Andy Serkis as Caesar

Andy Serkis as Caesar

Motion capture is an ever-evolving aspect of movies, with actors delivering terrific performances but never appearing on the big screen. 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is released this week and is packed with motion capture performances that are already getting rave reviews.

We celebrate the art of motion capture and take a look at some of the best performances in recent years.

- Andy Serkis as Caesar

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released back in 2011, and saw Andy Serkis take on the central role of ape Caesar.

Serkis delivered a knockout performance as Caesar, and really did steal the show. He delivered a character that is well developed, believable and one that an audience really connects with and feels for.

Serkis played this character with a heart and soul - when you see the people he loves leave him behind, you really do feel the pain and the heartbreak he feel pour off the screen.

For me, Serkis' performance as Caesar really did elevate this film to make it a great summer blockbuster.

We have seen other films in this franchise use make-up and prosthetics to create the ape characters, and it has never really worked. Motion capture really does bring a realism to the look of these creatures while capturing a true performance from the actor.

- Mark Ruffalo as Hulk

In the summer of 2012, we saw Mark Ruffalo take over the role of Bruce Banner aka the Hulk for the first time in Avengers Assemble.

This time around, we really did see more of Ruffalo in Hulk, as Joss Whedon used motion capture.

Not only did Whedon use the performance from Ruffalo for the film, but Ruffalo's facial features were used for the look of the character.

It is great to see the actor in both aspects of this character: you really can see Ruffalo in the face of Hulk.

Filming on Avengers: Age of Ultron is underway and Ruffalo has revealed he has been consulting with Serkis to help develop this character ever further.

Ruffalo has promised further development of this character, and I really cannot wait to see his what they deliver. A solo film could also be on the horizon.

- Sam Worthington & Zoe Saldana as Jake & Neytiri

Avatar is a film that really paved the way when it came to 3D film, and so few movies have lived up to that standard since its released back in 2009.

Sam Worthing and Zoe Saldana were on board as the central character Jake & Neytiri, while James Cameron was in the director's chair.

Avatar was a complete CGI performance from Saldana, while we saw two sides to the character of Jake: Jake the man, and Jake the Na'vi.

Cameron had waited to make this movie to allow technology to catch up with his vision. The film saw Cameron use a motion capture stage that was six times larger than any other as well as a new way to capture facial expressions.

This allowed all of the actors to thrown themselves into their performances - Worthington & Saldana in particular had very physical performances - and create well-rounded and fantastic looking characters.

Avatar became the first film to gross over $2 billion, and a sequel is on the way.

- Andy Serkis as Gollum

We have already looked at one Andy Serkis performance, but you cannot talk about motion capture without discussing his role as Gollum.

The Lord of the Ring was widely regarded as a book that could never be made into a film, but director Peter Jackson took up that challenge in the nineties.

Serkis was brought on board to play Gollum, as Jackson planned us use the physical performance of the actor to create the CGI character.

As well as Serkis' movements, his facial features were also used to help build the look of Gollum: he also lent his voice to the character.

Gollum was one of the standout technical achievements in LOTR and is one of the most iconic cinema characters of all time.

However, we did get to see Serkis himself on the big screen at the beginning of Return of the King.

- Seth McFarlane as Ted

Ted was one of the most successful comedy movies when it hit the big screen back in 2012, as Seth McFarlane made his directorial debut.

As well as being in the director's chair, McFarlane also penned the screenplay and took on the character of Ted.

Motion capture was used to bring Ted to life and performed on set with co-star Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis: this really allowed them to bounce of each other and the comedy to naturally flow.

This was the first time that we had really see motion capture used in a comedy movie in this way, and it really allowed for Ted to become a larger than life character.

- Jim Carrey as Scrooge

A Christmas Carol was given a 3D and motion capture makeover in 2009, as Robert Zemeckis returned to the director's chair.

A Christmas Carol also saw Zemeckis return to the motion capture animation format, having worked on the likes of Polar Express and Beowulf earlier in his career.

I am a huge fan of A Christmas Carol and the motion capture format really did bring the animation format alive.

Jim Carrey took on the central role of Scrooge, and he is really allowed to shine through by using this format.

Carrey gives a terrific central performance, as Scrooge goes on an amazing journey that changes his life. This format allows the audience really get to know this character and share in his adventure.

Other great motion capture performances include Andy Serkis as King Kong, Billy Crudup as Dr Manhatten in Watchmen and Bill Night as Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is released 17th July.

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