In the opening scenes to the new Disney Channel teen movie Prom Pact, some eagle-eyed viewers noticed a bizarre detail: Fake background extras who look like Sims.
Going viral on TikTok thanks to a clip posted by TikToker @kelseykid_, a screencap from this scene also spread on Twitter, showing a group of high schoolers watching a cheerleading routine. Most of the extras sitting on the bleachers look normal (i.e. like living human beings), but four are pretty obviously computer-generated.
These CGI characters are only visible for a few seconds, filling a row of seats behind some regular actors. Their stilted movements and impassive facial expressions are obvious when you look for them—but most viewers probably didn’t notice they’re there.
super excited to watch Prom Pact on Disney+ and then saw this 😵💫😵💫😵💫 still gonna watch it though.♬ Oh my god what is that – Funny memes
Commenters on TikTok speculated about possible reasons for using fake extras, such as Covid-19 safety measures or budgetary concerns. Others accused Disney’s Descendants franchise of doing something similar.
However, these theories about cost-cutting or covid-related social distancing don’t really make sense, because the rest of the crowd is made up of real actors. In other shots in the same scene, we see extras and lead actors sitting side-by-side on crowded bleachers. No one seems to have spotted CGI characters appearing elsewhere either.
There are also plenty of human extras throughout the film, playing other teens at the same high school. This suggests that those four Sims-looking extras were added in post-production for just one single shot—possibly to fill an awkward gap in the seats.
CGI extras are not a new innovation, but they’re usually used for massive crowd scenes shown at a distance – an early example being battles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Using computer-generated extras for relatively close-up shots is not, however, a normal occurrence. These ones look pretty awkward once you know they’re there, and the most likely explanation is they were inserted to correct some kind of mistake in the original shot.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Disney for comment.