10 Best Motion Capture Performances

Remarkable and compelling work from celebrated thespians wearing facial dots and onesies...

Hobbit Gollum Serkis
Warner Bros

Motion/performance capture (mo-cap) is a filmmaking tool that has revolutionized VFX-heavy filmmaking in the 21st Century through its precise capture of an actor's movements, posture, and facial expressions to create an otherworldly character that simply cannot be brought to life through make-up and/or prosthetics due to budgetary or logistical constraints.

Well-utilized CGI blended with motion capture can be used to effectively realize beings that are too large, small or just flat-out weird/fantastical. However, all this would not be possible without the actors behind the mo-cap dots and cameras humanizing these digital avatars. Without said actors, they would be simple digital creations devoid of life and personality; nice to look at but hollow and cold.

This list covers 10 of the most accomplished motion capture performances given by actors in film since the tech's inception. These performances were able to overcome skepticism from the film community and become classic works of art that stand tall and proud next to more traditional forms of acting.

10. Toby Kebbell As Koba (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes)

Hobbit Gollum Serkis
20th Century Fox

Toby Kebbell brought life to Koba, the tortured and scarred bonobo adviser of ape leader Caesar in Matt Reeves' first go at 20th Century Fox's then-new Planet of the Apes trilogy. The character was initially portrayed by stuntman Christopher Gordon in the first film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

He did an admirable job bringing life to a younger and less vicious version of the simian antagonist. That said, Kebbell brought a whole new dimension to the role that defined Koba as a dangerous threat with a sympathetic motivation for his actions.

His distinctive facial scarring hints at an abusive past at the hands of human scientists and the audience immediately empathizes with his actions. He admires Caesar but cannot understand why he's so lenient on a group of human survivors and would rather the apes take pre-emptive action against the humans.

Kebbell perfectly captures Koba's rage, pain and frustration and expresses

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