Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Short History of CG Characters in film

This comes at a good time, while there is debate around whether Andy Serkis' motion capture performance as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes should or will be recognised by AMPAS. The theory is that the actors who make up the bulk of the Academy are intimidated by what motion capture technology means for the future of their craft, and will resist recognising and honouring motion capture performances. While Andy Serkis' past snubs seem to support this, the Academy did recognise Brad Pitt's performance in Benjamin Button, the best parts of which were motion captured.

The more convincing argument is that motion-capture performances straddle a confusing line between acting & digital animation. On the one hand, you can't argue with the footage of Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, King Kong)  & Zoe Saldana (Avatar) bringing their digital characters to life in the clips below but, on the other hand, the argument that their performances are digitally enhanced, and therefore should not compete alongside their non-digital counterparts, also has merit.

Ultimately, it seems clear that Peter Jackson was only able to draw legitimate emotion out of King Kong because of Serkis' daring, vivid performance, and that Gollum is as much the triumph of a versatile and expressive actor as he is of a genius special effects team. Whether actors are intimidated by motion-capture performances, whether it is a new medium or just a new method, it seems a shame to keep denying Serkis recognition for his groundbreaking work. Embrace technology, AMPAS.


a short history of CG characters in movies from lnrdshelby on Vimeo.