Computer Graphics World

July/August 2014

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16 cgw j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 4 D I G I T A L C H A R A C T E R S he summary blurb on the Rotten Toma- toes website says everything a director and visual effects studio could wish for: "With intelligence and emotional res- onance to match its stunning special effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes expands on its predecessor with an exciting and ambitious burst of sci-fi achievement." A few days before release, the approval rating for the film on the website, which aggregates reviews, averaged an astound- ing 98 percent. "I'm more proud of this film than I have been of any film in a while," says Erik Winquist, one of three visual effects super- visors at Weta Digital working under overall VFX Supervisor Dan Lemmon and with the guidance of Joe Letteri, senior VFX supervisor and Weta Digi- tal director. "It's rare when you get to work on something as strong," Winquist continues. "The story, the performances, the visuals. Everything was firing on all cylinders." The film brings back Andy Serkis in the role of Caesar, the chimpanzee in Rise of the Plan- et of the Apes who was dosed by the human character Will Rodman (Actor James Franco) with an intelligence-enhancing drug. In that film, Caesar re- leases a gaseous version of the viral drug in a primate shelter. Aer a confrontation on the Golden Gate Bridge, Caesar, the apes from the shelter, and others from the zoo, escape north into Muir Woods. The credits for that film set up this one. The virus, which enhanced the apes' intelligence, kills peo- ple – and it's spreading around the world. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes film opens with a news report about the pandemic caused by the virus. It's 10 years later. Caesar is now the leader of a large community of apes living in Muir Woods. He has a wife, a teenage son, and a newborn. He chases through the forest to hunt food. Unbe- knownst to Caesar, a colony of surviving humans lives across the Bridge. When they enter the Marin County woods to re-activate a hydroelectric dam, the conflict begins. All the apes in both films are CG characters. For Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a crew of 900 people at Weta Digital worked on 1,100 visual effects shots, some for a few weeks, others for a year and a half to two years. "We were the only company WETA DIGITAL ADVANCES THE STATE OF THE ART OF CREATURE CREATION BY BARBARA ROBERTSON Evolution T Images ©2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. Courtesy Weta.

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