Captain America, Lord of The Rings and The Social Network have each used a technique where an actor has either been shrunk down (Captain America & LoTR) or completely replaced by a face (Captain again & Social Network).

My question is what kind of planning and production goes into pulling off this kind of feat? I am wondering about the specific technologies are used for what seems to be either camera tricks or CGI, using these movies as examples.

Is it pure CGI on all levels? Is it all camera tricks with minor CGI? Or is it a nice synergy between the two?

  • 2
    In the case of LoTR, I happen to know that particular shot was filmed by a motion-control camera in multiple passes (the breakdown is in some of the special features). The movies also made extensive use of body doubles (short people, tall people) and in-camera tricks (ie the hobbits farther from the camera than a taller person supposedly in the same plane), as well as some digital work. Commented May 2, 2012 at 20:14
  • I'm not sure to what exactly make off your question, it's a bit vague to me. What I can tell you (don't know if it answers your Q a bit) is that many movies make use of greenscreens (or blue or sometimes other colours) which they filter out in video-effect software. A person standing in front of this green screen can then be cut, pasted into a scene, and altered separately (such as resizing).
    – paddotk
    Commented May 12, 2012 at 2:43
  • 1
    @TylerShads: Will u help me jog my memory and point out to some specific scene(s) in The Social Network which u are talking about.....
    – Sayan
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 13:24
  • @KeyBrdBasher The fact that the Winklevoss was 2 different actors with one actor having been altered to be a twin throughout the whole movie.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 13:28
  • Didnt knw tht! Thx
    – Sayan
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 7:20

2 Answers 2


I know for LOTR, the long scenes in the house of Bilbo, they actually made two versions of it. One small one, and one big one. In the small one Gandalf would be too big, and in the other one Bilbo would be extremely small.

Using digital effects, and other techniques mentioned in the comments, these two can be merged together to get the effect they were after.

I also noticed in the extended edition of the Return of the King, that in the final scene were Frodo leaves, you clearly see body doubles walking towards the boat (proportions are different, they are clearly kids instead of adults).


In The Social Network, Armie Hammer plays both of the Winklevoss twins utilising a method that allowed the on screen presence to be recorded with a body double (Josh Pence) with Armie's face subsequently digitally replaced over the top for scenes with both twins present.

Here is a video detailing the process a little bit.

Director David Fincher further explains;

Hammer played the main twin in each shot. For shots that included both twins at the same time, Pence stood in for the second twin; Hammer later went into a studio, where he strapped his head into a harness to film that twin’s face and voice, which was then digitally superimposed over Pence’s face in the film. The result is a sort of hybrid actor with Hammer’s head and Pence’s body. Intricate split-screens and rotoscoping were also used for some shots. Piece of cake, right? “After Benjamin Button, you go, ‘It can be done,’” says Fincher. “Give us a case of Red Bull and a weekend, and we’ll figure this out.”

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