Oscar Visual Effects Nominees: Animated Characters Shared Nothing But Excellence

Two of this year’s Oscar-nominated visual effects teams found themselves tasked with creating believable interaction between animated beings and live actors, but each took a different path to making fantasy characters auds would accept.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” used Weta Digital’s famed performance capture methods — newly refined for this show — to turn actors into apes. By contrast, “Guardians of the Galaxy” turned to more conventional character animation.

SEE ALSO: Visual Effects, Sound and Editing Oscar Nominees: Four Memorable Scenes

The “Apes” team aimed for subtle facial expressions for their chimp, gorilla and orangutan principals, while the “Guardians” crew wanted to ensure comic timing could flourish for cynical bounty hunter Rocket Raccoon and his “muscle,” the plant-creature Groot.

“We had the brother of the director, Sean Gunn, standing in on set for Rocket,” says Stephane Ceretti, vfx supervisor for “Guardians.” “That helped a lot in terms of creating the right eyeline. But also because he could improvise lines with the other actors and crack everyone up, which you need in a loose comedy.” An actor stood in for Groot as well, both wearing greenscreen suits.

Later Bradley Cooper came in to do the voice work for Rocket, and Vin Diesel voiced Groot. The animators incorporated their mannerisms into the characters, but only by observing them.

“Apes” director Matt Reeves also wanted to take their performance capture equipment further into the field for location shooting.

“He really wanted that feeling that we’re out with the chimps,” says vfx supervisor Joe Letteri. “Very tribal. Very dirty. He wanted to take you into this wet, rainy forest and so for the first time we really had to make this gear mobile.” The new equipment proved robust enough to survive the elements for long days of shooting.

“What I’m excited about is the fact that we created this ensemble cast that includes not just chimps but chimps and humans acting together.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    Film News Roundup: Stephen King's 'Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' Movie in the Works

    In today’s film news roundup, a Stephen King horror movie is in the works, “Downton Abbey” is seeing strong sales and a project about Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson is in development. KING ADAPTATION Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” has been set up as a movie at George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Issue With Customer Records

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, has confirmed a security issue may have exposed customers’ records. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Reports of the data breach first surfaced Tuesday through the Tech Crunch site, which alleged that tens of thousands [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Matthew Modine Accused of Violating Labor Laws With Campaign Videos

    Matthew Modine has been accused by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris of violating federal laws in his campaign to unseat Carteris. The production of three campaign videos for Modine by the for-profit New York Film Academy — on whose board Modine sits — has been blasted by Carteris for alleged violations of federal labor law prohibiting [...]

  • Ready or Not Movie

    'Ready or Not,' 'Angel Has Fallen' Enter Box Office Race

    Three more contenders are joining what has lately been a hostile box office arena. Can anyone emerge from August victorious? Fox Searchlight’s “Ready or Not,” a black comedy about a diabolical game of hide-and-seek, will debut in 2,244 North American theaters on Wednesday. The low-budget film is expected to earn upwards of $6.5 million over [...]

  • Rules Don't Apply

    Warren Beatty and Arnon Milchan Settle Suit Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    Arnon Milchan and Warren Beatty have settled their two-year legal battle over the disastrous release of “Rules Don’t Apply,” Beatty’s period drama about Howard Hughes. Milchan’s attorneys have filed a notice with the court dismissing his suit against Beatty. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Milchan’s company, New Regency, sued Beatty and other investors [...]

  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a

    Bolsonaro LGBTQI Outburst, Subsidy Freeze, Stirs Outrage

    Ramping up the drive into censorship in Brazil, its Minister of Citizenship, Omar Terra, has suspended a call for applications for governmental TV funding – until new criteria are established for its application. The country’s secretary for culture, Henrique Pires, who reports to Terra, has resigned in protest of the incentive freeze. The suspension, for [...]

  • Adam Brody'Ready or Not' film premiere,

    Adam Brody to Executive Produce, Star in 'The Kid Detective'

    “Ready or Not’s” Adam Brody has signed on to star in “The Kid Detective.” Sophie Nelisse will co-star in the dramedy from writer-director Evan Morgan. Brody will star as a once-celebrated kid detective, now 31, who continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity until a 16-year-old client (Nelisse) brings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content