Andy Serkis talks about the evolution of motion capture
TV and Movies
How have you seen just how technology has helped evolve storytelling from your perspective?
Well, if we go back right back to the beginning to Lord of the Rings.
The thing that was discovered on that was that Peter Jackson had this idea that up to that point visual effects were imagined.
They were imagined by other actors in real shooting or on live sets.
So they had to imagine that there was a dragon there or a threatening beast or whatever it was.
And Peter Jackson did not want the actors playing Sam and Frodo to have to imagine what Gollum was doing, so he wanted to have an actor on set play that character.
And then, the performance capture, or as it was called in those days, motion capture, was beginning to emerge as a tool.
But that was the And sort of the main tipping point was this moment where we suddenly went from a visual effect becoming a real character and that was having an actor to play the role.
So I would go and shoot on set with my fellow actors on live sets and live locations but I would always have to go back and repeat the plates.
The empty plate who would shoot Both with the actors, and then we'd have empty plates shot.
I'd have to go then back and populate those empty plates using motion capture on my own in the studio.
The significant changes over the course of the next 17 years was such that when we went back to work on King Kong.
We started to use facial capture so I had 130 markers stuck to my face but it was still in a controlled environment.
It was still in the motion capture stage.
Then in between those films.
We started working on Tintin and at the same time Avatar was happening.
And at that time it freed up the actors to work in the volume wearing head mounted cameras so that you're fully free to move the 360 degrees.
Was being captured and the next big shifting technology was taking all of that and then placing on a live action film set so that you didn't ever have to go back and repeat it, that we could catch everything in the moment so acting opposite your live is I've always done but had to repeat it.
This now we have the technology to put the performance capture cameras in the same room as real film cameras and lighting and get the whole thing all in one hit.
So that was the sort of the progression.
Are you still blown away by any of the evolutions that have happened?
Maybe things that are like, I didn't think this could happen.
Or has it kind it happened how you thought it would?
I mean, the essence of it hasn't changed hugely.
But what has changed is the artistry that goes with it, the software, the engineering, and the rendering, and all of that that makes it feel more photo real.
But also the artistry in the sense that I've now been working with that team for, over the course of 17 years.
So they fully understand what it is to honor the actor's performance.
And to try and emulate it exactly.
And through all of the new software and code that's been written to make it look photoreal.
Then you've got to actually.
You know, because what the director is working with in the cut is the performance that he shot on the day.
So, my face will live in the cut for months and months and months.
When they come to make Caesar's face work, there is this artistry of bringing Caesar's face, putting it next to mine and going, well, okay.
The first part animation shows, you know what Andy's doing, is he's being angry but there's some vulnerability.
But we've already seen the anger there.
So there's literally 120 iterations per shot until you're exactly matching the authored performance by the actor.
so that's so you see those shots start to come through, you know, those have improved.
Dramatically over the last, certainly throughout the course of making these three movies.
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