ByRob Harris, writer at
Sometimes I play video games.
Rob Harris

When Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hit screens last year, I was well and truly blown away by its absolutely stunning special effects. In fact, I was so in awe of the impressively life-like visuals that I left the cinema convinced the filmmakers were sorcerers.

As it turns out, they're just very, very clever people, and they're here to tell you why. Weta Digital - the studio behind all this monkey business - has put out an enlightening video, detailing just how they worked their computer generated magic. You need to take a look at this!

An Authentic Performance

Instead of adding them in later, the studio hired actors to play the ape characters, allowing them to film every scene as you would with an all-human cast.

Though this meant they could now get more genuine performances, it also meant the digital effects team had to make sure their technology was up to the job. Weta's performance capture rigs were modified so that they could withstand harsh outdoor environments, unaffected by rain, sleet and slow.

Instantaneous Evolution

Taking a human's motion-inputs and transferring them to the screen is no easy task, especially when you consider the vast difference in body structure between man and ape.

Furry Impressive

The apes' fur was rendered using one million distinct strands of hair, their exquisite detail far surpassing the sophistication of any characters the studio had previously worked on.

We Built This City...

Above: Before, Below: After
Above: Before, Below: After

Using real life shots of San Francisco as a jumping off point, the team then projected signs of degradation and greenery onto reconstructed geometry, making it appear post-apocalyptic.

...And We Destroyed This City

For the final confrontation between Koba and Caesar, the team at Weta wanted every detail to be just right.

Using real unfinished skyscrapers from South America and Asia as inspiration, they designed the dilapidated tower with a keen awareness for the building's actual skeletal structure, grounding the set in reality and adding a layer of authenticity to the climactic scene.

Make sure you check out the full video below, and let know what you think in the comments section!


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