‘The Hobbit’: Benedict Cumberbatch in Mocap as Smaug

Published 1 year ago by

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Blu-ray doesn’t hit shelves until April, but we already have a sneak peak at some of the behind the scenes features that might be included in the extras.

The video (above) reveals the extreme detail gone into Smaug’s Oscar-nominated visual effects work, and the accompanying interview with Weta’s David Clayton describes how actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s vocal and physical work contributed to the creation of the centuries old dragon.

Apparently, Cumberbatch arrived at Weta in Wellington New Zealand in early 2012 to get the process started. The video gives us a brief, yet kind of hilarious, glimpse of him in a motion capture suit, writhing on the floor to generate realistic movements for the giant beast.

Said Clayton:

“Having Benedict in a mocap suit was lots of fun – for us, and hopefully for him too – and seemed to help him get immersed and home in on the character. “

Clayton goes on to say how Cumberbatch’s vocal work helped Weta visualize the movements of the dragon’s mouth and throat as well as other facial features like the eyebrows, adding:

“The translation of performance from Benedict to Smaug wasn’t a one-to-one match like you’d get from a humanoid creature. They have very different psychologies. As animators we had to transpose the elements of Benedict’s performance that were critical to the shot, such as head nuanced and facial expressions. We then built up the majority of his motion with keyframe animation.”

Benedict Cumberbatch in Hobbit Motion Capture Suit as Smaug The Hobbit: Benedict Cumberbatch in Mocap as Smaug

One of the most visually stunning scenes in the film is when Smaug awakens from hibernation from underneath a massive pile of gold coins. The incredible way that the coins roll off of him and how both he and Bilbo interact with them throughout the rest of the scene were, Clayton says, no small task.

“We got creative with his locomotion through the gold by plowing him through the coins like a train through snow. This was a formidable challenge, as the VFX team had to simulate all the coins with each movement of the dragon. Some of the action sequences involved hundreds of millions of CG coins moving at once.”

This short video shows us the incredibly intricate work that went into creating this film. But does The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have a shot at taking home the prize on Oscar night going up against Gravity? All of the Lord of the Rings films won their VFX Oscars, but The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey lost out last year to Life of Pi. Win or lose this year, Smaug looked, and sounded, great.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on April 8th, 2014.

Follow Casey on Twitter @CaseyCip

Source: THR

TAGS: The hobbit
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  1. Cumberbatch as Smaug saved this movie.

    • The movie was fine, the only real bad thing about it was the forced love triangle.

      • And that it was about half an hour longer than it needed to be. But that ends up boiling down to opinion.

        • And that barely anything big or important happened and nearly everything was all cgi.

          • That’s a complaint a lot of people had with the first one too, that it could’ve had around 40 minutes cut from it and nothing would’ve been lost.

            Haven’t seen either of the Hobbit movies yet though, waiting for them to appear on TV first, although weirdly, the first part wasn’t on last Christmas like I figured it would be.

            • In my opinion they’re both fun adventure movies but nowhere near the quality of a fraction of any of the Lord of the Rings films. But that’s just me.

      • you call that legolas and she elf and kili a love triangle

  2. This was too great to pass up. Take a look at the pic of Cumberbatch, then take a look at Arnold in Total Recall…


    • That’s what I was thinking! :-)

  3. until I saw the check that said $6843 , I accept …that…my father in law had been actualie earning money in there spare time from their computer. . there best friend had bean doing this less than eleven months and resently took care of the debts on their villa and purchased Renault 4 . you can find out more…….http://x.co/3wYP9

  4. Somebody give Benedict some laxative quick !
    It looks like he’s been holding it in since the last Sherlock.

  5. If it wasn’t for the big text saying ‘The Hobbit’ on each book end, I’d buy them in a second. Why do this and ruin the replica? It makes it look cheap. We KNOW it’s from The Hobbit movie, we just bought the film, dammit!

  6. Ignore above^

    I posted the comment on the wrong page. LOL.

  7. Expected more Benedict Cumberbatch talking here and them showing him..so disappointing it was all about CGI !

    Him in the Movie was not done so well ! Why hire him as a voice actor at all if you change his voice so much that its hard to recognize ? Wasted !

    Otherwise Movie was good,just watched it tonite as it plays now here in China !
    Just too short,and ended at a bad moment ! Could use an extra hour !
    Hope the DVD is extended !

    • I take it you’re new to voice acting then? You do realise Andy Serkis sounds nothing like Gollum, right? Smaug has to sound menacing, not like a middle class Englishman.

      Seeing this video reminds me of Mark Kermode reviewing it on BBC News back in December and both he and the host were surprised with the pronunciation “smowg” after spending decades calling him “smorg”, which then led to the hilarious line “It seems this movie has a smowgasbord of CGI and nice visuals but not much else until the dragon appears”.

  8. Sherlock team in Hobbit, I’m going to like this :)

  9. lol This movie never needed saving, everyone did great and Hobbit in general kicks major @$$. Period.

  10. The Hobbit without Smaug is a snag. Really motion capture did great scenes for movies. Actually, I am looking for a great performances in a motion capture and I bumped with this one http://www.exploretalent.com/articles/top-10-best-motion-capture-performances/ I also catch Smaug and Gollum in that article. Now, who has the best performance shot in a motion capture? Gollum?

  11. It’s really amazing, by the movement of Benedict Cumberbatch as a “Dragon” was awesome. Even though they lost VFX Oscars to Life of Pi, still the movie was perfect. It is definitely a very exciting movie to watch. Also I read an article at http://www.exploretalent.com/articles/top-10-best-motion-capture-performances/ that has a huge motion performance like Zoe Saldana of the very successful movie of all time the “AVATAR”.