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More Than Meets The Eye: A Look At The Motion Capture Performances Of ‘Avatar’
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Avatar Motion Capture

The LA Times is currently doing a special feature called Wizards of Hollywood, and it looks at all of the crazy skills and technologies that go into today’s movie-making processes. For this special feature that they’re running, Fox was kind enough to present them with a behind the scenes look with James Cameron and others into the making of Avatar, and the motion capture technology used in creating the Na’vi species.

The video is basically aimed at informing people of just how complicated the process of motion capture performances really are. Many people think that because it’s animated, then it must just all be done in computers, and this is not the case at all. Unlike hand-drawn Disney and Pixar animated films, for example, these movies actually require living, breathing actors to perform in the film with every bit as much of themselves as a live-action film would. Everything all the way down to their facial movements and reactions are scanned and entered into the computer so that the animated portions can be molded around them. As they put it in the video, this technology is basically a way to avoid putting the actor into a chair for however many hours a day to receive makeup and prosthetic work.

Click on over to the other side to read more, and you can head to the LA Times link to watch this Avatar special feature!

Now, for me personally, the last thing I want to see happen is for makeup and prosthetic work to be made extinct in lieu of motion capture. I love the technology and think it works fantastic in certain movies, but there are others (like most of Guillermo del Toro’s movies) where a motion capture performance just wouldn’t have been close to the same.

Though this video is a look at the work on Avatar, this of course is not the first time that we’ve seen the power of an actor’s motion capture performance. It was not too long ago that a man named Andy Serkis had many people pulling for him to grab a much-deserved Oscar nomination for his mo-cap work on The Lord of the Rings trilogy as Gollum. He went also went one to do another amazing job on King Kong as the mammoth animal. Aside from that, we’ve seen Robert Zemeckis working hard as one of the main voices behind motion capture with his films The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol.

This is a style of film making that is certainly here to stay folks, and when used properly, it can be an impressive and effect tool for Hollywood’s finest.

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