|Tuesday, 12 July 2011 08:17|
Director Rupert Wyatt and Andy Serkis Talk About the Motion Capture Technology Used in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
by Rob Vaux
Primatologists, professors and filmmakers gathered at CalTech in Pasadena this past Thursday to discuss 20th Century Fox’s new film Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Apes director Rupert Wyatt headlined a panel that included visual effects supervisor Joe Lettieri, Diane Fossey Foundation representative Clare Richardson and CalTech professor of philosophy Steve R. Quartz, as well as actor Andy Serkis via Skype from London. Their discussion centered around Fox’s re-imagining of their venerable Planet of the Apes franchise, the role of motion capture technology in the film, and its implications on the status of the great apes in our world today.
Hit the jump for a recap of the panel that includes quotes from both Wyatt and Serkis. Starring James Franco, Tom Felton, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, John Lithgow, and the aforementioned Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on August 5th.
For me, the most surprising revelation was that the film itself involved no live animals at all. The apes – particularly the hyper-intelligent Caesar, who leads a simian revolt against humanity – are all rendered by performance capture. The filmmakers touted the advances of the technology in the years since it was first introduced, as well its ability to help them avoid any moral compromises on the film. As Wyatt explained:
With performance capture technology as the only viable option, the filmmakers turned to WETA Workshop in New Zealand to see it through. Their challenge was to render the ape characters with total realism, often appearing side-by-side with live actors in the same shot. Serkis – who has become the go-to performer for motion-capture roles – explained that such a notion wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago:
Wyatt also showed a number of clips from the film which depicted Serkis’s Caesar being raised in secret by a benevolent scientist, only to be shown first-hand the cruelty that humanity is capable of. Feeling abandoned by his “parent,” he begins to realize his own worth as he rallies his fellow apes against those he believes are oppressing them. For a summer film, it looks extremely intense, with scenes of animal entrapment and torture in science labs, and a deep connection – ultimately betrayed – between Caesar and his human family. Serkis’s performance shines through in each of the clips. If the film ultimately works, it will be because the technology captures his expressions and body movements so perfectly. The actor explained his level of comfort with the technology, saying:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters on August 5th.