Motion capture tech ushering in 'a new age for actors,' says Andy Serkis

King of the monsters Andy Serkis, who played Gollum, King Kong and now lends his talents to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, says motion capture is "proliferating at a fantastic rate."

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Andy Serkis plays ape-chief Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. 20th Century Fox

Motion-capture technology is ushering in a "new age for actors," says Andy Serkis, the renowned creature-actor best known for playing Gollum in "Lord of the Rings" and King Kong.

"The fidelity of the performance is the greatest it's ever been," said Serkis, speaking of advances in motion-capture tech at a Q&A in London to promote upcoming summer sequel "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," in which he plays ape chief Caesar.

The animal-aping actor said that the use of motion-capture -- which sees a human's physical movements mapped onto a CGI creation -- is "proliferating at a fantastic rate," and thanks to lower budgets, it's starting to make its way to TV as well.

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Serkis at the LA premiere of 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Featureflash/Shutterstock

Despite the fact that motion-capture tech often obscures an actor's face, Serkis says young professionals entering the trade aren't phased. "They've grown up with video-games," Serkis says. "They understand the connection of the actor to the avatar."

Serkis, who is also signed up to play an as-yet-unknown role in "Star Wars: Episode VII," says that motion-capture performances are not in fact a dehumanising affair. "You're still putting something of yourself under the microscope," Serkis noted. "Everything that creates these experiences is authored by the actors on set."

The British actor, who also served as a consultant on recent monster mash-up "Godzilla," said that motion-capture was also finding a natural home in "live theatrical arenas," where actors can, using the technology, perform live as anything from quadrupeds to light trails.

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Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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