Hollywood Magic: Plastic Surgery with Digital Effects

Ava Lawson | April 11, 2016 | Posted in News

Beautiful Woman's FaceHollywood is all about fantasy: allowing movie-goers to get lost in a world inhabited by otherworldly creatures, talking toys and man-eating dinosaurs. But today’s Hollywood magic has shifted its focus, so to speak. Thanks to amazing advances in CG technology, we can watch aging actors become young before our very eyes, or see the ravages of emaciation on the human form – all accomplished with software and digital effects.

Until fairly recently, actors who wanted to transform their appearance on screen were limited to cosmetics, soft lighting and special filters. Roles that called for ripped muscles spurred actors to diet and train diligently or be faced with the prospect of a body double. Digital programs give filmmakers and TV producers virtually unlimited license to retouch and even completely replace body parts, manipulating reality in both subtle and obvious ways. CG is frequently used to sharpen jawlines, remove blemishes, add a six-pack, or erase wrinkles on your favorite stars.

In fact, digital beauty work is budgeted into most films and shows including the Netflix smash, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, where a 60-something Paul Reubens looks as young as he did in the 1990’s – without plastic surgery.

Digital touch ups a common Hollywood practice

One studio executive recounts an A-list actress who refused computer touch ups, until she saw the final cuts of her male co-stars, who had opted for a little enhancement.  In the end “we did 275 touch-ups on her,” the exec told

Throughout the industry, digital enhancement is completely routine – even on actors and models that are at the top of their game. Lola Visual Effects is one of handful of companies that are contracted to do invisible cosmetic effects that give flawless skin and toned physiques – free of cellulite or lines. Just last year Lola Visual Effects worked on more than a dozen blockbuster films, including Joy, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation and The Big Short.  Before these hits, the company was notorious for aging and de-aging Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button.

In the beginning, the directors at Lola found it difficult to tweak faces, but their techniques changed after hiring a plastic surgeon who provided invaluable insight. The company’s arsenal of beauty enhancements may include virtual dermabrasion to fade out any imperfections or age spots. Another favorite technique known as “mesh warp” rids actors of bulging bits or sagging skin and can even perform a “digital face-lift” to contour jowls or make ears look smaller.

These post-production digital effects, though not cheap, can also save filmmakers precious time. Instead of waiting for an actor to have a baby, drop 20 pounds or gain muscle weight, they can begin shooting immediately and just manipulate the footage later.

Cosmetic enhancements in NYC

In a world heavily influenced by social media and the pressure to look your best at all times, it would be wonderful to have CGI teams at your disposal to edit unflattering selfies and photos. For those who are looking for a more realistic way to turn back the clock or simply refresh their appearance, New York plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas Loeb may offer a better solution. In practice for nearly three decades, Dr. Loeb specializes in anti-aging skin treatments, body contouring and breast augmentation surgery.

To discuss your goals and expectations with a leading cosmetic surgeon, we invite you to arrange a private consultation by calling 212-327-3700.

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