Last fall we showed you a few images of Benedict Cumberbatch (‘Star Trek Into Darkness‘, ‘Sherlock’) suited up in his motion capture outfit perfoming as Smaug for the film ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’. As Cumberbatch never does anything half way, he really went over the top when it comes to Smaug so much so that the dragon he was portraying reacts as he does. Now, we have a video to show you the before and after of his performance!
Talk about being dedicated to a role:
According to David Clayton from Weta Digital who did the special effects on the film:
“Our challenge with Smaug was making him every bit as engaging and believable as his live-action counterparts. Using our motion-capture stage, we recorded his performances, which focused on the conversation with Bilbo sequence. Having Benedict in a mocap suit was lots of fun — for us, and hopefully for him, too — and seemed to help get him immersed and home in on the character.
“The translation of performance from Benedict to Smaug wasn’t a one-to-one match like you’d get from a humanoid creature. They have very different physiologies. As animators we had to transpose the elements of Benedict’s performance that were critical to the shot, such as head nuances and facial expressions. We then built up the majority of his motion with keyframe animation. Smaug needed a formidable presence, so we worked hard to craft impressive poses for his massive body, wings and tail. He also covered a full range of moods — from supreme arrogance to paranoid suspicion, from curiosity to violent rage. Adding to his versatility as a character was the creation of his hands. We achieved this by adding a thumb and extra forefingers to Smaug’s wings.”
So all of the animation had to be done more or less by hand compared to being automated. You can never accuse Peter Jackson or his team of thinking small when putting this together.
As always when it comes to what we see on screen in Jackson’s epic fantasy films every little detail counts and is paid attention to. For fans of how films are made does this give you even more respect for Cumberbatch as an actor and what Jackson’s VFX team does? Share your thoughts below!
Source: The Hollywood Reporter