Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

Children In Need

Feature from 2012

Performing again

Isn't technology wonderful
Anyone watching the UK fund-raising show Children In Need 2012 would have seen the use of the latest technology to bring back Eric and Ernie to a live audience.

Holographic-like projection has been used before to allow artists to ‘perform’ to an audience after their deaths by making it look like they are actually on stage. The effect has some way to go though as it is still discernible as a projection. That said, it can be a very strange experience seeing someone perform when you know they are no longer with us.

To create the illusion, the faces of Eric and Ern were grabbed from existing footage, cleaned up and modified so they could be composited onto live actors. This allowed the faces to match the movement of the actors who played the bodies of Eric and Ern.

Obviously the actors couldn’t drift too far away from the actual movements made by the original duo, so they had to rehearse the routine just like Eric and Ern.

Their movements were motion captured, fed into a computer, the faces of Eric and Ern pasted over the top, movement-matched and finally rendered into the final footage that would be used for the hologram.

Denny Hodge played the body of Eric Morecambe, and when he was an impressionist, Eric was one of his characters. Playing Ernie was Andrew Rothwell, a professional dancer. Both men had to do the routine wearing a green bag over their heads so that the real Eric and Ern faces could be composited later.

The faces were grabbed from recordings in the seventies and had to be modified to fill in the angles not shown by the original footage. Using 3D software, Eric and Ernie’s faces were modelled allowing them to be placed onto the live actors easier.

The whole process took nearly two months to complete, producing just 1 and a half minutes of television in which Eric and Ernie are seen dancing ‘live’ with radio presenter Chris Moyles.

© 2012

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