So, in case you haven't heard, there's a new Pokémon film in the works, and one of Hollywood's biggest stars will be the voice behind Pikachu, the beloved yellow Pokémon. Following the release of the film's first trailer, on Dec. 30, star Ryan Reynolds' Detective Pikachu photo gave fans a sneak-peek of what's been going on behind-the-scenes. And while it may appear as if Reynolds let someone go wild with a Sharpie all over his face, it's actually a pretty cool glimpse at how the movie's motion capture technique will bring the video game's characters to life.
Towards the end of 2017, it was reported that Reynolds had been tapped to play Pikachu in the franchise's first-ever live-action film. At first, some fans were a little confused as to how a "live-action" movie based on a video game would actually pan out, but now that's become a bit more clear.
Detective Pikachu used "motion capture" technology in order to personify its non-human characters. In other words, it's not just animated, it's based on the physical performance from actors. The on-screen technique "is the act of recording an actor's movement and applying it to a 3D character," Motus Digital — a company that specializers in the effect — explained on their official site, "by attaching markers to the actor's body and having them perform on a stage surrounded by Vicon motion capture cameras."
In a split-screen photo posted to Instagram, Reynolds showed fans exactly what that looks like. Spoiler alert: It's not a glamorous process. It actually kind of resembles a bunch of permanent marker-made beauty marks, or like the actor let a kid go wild and draw on his face.
"Pika-dots," Reynolds captioned the snap, followed by the hashtag "#DetectivePikachu." Pika-dots, get it? Like polka-dots, but Pikachu? Oh, Ryan. So funny, so clever.
In the shot on the right, the "Pika-dots" are being used to capture the movements in Reynolds' face, which is made very apparent by Pikachu's sly smile. Seriously, though — look at Reynolds' grin and then look at Pikachu's. They're basically identical. How wild is that?
This is what's partially meant by "live-action" in the instance of Detective Pikachu. Reynolds won't be dressed up in a life-sized Pikachu costume or anything like that, nor will he be wearing a ton of yellow makeup. He'll essentially be lending his mannerisms to the character in order to make it more realistic. There will be real live humans interacting with the live-action video game characters, though, as evidenced by the film's first trailer.
Reynolds shared the first trailer for Detective Pikachu with fans via Twitter back in November, and captioned the clip, "I think we all knew I'd wind up as a miniature detective repeatedly saying the same two words," he wrote. "Just didn't think it'd be this soon. #PikaPika #DetectivePikachu."
It's pretty cool to see how Reynolds' facial expressions translate from scene to scene. From anger, to surprise, to sadness, to the furrowing of Pikachu's tiny little brows, the character totally has Reynolds written all over it.
Honestly, the whole thing looks pretty adorable, and should be packed with plenty of with action, comedy, and fun for the whole family.