Andy Serkis is Gollum in The Lord of the Rings

Andy Serkis is Gollum in The Lord of the Rings
 

Luminous dots were painstakingly applied to Andy's face and his blue 
		lycra suit, allowing video cameras to precisely track his every move.

Luminous dots were painstakingly applied to Andy's face and his blue lycra suit, allowing video cameras to precisely track his every move.
 

Andy Serkis portrays Gollum on the performance capture stage

Andy Serkis portrays Gollum on the performance capture stage
 

Andy filmed every one of Gollum's scenes with the other actors, 
		including Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee).

Andy filmed every one of Gollum's scenes with the other actors, including Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee).
 

Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin) and Gollum (Andy Serkis)

Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin) and Gollum (Andy Serkis)
 

Andy's performance on set provided essential guidance to the animators 
		who ultimately drew Gollum on the screen.  The other actors found 
		it helpful to interact with Andy on the set.

Andy's performance on set provided essential guidance to the animators who ultimately drew Gollum on the screen.  The other actors found it helpful to interact with Andy on the set.
 

On the set

On the set
 

Torturing Gollum

Torturing Gollum
 

Gollum in The Lord of the Rings | Performance Capture

Lord of the Rings

The thought that my facial expressions could drive the CG Gollum face as well as the body seemed to be the next logical step. One has to remember that this kind of technology was developing all the time, and it felt as if I were test-driving a new machine.

Remington Scott said, "Hey Andy, check this out!"  I was handed a photocopied colour picture of an actor in a tuxedo, and next to him an identical picture of the same actor. I looked at it for a while, but wasn't quite sure why.

"Sorry, Remington I don't get it, what is it?" "Well, the guy on the right is the real actor and the guy on the left is CG. There's been some testing in LA with an actor playing a scene with himself using facial capture. We'd like to try to do this with Gollum."

The dots. The dots.

The dots. The dots.
 

A clear plastic mask with little holes drilled in it was placed over my face, so that a make-up pencil could be poked through, leaving precisely measured dots all over my face. Each dot, like the dots on the body suit, was assigned to a particular or group of muscles so that the movements could be tracked. Just when I thought I couldn't possibly look any more ridiculous, I was now looking like I had a rare form of pox - and this became part of the everyday ritual during this motion capture shoot.

Many faces of Gollum

Many faces of Gollum
 

On one particular day, I sat in a chair with my facial dots, plus heavy eyeliner and bright red lipstick to accentuate the movements of eyes and lips (Marilyn Manson would have been terrified) and we shot all the scenes from The Two Towers in one sitting, using three cameras from different angles. This was going to be used by the animators to build a visual reference library of all the facial expressions I was using. It felt pretty sterile and scientific doing the performance this way, unable to be freed up physically because of having to sit in the chair, but I guess it was more a case of seeing how the face moved than using the energy of a fully acted performance.

Ready for my close-up

Ready for my close-up
 

After much discussion about whether to go down the facial capture route it was decided that there wasn't going to be enough time to get the system functioning quickly enough before the film's deadline, and in the end it was not pursued after all and Gollum's face would be key-frame animated.

King Kong, however, is another story!

Randall William Cook (Animation Design Supervisor), Gollum and Andy

Randall William Cook (Animation Design Supervisor), Gollum and Andy
 

At WETA

At WETA
 

Gollum has a fish

Gollum has a fish
 

Andy also provided the voice of Gollum

Andy also provided the voice of Gollum
 

Andy 
		provided facial expressions for the full range of Gollum's emotions

Andy provided facial expressions for the full range of Gollum's emotions
 

Gollum is angry

Gollum is angry
 

The Hobbit

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