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Andy Serkis will turn actors into quadruped animals for Jungle Book: Origins

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In a discussion about the final installment of THE HOBBIT trilogy, veteran performance capture artist Andy Serkis was asked about the future of the filming tactics used to capture characters such as Gollum or Smaug. Much like Benedict Cumberbatch actually performed as Smaug rather than just lending a voice, Serkis will expect the cast of his upcoming JUNGLE BOOK: ORIGINS to fully perform their parts as well. While I'm not sure how that may work for Kaa the snake, any actor who plays character with four legs will do their part. Here's a rough transcription of what Serkis had to say about it.

Andy Serkis on the future of performance capture:

Performance capture has got an incredible future. It is a marriage of performance [and] incredible artistry and it's also the heritage of artists and a culture. I realized working with other visual effects companies [that] WETA really have developed the most extraordinary singular pipeline in terms of transferring an actor's performance into an avatar character. That's something that can be learned all around the world now, to a degree. I mean, it is literally artistry - the way the performances are interpolated and transferred from what's created on set. I'm directing JUNGLE BOOK at the moment and we're creating quadruped animals. People have said, "Well, you can't possibly be! How can you have panthers and tigers played by humans?" In the same way that Benedict [Cumberbatch] doing this extraordinary job of giving life and soul and personality to a 150-foot dragon, we're trying to break through in terms of methodology that will help us humanize these animal characters. You find the tools that are necessary for each job. What the visual effects teams do - the way that they amplify the likes of characters - is what is revolutionary. You do have that human connection. You can sense that emotion. All of the choices that an actor makes on a set is there. It's real. It's happening. And that's why it's a beautiful and liberating tool for 21st century acting.

If you recall, the cast of Serkis' film is filled with the likes of Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett (among a few others). At this point, I'm just excited to see the behind-the-scenes footage of how these actors perform their animalistic duties. I betcha Bale plays a mean black panther! Not to be outdone, Disney's iteration of the story (directed by Jon Favreau) will hit a full year earlier than Serkis'. I'm curious to see both, but given Serkis' passion for performance capture and a whole extra year to work on it, I'm betting that'll be the version to stand out.

JUNGLE BOOK: ORIGINS is aiming to hit theaters on October 21, 2016.

Even if the CGI isn't photorealistc, performance capture undoubtedly bridges that gap to create characters the audience can believe in.

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