MOVIES

What The Planet Of The Apes Franchise Looks Like Without Special Effects

The performance capture rigs used in the “Planet of the Apes” films do an impressive job of mapping physical movements and facial expressions, but the hard work of turning that data into a visually convincing character model happens later on. During production, much more rudimentary CGI models are used as placeholders for the finished products, providing a general idea of what the apes will eventually look like. Later on, it’s up to the world-renowned team at Weta to turn these Nintendo 64 characters into fully-textured, properly-lit, convincing apes.

Different teams at Weta work on different parts of the ape-creation process, be it facial animations, larger body movements, or making sure that all of the CGI transposed onto the performances looks correct with all the set pieces and props involved. In order to be as accurate as possible, Weta animators have spent a lot of time studying real-life apes in zoos and other environments.

“It’s fun because you’re looking at these animals in another level,” Weta animator Carol Madrigal said in a 2024 interview with CineMovie. “Now you see everything about them. I can’t see now a chimp, or a gorilla, or an orangutan without looking at a lot more, you know, even their shoulders, like how their shoulders are moving, how they’re breathing. It’s really cool.”

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