Final Shot of 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Directed Over Skype
The special effects in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are simply mind-blowing. It's truly incredible that we've reached this level of technology in filmmaking to be able to create a film where half the characters are motion-capture performance fueled, digitally created apes who give performances that are no less genuine and powerful than their human counterparts. But there's one other surprising way that technology helped complete the sci-fi sequel, and it's truly a one of a kind element that put director Matt Reeves in a rather interesting situation for the director. Would you believe the final shot of the film was directed over Skype?
Speaking with SlashFilm, Reeves laid out the scenario for how this situation arose:
"This is the first movie where I’ve ever directed scenes over Skype. And mo-cap enables you to do that. And actually that last shot, when I realized that that was not the right ending, I went to Weta and I said, okay, so we gotta do something different. And they’re like, well you’re gonna need a performance. So we did a thing where Andy was in London and he was at [his performance capture studio] the Imaginarium. And we hooked up via Skype and I looked at a big plasma and I talked him through what was going on in that last sequence as he’s coming down those steps. And we basically did it over Skype.
And then I got the take that I liked and I gave it to Weta and I said, okay, here it is. Go get to work. And they very quickly brought it to life under, you know, that was a crazy crash course. I was getting worried about that. I was like oh God, this is so late. And, you know, can you guys do this? And they’re like, we think we can do this. Our pipeline is set up and we have enough familiarity with how to do Caesar that we think that if you can get us the performance you want, that we can give you the shot that you want. And literally the final shot of the movie was the final shot that was finalized."
So Matt Reeves directed this final scene and a few others with Andy Serkis and some of the actors being over a thousand miles away from each other, while the director himself was over 6,300 miles away from them. Reeves went on to discuss one of the other scenes they went back and fixed with the help of Skype:
But there were other scenes, too, where I went back and wanted to change things that we’d already shot. And so Jason Clarke was in Rome shooting this Everest movie and he was in a hotel room after a day’s shooting. And we were on the Volume [in Manhattan Beach California] and he was performing the new version of the scene to Andy who was in a fluorescent room and he was on Skype. And they played off of Skype and then a few weeks later I went back and shot, I got Jason here in L.A. and I shot him and Keri Russell against greenscreen. And then I had Andy over Skype and they played to Andy on Skype. And I got that. And then we put that whole sequence together and that’s all been in the last six weeks. So it’s crazy what you can do.
No one is confident enough to claim whether or not this is the first time reshoots like this on a major studio film have been done over Skype, but Reeves notes, "That kind of thing has been done where somebody is on a set somewhere and you send a crew and they get a shot of him against green screen. Like, 'Oh, we couldn’t get him to come to L.A.' or wherever you are. But the idea of actors actually acting over the Internet off of each other, that’s gotta be a first." He then added jokingly, "I’m gonna take credit for the first. How about that?" See if you can tell what was shot over Skype when the film hits theaters this weekend. Impressed?