Weta Digital has released a new video showing behind-the-scenes footage of Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Smaug the Golden in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
“Our challenge with Smaug was making him every bit as engaging and believable as his live-action counterparts,” David Clayton from Weta Digital told The Hollywood Reporter “Using our motion-capture stage, we recorded his performances, which focused on the conversation with Bilbo sequence. Having Benedict in a mocap suit was lots of fun — for us, and hopefully for him, too — and seemed to help get him immersed and home in on the character.”
“The translation of performance from Benedict to Smaug wasn’t a one-to-one match like you’d get from a humanoid creature. They have very different physiologies,” Clayton explained. “As animators we had to transpose the elements of Benedict’s performance that were critical to the shot, such as head nuances and facial expressions. We then built up the majority of his motion with keyframe animation” –meaning that it was animated by hand.
“Smaug needed a formidable presence, so we worked hard to craft impressive poses for his massive body, wings and tail. He also covered a full range of moods — from supreme arrogance to paranoid suspicion, from curiosity to violent rage. Adding to his versatility as a character was the creation of his hands. We achieved this by adding a thumb and extra forefingers to Smaug’s wings.”
Watch the full video below.