One of the best sci-fi movies of the last 10 years — if not all time — is “Ex Machina,” about a programmer (Domhnall Gleason) who is tasked with seeing if an advanced robot is capable of true human consciousness and connection. The robot has the form of a human woman and is named Ava, brilliantly played by Oscar-winning actor Alicia Vikander. The only parts of Ava that are fully human in appearance are “her” face and hands, with the rest consisting of circuitry, metal, and other synthetic material.
Ava isn’t just Vikander in a robot outfit, however. Digital effects were needed to erase portions of Vikander’s body, as parts of Ava are transparent and others consist only of wires. Although she was essentially a computer-generated character when all was said and done, Vikander filmed her scenes in person, with the rest done in post-production. In total, about 800 shots of Ava and various other robots and tech had to be digitally edited or enhanced in some way, with $5 million of the movie’s budget reportedly devoted to that alone. It wasn’t all spent on just Ava, but a large amount of it certainly was.
The effect is as convincing as it is stunning, winning the movie an extremely well-earned Oscar for visual effects despite tough competition from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “The Revenant,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “The Martian.”