2011′s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which will soon be just the first film in a new prequel trilogy, made almost $500 million worldwide at the box office, delighted fans and critics alike, and ushered in a new age for the decades old franchise. The film’s sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, hits theaters later this summer, but times have definitely changed since the first film in the franchise, simply titled Planet of the Apes, debuted in 1968.
Back then, intricate costumes and groundbreaking prosthetic makeup worn by the actors were used to create the titular apes featured in the 1960s and 1970s films, and Planet of the Apes was even nominated for Best Costume Design and won an honorary Academy Award for Outstanding Makeup Achievement. However, when it came time to revive the franchise in 2011, filmmakers decided to use a different technique to bring the very first highly intelligent ape to life.
Andy Serkis, who previously amazed audiences as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and by playing King Kong in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake, was brought in to motion capture the ape Caesar, subsequently earning the actor numerous awards. The new featurette above shows how Serkis and a few other actors playing apes in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes use the latest technology to create a unique cinematic experience.
Motion and performance capture work by using reflective markers attached to the skin to identify and capture body movement and facial expressions to later animate a digital character. As you can see from the video, the results are spot on as not only do the apes move like the actors, but they’re also able to share the same emotions.
The first film Rise of the Planet Apes used advances in motion capture technology to allow these reflective markers or dots to be viewed by the camera in daylight, while another breakthrough made it possible to shoot up to six motion capture actors with other actors on location rather than on a soundstage. Basically, all these developments made it possible for the scene you see above in the photo.
Are you looking forward to the Rise of the Apes sequel? Let us know in the comments.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will release in theaters on July 11th, 2014.