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Ideas/Commentarymotion capture

Actors Shouldn’t Take All The Credit For Performance Capture, Says ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Director

Someone influential outside of animation and vfx really needed to say something about Andy Serkis and his campaign to win acting awards at the expense of all the vfx artists with whom he collaborates.

That someone influential has emerged, and it’s Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

Without mentioning Serkis by name, Vogt-Roberts addressed the overall issue head-on, saying that despite the work that actors do, the credit for animated characters created through performance and facial capture does not belong solely to an actor.

“No disrespect to any actor ever who has done that…but from someone being deep in it and knowing the amount of work that the vfx team and the vfx supes do, is they take that facial performance and they take it to another level,” Vogt-Roberts said last summer at San Diego Comic-Con. The comments were published on Monday in a video on the Ars Technica website.

Added Vogt-Roberts: “I think that conversation is very myopic and misguided to even consider nominating an actor for a performance unless you’re also gonna nominate the part of the vfx team behind it and the vfx supervisor because that is a joint effort…Those actors should be celebrated, but there’s a lot of people behind them that need to be celebrated too.”

As Cartoon Brew has previously covered, Vogt-Roberts chose fully-keyframed animation over performance capture techniques for Kong: Skull Island, which grossed $566 million worldwide this year.

His full comment can be read below:

And the only other piece that I’ll say on this, because I think it’s really important, is we now live in a world in which we’re having these conversations about actors being nominated for their facial cap and mocap performances, which is incredible that we’ve gotten to that point. However, no disrespect to any actor ever who has done that, because they are doing incredible work, but from someone being deep in it and knowing the amount of work that the vfx team and the vfx supes do, is they take that facial performance and they take it to another level.

I think that conversation is very myopic and misguided to even consider nominating an actor for a performance unless you’re also gonna nominate the part of the vfx team behind it and the vfx supervisor because that is a joint effort. That is not a one-to-one translation of someone saying, ‘You do this performance and it’s gonna end up on screen.’ There’s so much more that goes into that, and so, I am all for that conversation and those actors should be celebrated, but there’s a lot of people behind them that need to be celebrated too.

  • Robert Holmén

    Revealing that mocap performances have to be fixed by VFX artists is the 21st Century version of revealing that Joan Crawford had to be shot through gauze.

    I’m not surprised that they try to hide the stuff behind the curtain when a Tom Hanks has the mocap suit on but is there any modern production endangered by people finding out that Andy Serkis isn’t all there is to it.

    Is he that big and irreplaceable?

    • Sabretruthtiger

      It’s not some piece of tech or a technical trick like Gauze. It’s incredibly talented artists acting through a technically demanding medium. Often mocap is largely blown away and hand keyed. The ability to animate realistic motion and weight is invaluable in adding to these shots and many animators can’t even do this.

      • Robert Holmén

        You think that gauze technique took no talent.

        Photographing middle-aged women to look like starlets took work and talent and experience. It wasn’t like a still portrait they could airbrush afterward.

    • joan crawford

      Gauze??? Well, I’ll be!
      That may be true, but this is still quite rude!

  • Dylancaufield1

    Fidel Castro has a point.

  • Mark Walton

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Why can’t they nominate the team that create these performances?