To create photo-realistic digital copies of the actors' faces, Esc had to first invent an ultraprecise facial mapping technique, dubbed "universal capture." Unlike standard motion capture techniques, in which a camera records facial movements by tracking painted-on dots, universal capture uses five Sony CineAlta high-definition digital cameras arrayed around a live, line-reading actor. The cameras zoom in and track minute facial imperfections, like pores or whiskers. The 3-D information then streams from the cameras
(at about one gigabyte per second) into a proprietary suite of computer programs that extract the actors' facial expressions, stretch virtual skin and grow synthetic hair. The results are impressive: In an epic fight scene, 100 clones of the trilogy's main villain, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) battle Matrix hero Neo (Keanu Reeves). Whose face is real is anyone's guess. "I'll be curious to see how many people realize that some faces in the movie are 100 percent computer generated," says Borshukov. "It's going to be a very interesting
psychological experiment for the audience."