Here’s what it’ll take to digitally remove Henry Cavill’s mustache for ‘Justice League’

The craziest news from the past week by far was when we learned that Henry Cavill has to keep the mustache he grew for Mission Impossible 6 while he films the Justice League reshoots. This made for a lot of funny jokes and memes online, but one group of people who probably aren’t laughing are the visual effects artists who will now have to digitally remove Cavill’s mustache from Justice League.

Business Insider caught up with award winning visual effects company The Mill to find out exactly what the Justice League VFX artists will need to do to  give Cavill a digital shave. Anne Trotman, Lead 2D Artist, and Dave Fleet, the Head of 3D at The Mill gave some fantastic insight. And right off the bat, it turns out digitally removing facial hair is a pretty common task in the VFX industry.

“Yes! It’s very common to be asked, particularly on beauty projects. Sometimes celebrities might be shooting a commercial, but need to keep their facial hair for a film, so can’t shave on set. Also for different global markets these days some clients need alt versions,” Trotman explained.

So how hard is it? Fleet explained the process from a 3D perspective.

“Smoothing out tiny vellus hairs on the skin requires a totally different approach to removing a large volume of hair, like a beard or mustache. If we were to remove a beard we would have to digitally re-build the actor’s face behind the hair mass. We would need to build a 3D model of the face and then shade the surface of the skin to look realistic. We would then need to track the 3D model to the movement of his head and potentially re-animate his mouth. The amount of lip animation would depend on how much of the original beard occluded his lips. We would need to paint out the parts of the beard that extend beyond his shaven face.”

The good news is Warner Bros. already has 3D models of Cavill’s Superman, so they won’t need to waste any time (or money) working on that. However, it’s still going to take a lot of work to remove his mustache. It would take about six weeks to edit a mustache out of a one minute clip, and approximately 25 weeks to edit a mustache out of a five minute clip, according to Fleet.

Mission: Impossible 6 director Christopher McQuarrie released a statement about Henry Cavill’s mustache controversy, saying that it’ll become clear why they can’t just use a fake one when fans see the movie. I’m guessing Cavill is involved in an extreme stunt, possibly even underwater, where a fake mustache would easily fall off.

SOURCE: Business Insider (via Heroic Hollywood)