'Weta Digital's senior visual
effects supervisor Joe Letteri explains, "The motion capture we did with
Kong was a new way of using technology. It's a combination of things that
have been done in the past, but we've brought them together in a unique way.
We have created a system that's based on emotional states. It depends on us
figuring out all the muscles of the face and understanding the
correspondence between a human facial system and a gorilla facial system.
What that allows us to do is to look at how muscles work together to create
believable expressions. We then extract this muscle-by-muscle technique into
something that's much more emotional. The facial animation system for Kong
is the next generation of the facial system we built for Gollum." ...
'Once principal photography began,
Andy Serkis was called to be Kong for his fellow actors, providing on-set
reference and functioning as an emotionally present participant in the
scenes. During these instances, the actor performed in a custom-made Kong
suit - fitted with musculature, arm extensions and a hood that extended the
shoulders and created a no-neck look - that allowed Serkis to mimic the
physicality of a gorilla, such as walking on all fours. To supply Kong's
roaring, the sound department developed a "Kongalizer," a system that took
Serkis' wordless vocal responses (picked up by a headset mic), ran them
through a computer (which dropped the range and increased the size), and
then broadcast them through a wall of speakers in real time. For key,
intimate moments with Watts, the suited and Kongalized Serkis not only
partnered in the scene, but also provided sight lines for the actress, often
from the correct vantage point of 25 feet off the ground - accomplished by
raising the actor in a cherry picker.
'Peter Jackson elaborates, "Andy was
able to be on-set every day, and he was able to stand in for Kong. He's
obviously not 25 feet tall, but we were able to put him on ladders, up in
cherry pickers, do whatever we needed to do to make him the right height.
Most critically he was there for Naomi, who would be delivering this
incredible performance as Ann relating to Kong…and she had Andy to look at
and talk to. She had Andy's eyes to look into when she wanted to make these
moments as real as possible. I think it would be virtually impossible for an
actor to get that level of performance if they were just acting to a yellow
tennis ball on a stick. It just would never happen that way. So it was
critical to have somebody there."
'Serkis adds, "You know, these were
absolutely significant moment-to-moment emotions that were traded between
us. And so really, I could have been wearing anything. It was very much
through the eyes, but once we locked into each other…that was it. You have
to give as truthful a performance as in any other kind of film. I mean, Pete
makes fantasy films, but he does it through a dramatic keyhole so that there
is a sense of total reality."
'Watts comments, "I had no idea what
to expect. I had been told that a good two-thirds of the movie was opposite
Kong, so how would that translate into the performance? I thought, 'Okay,
I'm going to be looking at a mark on a stick and pretending there's a
connection…ooh, this is going to be hard.' But with Andy doing it, I had a
pair of eyes to look into, a soul to connect with - what a relief! And what
a privilege. I could not have done anything without him. I don't know that
there's another actor out there who could have done what he did with the
amount of preparation and work he put into it. It was mind-blowing on a
== from official production notes for King Kong