Twin effects

Today I saw a pair of identical twins walking up Broadway. And in response to this sight I had the oddest thought.

Suppose I wanted to create a science fiction film featuring a race of identical looking people. It would be so much easier if my lead actor or actress was actually a pair of identical twins. That way, I would have no need of expensive high quality matte effects.

If I were careful about how I set up my shots, making sure that no more than two characters were overlapping on the screen at the same time — not a very challenging constraint — then all of the other compositing could be done on the cheap, since people would never be overlapping in the shot

Scenes that would otherwise be difficult or enormously complex to achieve would become relatively straightfoward to shoot and composite together. That would allow more focus on story, character development, all the good stuff.

The use of identical twins to portray a single character is far from a new concept. Among the more famous examples are the Olsen twins playing Michelle Tanner on Full House, and the occasional use of Nicholas Brendon’s identical twin brother Kelly Donovan in some scenes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yet I’m not sure anybody has ever employed a pair of identical twins as a means to create the illusion of an entire race of identical people.

Or have they?

2 Responses to “Twin effects”

  1. Adrian says:

    And, of course, Linda Hamilton’s twin Leslie in a few shots of Terminator 2.

    I vaguely remember an old Twilight Zone where dozens of extras wore not-very-convincing masks that were supposed to look like the lead actor.

    But maybe that’s a simpler trick: Put all the actors in masks, and then your casting requirement reduces to approximately identical body shape and size. Modern masks can be quite good, and your actors will have to go through makeup anyway, so it shouldn’t raise production costs too much.

  2. admin says:

    Hmm, it’s not clear which technique would work better without trying both and comparing the results.

    Maybe we should do a face-off!

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