The thing that makes Gollum such an interesting character from a tech standpoint is how he behaves like a natural person. It’s not just a video game NPC moving around on-screen. You gain insight into the character by analyzing his facial cues and how he looks at other characters. That’s an impressive calling card for the motion capture technology on display, and it’s only going to get better as advancements become more widespread.
When asked about how much mo-cap has changed from 20 years ago compared to today, Serkis explained, “In terms of performance, capture, the method of facial capture is evolving all the time and the detail, the nuances in the end, the actual root performance that you get out of an actor, and the translation of that into the final thing is getting closer and closer.” He describes the process of bringing the ape characters from the recent “Planet of the Apes” trilogy and how the technology was used to capture the small, nuanced details of Serkis’ performance as Caesar. And the actor-turned-director believes those subtle details will only become more pronounced as time goes on.
“People have criticized me before for saying it’s like digital makeup, but it is becoming that,” Serkis elaborated. “I think you will be able to play someone from history from photogrammetry and have a real Abraham Lincoln’s face that you’re playing rather than a sculpted one.” It’s incredible to think of how far cinema has come in a couple of decades. One thing we know for sure is that if they ever remake the original “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Gollum could look vastly different and improved.