By Bill Desowitz.
The New Zealand-based company has created tools that allow the artistry of a human performance to breath life in the digital characters in “The Lord of the Rings,” “Avatar,” and “Planet of the Apes.” One visionary has been leading the charge in transforming this revolutionary technology into a tangible tool for filmmakers: Joe Letteri, senior visual effects supervisor and co-partner of Weta Digital.
Letteri has won four Oscars for his instrumental work in advancing performance capture and virtual production (“Avatar,” “King Kong,” and the two “Lord of the Rings” sequels, “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King”). However, his most recent supervision of Andy Serkis’ simian Caesar on the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy has been the most innovative. The performance-captured animation was so believable that audiences couldn’t tell that it was a CG character — the Weta artists translated Serkis’ epic performance, with all of its nuance and emotional gravitas, into that of a magnetic leading man playing a traditional hero role.
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