Computer Graphics World

July/August 2014

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j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 4 c g w 1 7 D I G I T A L C H A R A C T E R S that created the apes and the environments," Lemmon says. T H E S E T T I N G Although the action plays out in the San Francisco area, Director Matt Reeves shot the stereo film largely in British Columbia and New Orleans, with some plate photography in San Francisco. "We shut down several streets in New Orleans around the intersections of Rampart, Common, and Tulane," Lem- mon says. "That stood in for Market and California streets in San Francisco." Set designers covered buildings with vines and other signs of degradation. "The set was amazing," Winquist says. "They built a 30-foot facade in a vacant lot and dressed buildings in present-day New Orleans to look as if they had not been maintained by man. Trees grown wild. Weeds in the pavement cracks. It's hard to imagine things would go that far off the tracks, but they looked at a city in the Ukraine that was taken over by nature aer Chernobyl." Weta Digital artists extended the film sets and added such iconic San Francisco land- marks as the Zoetrope and Transamerica buildings and the Golden Gate Bridge to the plates. Then, they augmented the images to create the type of degradation that would occur if nature had destroyed the city. One sequence set on California Street, though, was entirely CG. "We had this wealth of dressed sets in New Orleans and in Vancouver, and could take cues from how degraded and overgrown they were to extrapolate them all the way up California Street in San Francisco," Winquist says. "Matt [Reeves] and his director of photography, Michael Seresin, gave us lush, beautiful plate photography to work from." To create the digital shots in San Francisco, the Weta Digital crew spent several days docu- menting the location using Lidar scans and gigapixel panoramic photography. Then, the artists built on that using 3D assets and 2.5D matte paintings. A power plant in New Orleans stood in for San Francisco's Fort Point location, which in the film became a FEMA staging area for weapon stockpiles. Weta Digital artists removed smoke stacks from the plates and added the Golden Gate Bridge behind. M O C A P, W E A T H E R O R N O T Within those beautiful locations were cast members of the ape community who joined Andy Serkis (Caesar) on set. Actor Terry Notary again performed Rocket, a chimpanzee who is Caesar's second-in-command, and Karin Konoval returned as Caesar's third-in-command, an orangutan named Maurice. Koba, a fierce bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee) took on a larger role than in the last film with the help of actor Toby Kebbell. In addition, actors playing other hero apes were on set, too. "The key to this whole pro- cess, the way we've done these films, is that we've worked with really talented human actors," Winquist says. "They are the characters. Andy is Caesar. Toby is Koba. Karin is Maurice. Their performances. Their decisions on set. These human actors working with the director are the backbone of the digital characters." As before, Weta Digital captured the actors' perfor- mances on location during filming using motion-capture cameras, helmet-mounted facial rigs, and spots of LEDs on the actors' bodies. "This was the first time we filmed entirely on location," says Konoval. "The weather created a visceral environment – we were there. But we were in some incredible stressful environ- ments. It was wet and muddy." Anticipating the challenges of shooting in funky weather on location with several hero apes, the Weta Digital crew took lessons they'd learned CAESAR, AT LEFT AND ABOVE ON HORSEBACK, LEADS HIS FELLOW APES THROUGH A SET BUILT IN THE STREETS OF NEW ORLEANS, ENHANCED BY SET DESIGNERS TO LOOK LIKE DECREPIT SAN FRANCISCO, AND AUGMENTED BY ARTISTS AT WETA DIGITAL.

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