Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is due out on Blu-ray on April 8th, but you can get a sneak peek behind the scenes of the film with a look at a new featurette. Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch in a mocap suit, this look at Weta’s movie magic shows Cumberbatch’s contributions to bringing Smaug to life. While it’s certainly entertaining watching the actor writhe around in his goofy-looking suit, the real wonder is reserved for the attention to detail that went into every digital inch of the legendary dragon. Hit the jump to watch the featurette.
Check out Cumberbatch in his mocap suit for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (via THR). Here’s what David Clayton of Smaug’s Oscar-nominated VFX team from Weta Digital had to say about recording the performance:
“Using our motion capture stage, we recorded his performances, which focused on the conversation with Bilbo sequence. Having Benedict in a mocap suit was lots of fun — for us, and hopefully for him too — and seemed to help get him immersed and hone in on the character.
“The translation of performance from Benedict to Smaug wasn’t a one-to-one match like you’d get from a humanoid creature. They have very different physiologies,” Clayton explained. “As animators we had to transpose the elements of Benedict’s performance that were critical to the shot, such as head nuances and facial expressions. We then built up the majority of his motion with keyframe animation (meaning that it was animated by hand).
“Smaug needed a formidable presence, so we worked hard to craft impressive poses for his massive body, wings and tail. He also covered a full range of moods — from supreme arrogance to paranoid suspicion, from curiosity to violent rage. Adding to his versatility as a character was the creation of his hands. We achieved this by adding a thumb and extra forefingers to Smaug’s wings.”