Ape Acting

Mike Seymour digs into the process of turning mocap actors into living breathing digital apes for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Planet of the Apes Acting


Rise of the Planet of the Apes focused on a scientist who adopted an ape in the science-run-amok break-out hit film of 2011. Dawn of Planet of Apes focuses on an ape who deals with Shakespearean issues of betrayal, family and conflict. While Rise was lead by a human cast with amazing ape effects, Dawn is an ‘ape film’, with the principal actors – the lead actors – as digital primates.

Ironically, Dawn is a more ‘human’ story than Rise and delivers as much nuanced acting from the leads as it does action or drama effects work. In short, Weta Digital delivers Gollum-like character impact, but in the lead ape roles. Away from fully animated features, we have not seen digital characters so successfully carry the emotional heavy lifting of lead ‘actors’ in a major feature film. From Star Wars to The Hobbit, digital characters have had key but supporting roles. If you look at the film’s marketing, the one face on the poster is the lead actor and he is not real, but watching the film you almost immediately forget this. Furthermore, Caesar’s performance could be argued to not even be the most gripping in the film. In a movie with a digital lead actor, he ends up almost being outshone by the incredible performance of his supporting digital actor Koba.

Set 10 years after the virus outbreak that ended Rise, this follow-up film finds the enhanced Caesar in a new ape society in the Redwood forest north of San Francisco. Isolated, the apes have built a strong family-oriented community with order and structure. With the re-appearance of man and their guns, Caesar must explore if it is possible to trust and co-exist with humans again or face the prospect of ending years of peaceful remoteness with bloody conflict. Koba features strongly in the film, from the opening hunting scene with a heroic saving of Caesar’s life when a bear threatens his son, to the film’s gripping climax. In Rise, Koba had a much smaller part, but his former cruel treatment at the hands of the viscious laboratory staff sets up his much expanded role in Dawn perfectly. Koba has both the back story and acting opportunities to be perhaps the most complex and interesting of the Dawn apes.

FX Guide | Read the Full Article

An HP Discussion on High-Speed 4k Workflows

In this session, HP will show you the power of Thunderbolt 2 and why it’s needed for the ever changing next generation of video: 4K. The introduction of 4k video to the masses is delivering the unprecedented levels of quality and realism that audiences demand. 4k also brings with it massive amounts of data that can take traditional video workflows down to a crawl. In the face of the ever-increasing requirement for a lightning-fast video editing pipeline, HP Workstations and Thunderbolt 2 are powering a new generation of interconnected devices designed to accelerate your workflow.


Nathan Rabin apologizes for coining the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”

Nathan Rabin created the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” back in 2007… he’s sorry he did.


When I coined the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” in an essay about the movie “Elizabethtown” in 2007, I never could have imagined how that phrase would explode. Describing the film’s adorably daffy love interest played by Kirsten Dunst, I defined the MPDG as a fantasy figure who “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”

That day in 2007, I remember watching “Elizabethtown” and being distracted by the preposterousness of its heroine, Claire. Dunst’s psychotically bubbly stewardess seemed to belong in some magical, otherworldly realm — hence the “pixie” — offering up her phone number to strangers and drawing whimsical maps to help her man find his way. And as Dunst cavorted across the screen, I thought also of Natalie Portman in “Garden State,” a similarly carefree nymphet who is the accessory to Zach Braff’s character development. It’s an archetype, I realized, that taps into a particular male fantasy: of being saved from depression and ennui by a fantasy woman who sweeps in like a glittery breeze to save you from yourself, then disappears once her work is done.

When I hit “publish” on that piece, the first entry in a column I called “My Year of Flops,” I was pretty proud of myself. I felt as if I had tapped into something that had been a part of our culture for a long time and given it a catchy, descriptive name — a name with what Malcolm Gladwell might call “stickiness.”

But I should clarify a few things here. The trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a fundamentally sexist one, since it makes women seem less like autonomous, independent entities than appealing props to help mopey, sad white men self-actualize. Within that context, the phrase was useful precisely because, while still fairly flexible, it also benefited from a certain specificity. Claire was an unusually pure example of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl — a fancifully if thinly conceived flibbertigibbet who has no reason to exist except to cheer up one miserable guy.

Salon | Read the Full Article

Put on a Happy Face: Corporate Event Planning Video

Corporate video is often times a good way for filmmakers to supplement their income. Here’s some guidelines for creating a Corporate Event Video.

Gary is ecstatic about the rise in profits since they started marketing the new penis pills.

Gary is ecstatic about the rise in profits since they started marketing the new penis pills.

Event planners are doing more now than ever before. They are the backbone and visual wizards for corporate events. They allow their imaginations to come to life with eye catching visual displays and set up the perfect itinerary that caters to every want and need of their guests. But, behind the scenes there is a new trend arising, and it is one that is very beneficial to any corporate event. Although event planners are very critical to a successful event, videographers are also coming into play by creating memories for the beneficiaries and attendees by the means of a “Happy Face Video”. A Happy Face Video is exactly what it sounds like, a video with lots of happy faces!

What Is a Happy Face Video?

Corporate event planning videos are videos that encompass all the things that went on during the duration of an event, whether it is a day, a weekend, or a week. These videos are usually called “Candid’s” or, “Happy face videos” event in which a multiple-day event is covered by a video crew, including speakers, break-out sessions, awards ceremonies and local recreational activities in which the conventioneers participate. Happy Face Videos show all the fun activities, seminars, networking and smiling faces that went on during the period of the event. An on-site editor then creates a short video presentation that is shown before the close of the convention. Many associations take advantage of the convention venue to gather interviews of their principals, setting up a green screen or other type of background in a secluded room. Happy face videos bring an event to life, it is the last thing attendees will remember of their stay, and allow them to reminisce of how much fun they had while learning their trade and meeting new people in the field. These videos are the most important detail to any successful event; all attendees will go home pleased, eager, and enthusiastic to come back for your next exhibition.

Crews Control | Read the Full Article

Interview With A Legendary Grammy Winning Audio Engineer : Francis Buckley

Francis Buckley shares his experiences and knowledge that he picked up working with some of the best in the music industry, including Quincy Jones, Bruce Swedien, Glen Ballard, Frank Sinatra, Black Flag, Alanis Morisette and many more. Francis shares his experiences and knowledge that he picked up working with some of the best in the music industry, including Quincy Jones, Bruce Swedien, Glen Ballard, Frank Sinatra, Black Flag, Alanis Morisette and many more.


Understanding Art House: Under The Skin

Film is an innately ambiguous language. Art house films exploit that ambuguity by removing familiar (often hackneyed) elements of story that tell us what to feel. For this reason, art films can be frustrating and difficult to appreciate—but a deeper look can yield deeper rewards. Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin augments its unsettling qualities by doing just that: presenting a story completely devoid of benchmarks.

Under the Skin

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