By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — A new Will Smith movie coming to theaters Friday night uses groundbreaking technology to turn the actor into a younger digital version of himself.

Smith plays two characters in his new action film “Gemini Man,” portraying an elite assassin who goes to war with himself and a much younger assassin.

“It was such a crazy thing when I first saw those initial images, because the images weren’t there on set during the film. So it was probably eight months and then I saw the first images. That first side-by-side, it is just magical what we can do with technology,” said Smith.

That cutting edge technology is 3D filmmaking. It transformed the 51-year-old actor into his 23-year-old self, thanks to the work of 500 visual engineers at Weta Digital, a company based in New Zealand.

The work was intense; “Gemini Man” took two years to make.

Director Ang Lee analyzed hours of footage of a younger Will Smith and used an ultra-high resolution camera and ultra-high frame rate to nail his expressions and facial features down to his skin structure to create a fully animated version that looks realistic.

“This is the first 100 percent digital human. So the process before was de-aging and that’s not what this is,” said Smith.

Lee’s first 3D film was the Academy Award winning “Life Of Pi,” which was praised for its stunning visual effects. This type of technology could set a trend in Hollywood.

“I think what we learn from here, you can apply to many, many things. I think it’s a useful thing, it’s a new tool, new toy,” said Lee. “I would like to see more, how we use this.”

Smith recently took the main stage before a huge audience in San Francisco at TechCrunch Disrupt to discuss the groundbreaking film.

“If the audience emotionally goes with this, it’s endless what the possibilities are,” said Smith.

Gemini Man opens in theaters Friday, October 11th.

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