Rise of the Planet of the Apes was more than a fantastic movie. To those of us who love great apes and who are determined to end their use in entertainment, the movie went beyond raising deeply important issues of human prejudice and empathy. To us, Rise of the Planet of the Apes – and the next movie in the prequels to the iconic 1968 Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – may represent a turning point for ape welfare. Because, you see, these movies are proof that human actors, with the assistance of technology and creative genius, can tell the ape story. They can BE apes.
|Incredible human actors play apes in Rise of the Planet of the Apes|
The method that brings these ape characters to life is called “performance capture.” In a recent interview, Staci Layne Wilson of Dread Central was talking to Andy Serkis (who plays chimpanzee Caesar) about the method, and asked if it was helpful “to have a lot of other actors also doing motion capture” in the movie.
|Karin Konoval as orangutan Maurice|
“It's a great ensemble cast, really talented actors,” Andy responded. “I don't actually see myself as the best of motion capture. I think I’m a relatively good actor, but there are amazing actors in this film… Karin [Konoval], who plays Maurice, is fantastic; she turns in a wonderful performance.”
Andy is right about Karin, of course. Maurice is the orangutan in the movie, and anyone who has ever looked into an orangutan’s eyes will recognize the honesty of Karin Konoval’s performance.
So how does one do it? How does one BE an ape?
If you haven’t seen video of performance capture in the raw, before the technological wizards do their magic, you should check it out. During filming, the ape actors wear grey body suits rigged with sensors that track every movement of their body, a helmet camera that tracks facial expressions in meticulous detail, and a sound microphone. Then, in post-production, the geniuses at Weta Digital apply the "digital make up," adding anatomical layers until the actors look like apes.
The result is magic for audiences around the world. The result may also lead to end of Hollywood's use of apes in movies. See the magic, and see a real dawn for apes in entertainment.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens in U.S. theaters on July 11.