WETA Digital’s Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon Talk DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, Technical Challenges, Deleted Scenes, and Future Projects

     July 11, 2014


The visual effects company Weta Digital became a household name following their groundbreaking work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and they’ve worked on a number of other impressive films in the interim, ranging from District 9 to Avatar to Man of Steel.  With Rise of the Planet of the Apes, however, the company built upon the technology used to bring Gollum to life in Lord of the Rings to create phenomenal motion-capture apes.  That technology has advanced even further for the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, with astounding results.  What Weta has accomplished in conjunction with the actors that played the Apes is a huge step forward for how technology can shape a movie.  I cannot wait to see where it goes from here.

At the recent San Francisco press day I landed an exclusive video interview with senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri and visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon about their work on the film.  They talked about advancements in technology and the challenges of bringing realism to the screen, deleted scenes, the technical challenges in the script, what it was like working with Matt Reeves, what it meant shooting a majority of the movie on location, future projects like Batman v Superman and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-charge-posterJoe Letteri and Dan Lemmon Time Index:

  • 0:15 – They share their response to fan reactions upon seeing the film.
  • 0:55 – They comment on the advancements in technology and the challenges of bringing realism to the screen.
  • 2:20 – They talk about technical challenges in the script, planning performance capture, and managing large numbers of apes in the shot.
  • 3:25 – They address the ability of the motion capture technology to really translate the actors’ performances into the digital characters and across to the audience.
  • 4:55 – They talk about the evolution from Rise of the Planet of the Apes to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
  • 5:20 – They reveal that about 700 people worked full time (or more) on the movie in their area alone.
  • 6:05 – They talk about a high-resolution technology they developed to add an extra level of detail to close-ups.
  • 6:55 – They tease some deleted scenes that went through VFX work but were pulled due to pacing or other editorial reasons.
  • 7:50 – Comment on collaborating with director Matt Reeves about character design, aging, and various details of scenes.
  • 9:05 – Talk about shooting a majority of the movie on location which let the motion-capture actors interact with each other and the set in a more natural way.
  • 10:10 – Comment on Andy Serkis motion-capture work and the lack of awards response for his performances and the evolution of the performance-capture technology.
  • 13:30 – They tease the VFX progress on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and respond to the title change and what it means for audiences.

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