In an interview with Screendaily, Mr. Motion Capture himself, Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Hobbit), spoke about his upcoming project: a computer-animated adaptation of the classic George Orwell novel, Animal Farm. Serkis, who will be making his directorial debut, said the film will be done entirely through motion capture. As anyone who’s read the book knows, the cast is made up almost entirely of various farm animals, so barring animation, the only other option for making the film was to use real animals or animatronics (a la Babe). Serkis described the process of using motion capture to create the characters: “the physicality and facial expressions of all the animals will come directly from actors’ performances.” This sounds not too different from Serkis’s performance as King Kong in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake or his work as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes; in both films, Serkis had no lines (save for a few brief important instances in Apes) but through motion capture, his face, movement, and emotions gave humanity to non-humans – which will be appropriate considering the creatures of Animal Farm are considered metaphors for human ideas and conditions.
Animal Farm has been adapted several times already, including a generally well-received animated adaptation in 1954, and a 1999 made-for-TV version which featured puppets created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, and voice performances by Kelsey Grammer and Patrick Stewart.
On the upcoming adaptation, Serkis said, “principal photography will take place in the middle to third quarter of next year.”