain's Ed Ulbrich, taking you step by step through the technological breakthroughs in their process of creating the old Benjamin Button!

It amazes me again and again to see just how many parts and steps go into such visual effects work. The head isn't "simply" created by scanning or tracking Brad Pitt's face. They brought sculptors in, they had to retarget their tracking info onto the digital models, create photoreal lighting setups, and had special assignments for creating the teeth, the tongue, the skin and the eyes.

Or as Ed Ulbrich sums it up: 150 people working for a full two years.

Mr. Ulbrich and his team sure earned their Oscar trophy. And in this talk you can get an even more detailed look on why.

Watch online:
TED.com: Ed Ulbrich: How Benjamin Button Got His Face

Download in 480p quality:


  1. Yep, this movie is a milestone when it comes to digital characters. They raised the bar very high. Now let's wait for Cameron's Avatar ;)

  2. Does Cameron's Avatar use the same technology?
    Or is he using a different approach?

    Can't wait for this DVD, I hope paramount gives us a 3 or 4 disc set with at the bells and whistles.

    Oh yeah and No double dip like the did with Zodiac.

  3. I'm pretty certain that they will be 1 and 2 disc editions of the Button DVD. That's pretty much a standard with major DVD releases these days. And Button being a major tittle they'll most likely release the two versions simultaneously.

  4. I think Cameron is mostly using the same motion control technology that Robert Zemeckis used on his 3D projects. It's not going to be a totally animated film though since several live action elements will still be incorporated. I just hope Cameron doesn't befall the same fate as George Lucas, where a legendary filmmaker publicly declares he has to take a sabbatical until the technology catches up with his vision and upon returning people end up wishing he had just stayed away.

  5. Ronnie is right, it seems they are using the same aproach as Zemeckis. I found one site where it said that they are using Image Metrics for facial performance capture. Fincherfantaic did a post about it some time ago.

    I'm sure the guys at WETA pushed this technology much further. I'm pretty confident that Avatar creatures will blow us away :)

    Don't know if that was posted here already but I also found this interview with Cameron. It's mostly about his career than Avatar (but still inspirational ;) )


    I hope Fincher will soon tryout Cameron's new techology.

  6. I think we can count on a Blu Ray with all the bells and whistles since it keeps cleaning up internationally. *Gotta hand it to those overseas: they know a great film worthy of rabid viewership when they see it* It's now passed the cumulative mark of 300 million that the haters said it wouldn't reach for it to avert "financial disaster" status. True, it's not as wildly profitable as Slumdog which was made for peanuts but it's still a handsome and admirable sum for a project with such unabashed oddness.

    Alien 3: 55(D)/104(F)
    se7en: 100(D)/227(F)
    The Game: 48(D)/61(F)
    Fight Club: 37(D)/64(F)
    Panic Room: 96(D)/100(F)
    Zodiac: 33(D)/52(F)
    CCBB: 125(D)/177(F) - & counting

  7. A Baby Named JesusMarch 3, 2009 at 11:25 AM

    I agree there will probably be two different versions to the DVD.

    The one-disk version is typically released for rental (with people given the option to buy).

    The two-disk version is usually the "collector's edition" which is intended for purchase.

  8. I'm still hoping for something similar to Panic Room 3 DISC set. There is a lot of interesting ground to cover with Benjamin Button; from the matte work, to the coustumes, the score, the cinematography, etc etc.

    The movie was in production for a long time and I'm sure there is plenty of behind the scenes material the would make for a scrumptious DVD.

    I might be in the minority but I would love, love, love to see the longer version of this movie. The full 3 or so hour cut that was originally shown to test audiences.