Serkis Folk

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SerkisPeople 4854.jpg

Characters created with computer graphics over a motion-captured performance.

Named after the actor Andy Serkis, who was transformed by CGI wizardry into the characters of Gollum (from The Lord of the Rings) and King Kong for Peter Jackson's recent films. The trope name is a spin on the phrase "circus folk".

This can land in the Uncanny Valley if the CGI overlay doesn't quite work.

See also Ink Suit Actor, Conspicuous CG and Starring Special Effects.

Examples of Serkis Folk include:

Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The 2004 CGI adaptation of Shirow's Appleseed uses significant motion capture for all the characters.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Gollum, in Lord of the Rings, was the Trope Namer and Page Image. The team was aware of the Uncanny Valley effect, and used it to their advantage: the character was supposed to look dead-eyed and soulless.
  • Star Wars features a number of examples:
    • Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace was the first entirely CGI major character to be blended with live-action actors. Actor Ahmed Best acted on set wearing a Jar Jar hat for the benefit of the other actors, and was superimposed over by the CGI.
    • The actor also wore a perfect replica of Jar Jar's clothes, which, weirdly, were also replaced by C.G.I. This is because they were originally planning on just replacing the actor's head with CGI, and not the rest of the body. This was later changed as it was easier to just make the whole character from scratch, rather than stick a CGI head on existing footage.
    • Most of the non-Human Aliens in the prequels, as well as most of the droids and the clone warriors while in uniform.
  • Davy Jones (played by a CG Bill Nighy) and the crew of the Flying Dutchman in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, in their "monster" forms, with the exception of Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård, who was the only one who actually had to wear makeup and prosthetics instead of motion-capture gear). Also, Barbossa and his crew in their moonlit undead forms in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.
  • Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo from the 2002 live-action movie.
  • Titular character of Kangaroo Jack.
  • Mirror Mask featured a number of completely CGI characters.
  • Doctor Manhattan in the film adaptation of Watchmen. A combination of the actor's face, and a bodybuilder's physique.
  • For probably the first time in his career, Doug Jones did this in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
  • Robert Zemeckis has directed three films with all-Serkis Folk casts: The Polar Express, Beowulf (especially Grendel), and A Christmas Carol. He also produced the Serkis Folk-starring Monster House and Mars Needs Moms.
  • Sonny and the rest of the I Robot robots, with movements provided by the guy from Strictly Ballroom.
  • The Tintin movies are full of this, directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. And Andy Serkis even plays Captain Haddock, making it a literal example.
  • The Na'vi (real and Avatars) from James Cameron's Avatar.
  • At least a few of the Conspicuous CGI characters in Immortal.
  • A couple of monsters in Star Trek 2009.
  • Some of the ghosts in the Ghostbusters series are animated this way.
  • All of the alien "prawns" in District 9.
  • The penguins from Happy Feet, obviously. Mumbles' dance moves were provided by Savion Glover, the lead dancer/choreographer for Broadway's Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk".
  • In addition to Gollum, Andy Serkis portrayed King Kong in 2005 remake, and an intelligent chimp named Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
  • The Incredible Hulk in both movies (in the first one, director Ang Lee himself provided the motion capture), and also in The Avengers, with motion capture provided by Banner's actor Mark Ruffalo.
  • Dobby and Kreacher from Harry Potter (in the seventh film, they even decided to put stand-ins in the set instead of having actors acting with the empty).
  • The third and fourth Terminator movies have skeletonized robots done as this.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch is to voice as well as provide motion capture for the dragon Smaug in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit.
  • To avoid the problems with Two-Face's scarring in Batman Forever, the scarring received this treatment in The Dark Knight.
  • Final Fantasy the Spirits Within: Everyone. There are even cases of mo-capping for two.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Star Trek: Enterprise: The Xindi-Insectoids and Aquatics. (the other three races—the Arboreals, Reptilians, and Humanoids, were portrayed by normal actors.) From Star Trek: The Original Series, Rubber suit aliens the Gorn and...well, to be honest face painted on a background aliens the Tholians are redone as Serkis Folk in season 4.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Species 8472
  • The Na'ka'leen Feeder from Babylon 5. Also the Shadows, any Vorlon out of its suit, and the aliens of Sigma 957 when Ivanova confronts them.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2005): centurion-style Cylons.
  • Control, the warder of Martin Kove's alien prisoner character in Hard Time On Planet Earth.
  • Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons is an example of puppetry getting successfully updated into Serkis Folk. As an added homage to the original animation, dubbed Supermarionation in the original, the CGI used in the new series was called Hypermarionation.
  • In Stargate SG-1 the Asgard are at various times played by either puppets or Serkis Folk. On DVD, the difference between the two is quite noticeable, especially episodes where a puppet and a CGI character are in the same scene and on camera at once.
  • Sensei Kanoi Watanabe in Power Rangers Ninja Storm, while he's a guinea pig.
  • The "videogame characters" of Ace Lightning, in a way which was sometimes so limited that real characters and CGIs were rarely seen in physical contact.

Video Games[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Red vs. Blue: Season 8 saw Rooster Teeth beginning to use CGI and motion capture along with their usual machinima.
  • RWBY, another Rooster Teeth production, makes frequent use of motion-capture in just about everything but its elaborate fight sequences.