CalTech Hosts Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Director Rupert Wyatt and Weta VFX supervisor Joe Letteri showed off plenty of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES footage last night at CalTech.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of the highly anticipated vfx flicks of the summer.

Director Rupert Wyatt and Weta VFX supervisor Joe Letteri showed off plenty of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES footage last night at CalTech. It was a fascinating sneak peek into the emotional core of the origin reboot set in contemporary San Francisco, which mixes more scientific research into the legendary sci-fi franchise.

Wyatt wanted to depart from the familiar narrative, substituting suspense for surprise. "It had some of CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and is the story of a revolution, and it the story of apes living in our world but in a contemporary setting," Wyatt told AWN/VFXWorld. "But it deals with very different characters and deals with science in such a way that it's in tune with the here and now with looking for a cure for Alzheimer's. There are certainly echoes [of the previous films] and we're looking to weave our story into the original 1968 film in terms of where we're headed."

For his part, Letteri explained how Weta reinvented its ground-breaking AVATAR performance capture method by placing the performance capture actors in the live-action set or out on location. They also adopted an active LED system of motion tracking instead of reflective optical markers to work in such a variety of conditions. Weta also started all over for creating a system of muscle, bone, skin and fur.

But, as always, it's about emotion. "There's a shot that everyone's been using from day one, where you've got Caesar sitting in his cell," Letteri told AWN/VFXWorld. "That was one of the first shots that we actually did. We always look for those moments when you can see the light behind the eyes -- you can see Caesar thinking, 'I know what I have to do.' That's of course all Andy [Serkis]. We just wanted to get to the point where we could convey it."

Speaking of Serkis, he joined the group via Skype and reiterated that Caesar represents his shining moment as a performance capture actor. There is no difference in acting methods for him, and this experience on RISE broke down all the barriers, save for the helmet-cam and funky costume. "The idea is to make it more transparent so that it enables this fantastic interface between the performance capture actors and the other actors on the set and the director."