Watchmen’s VFX artists have revealed how they created Looking Glass’s mask. The talented team had an impossible task on their hands in making Tim Blake Nelson look like he was walking around with a literal mirror on his face. Well, that’s what showrunner Damon Lindelof asked of Erik Henry and his team of VFX artists. At first, there were plans to ask one of the costume designers, Meghan Kasperlik, if there was some sort of real-world material that could get it done. But, to their chagrin, it was going to take some ingenuity. In a conversation with IndieWire, the Emmy-winning artist walked them through a long journey to create the perfect reflection.
“So we came up with a CG mask, but that meant we had to shoot a scene twice: once for the performance of Looking Glass and then a second time for all the people around him reflected in the mask,” Henry explained. “And I thought there was no way that production was ever going to let us do that. So I went to MARZ and said, ‘We have to find a way to use something like a GoPro on a headlamp with an elastic band.’ They tried the GoPros, but you couldn’t stabilize them and it would blur everything.”
“Then Damon and I wanted it to be a mask with wear and tear, and so we had MARZ create a surface that had some flaking,” he added, “as if you were seeing a silk screen shirt that was stretched… And when you see it up close in the interrogation pod, there are some shots where it looks real. Blake first wore a mask on set made of green screen material and then later we just went for a mo-cap style gray fabric with geometric shapes for the second half of the shoot.”
Other parts of the interview describe finding the perfect camera to both capture the world from that vantage point, and to allow the CG manipulators to make the effect believable. Whatever they came up with worked, because a lot of viewers didn’t know that the Reflectitine wasn’t a real mask until after the show had concluded. Nelson has been on record since the show ended about how much Watchmen has resonated. He really enjoyed being Wade, even if it meant having a camera strapped to his head with elastic for a lot of it.
Did you think Looking Glass’s mask was real when you started Watchmen? Let us know in the comments!