I’ve compiled a list of the Top CGI heads and faces used in movies that I consider to be the best. Keep in mind, none of these are perfect, but they are closest to date of looking real.
CGI Arnold from Terminator Salvation #5:
Terminator Salvation was known as being one of the lackluster sequels in the Terminator Series, although it wasn’t too bad. This is the most unrealistic looking of my top five. I felt that you could tell it was a computer generated human being and didn’t really have enough life.
CGI Jeff Bridges from Tron Legacy #4:
Tron Legacy had geeks anticipating the computer generated younger version of Jeff Bridges character CLU. It was very impressive at times and well done for the time period. Some of the animation felt off and at times the head took on a waxy appearance. I found that under certain lighting conditions such as the image of him furthest to the right, he looked more realistic.
CGI Brad Pitt from Benjamin Button #3:
The computer generated old age head of Brad Pitt’s character Benjamin Button suffers from the same fate as the young head of Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy. At times it looked real and at times it looked like it was made of wax. Again, the lighting played a key role for the all the times it looked more realistic. I think it looks far more real on the right than the other images. I would also say it beats out Tron Legacy as there are far more different lighting conditions in Benjamin Button that they had to match. The more times you see it matched to different real world light, the more real it will look in my opinion.
CGI Paul Walker from Fast and Furious 7 #2:
The Paul Walker CGI is very well done. In fact, its so well done, its hard to tell when they used it at certain parts in the movie. The above shots are all cgi heads. They did an excellent job with the facial expressions.
CGI Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator Genisys #1:
The young Arnold Schwarzenegger that appears in Terminator Genisys looks incredible. It is one the best, most realistic CGI human beings I’ve seen in a movie. They matched everything as close as possible to the 1984 Arnold from The Terminator. You know they did a good job when audiences couldn’t tell if it was footage used from the original movie or an effect.
In conclusion, I think mostly the animation and lighting plays a key role in making these effects look more real. If the lighting has no shadows, the eye can pick up on the cg skin shader effects. If the animation is moving the muscles in the face and it’s too smooth, it will add to the wax like appearance of the cgi heads.