The visual effects team of "The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug" has just released a featurette showing how the combination of Benedict Cumberbatch's motion capture performance and a team of animators brought the dragon Smaug to life.
Cumberbatch was not only the voice behind the fictitional dragon in the movie but he embodied the character as well. He told Vulture that he expressed his interest to simulate the dragon's movements through a motion-capture technology during film. Director Peter Jackson agreed and allowed the actor to mimic the dragon instead of just doing a voice-over for the creature.
"It just has to be a reference or an ideal to it. They used lots with my hands and face, as the claws but I obviously do not have a tail, cannot breathe fire, do not fly and I am not cold-blooded or made of scales. If you try to move horizontally, squeeze you legs together with hunched shoulders and crawl on your hands, it syncs up with what you can actually do with your voice, which with Smaug is obviously very awesome. It got to a point where it was already killing my voice. "
Cumberbatch reportedly studied lizards so he can embody some reptilian movement properly but still found it very difficult. "I spent lots of time studying Komodo dragons and iguanas and other reptiles at the London Zoo to get the reptilian movement in my body. But Christ! It is pretty hard to articulate it," Cumberbatch said.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Flickering Myth, visual effects supervisor Matt Aitken gave a few teasers about "Hobbit: There and Back Again." "There is going to be a battle and it will be spectacular. Film one was the setting, knowing the characters and everyone on the way. Film two was the consolidation of all that and knowing what drives Bilbo and Thorin for the quest of his homeland. Film three is the payoff for all of that," he said.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" reportedly earned $33.04 million in its first three show days in China, capping a very successful February for the world's second biggest movie market. The movie will hit the theaters on Dec. 18.