×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

CSI's Flashback Scenes Were Very Challenging To Create

De-aging actors digitally in films is a fascinating process that has interested viewers ever since 2006's "X-Men: The Last Stand" became the first film to use the technology, creating a younger-looking Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) for a scene that involves the two in the past (via CBR.com). The next film focused on de-aging was "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and — showing how much the technology improved in just two years — it even won an Oscar for its special effects.

Fourteen years later, we've continued to make incredible strides in digital de-aging technology, to the point that films like "The Irishman" and "Gemini Man" can portray an actor as his younger self pretty realistically. Visual effects supervisor Olcun Tan uses an AI tool to chart an actor's facial gestures and movements. "You can ask it to focus on a certain section [of a performer's face] and then track stretching or deforming geometry, and it will create a 3-D version of that," Tan told The Atlantic. "From there, we become able to manipulate it anyway we want."

But filmmakers like Ang Lee and Martin Scorsese have an advantage others don't: millions of dollars at their disposal. "CSI" may be a popular show with viewers, but they have a budget to stick to, and when the show decided to revisit an old case, "CSI" had to get creative.

Fox was nervous about the cast's younger scenes

Season 14, Episode 5 ("Frame by Frame") focuses not only on a case in the present but a cold case from 13 years ago that the team had worked on until it was taken away by Conrad Ecklie (Marc Vann). Throughout the episode, there are flashbacks to the first murder, and obviously to Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), and the rest of the team. Fox was very nervous about the flashback scenes, telling The Killing Times, "it's very, very, very hard, I think to make us all look 14 years younger for a whole myriad of reasons, but it's certainly going to be fun trying."

Because "CSI" doesn't have the budget to use de-aging technology that has been so successful in films, they used other tricks, like shooting in black and white with soft lighting. Fans liked the nostalgia in this episode, especially bringing back the character of Catherine since Helgenberger left "CSI" in Season 12.