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Terry Notary is Instructing the Next Generation of Performance Capture Talent

The ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ actor will lead a workshop for aspiring CG character actors.
Terry Notary Planet Of The Apes
By  · Published on May 3rd, 2018

The ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ actor will lead a workshop for aspiring CG character actors.

Most people associate performance capture with Andy Serkis, and he’s definitely the most famous actor working in that arena. But Terry Notary is another person you should know for his contributions in the growing field of CG-character simulation. He acted alongside Serkis as in the Planet of the Apes movies, as Rocket, he starred as King Kong in Kong: Skull Island, and currently his talent can be seen in the portrayals of both Teen Groot and the Black Order villain Cull Obsidian in Avengers: Infinity War. In human form, he has an uncomfortably memorable scene as a performance artist in the recent Oscar-nominated Swedish film The Square.

Serkis himself would like us to know Notary better, stating:

“Think of any movie in recent times populated by extraordinary characters — the chances are Terry Notary will have played a key role in creating them. To say that he is the world’s leading performance coach would be selling him short. Terry is no less than a genius at drawing out potential, a highly gifted and inspiring master at connecting the human body to emotion, and the heart, mind, and physicality to a character’s soul. To work with him is to experience a journey into the most truthful form of physical expression.”

Those who wish to take that journey with him are now invited to do so. Next month, Notary will lead a workshop to impart his expertise to a new generation of hopeful performance capture actors. While the techniques for this type of acting are beginning to be taught more at universities with the resources to do so, including NYU, Georgia Tech, and Vancouver Film School, learning directly from one of the most prominent figures in this domain has to be particularly beneficial for someone looking to be the next ape or alien in a major motion picture — or any character in a video game.

Notary says of the distinct discipline of performance capture in a statement announcing this masterclass:

“Like an elite athlete or a trained musician, an actor too must discover the delicate balance of the mind and body. It is in this place that one can allow the effortless state of expression to reveal itself.”

The workshop, titled “Character and Movement,” will be held at Animatrik’s Vancouver studio, the largest independent performance capture facility in North America, where Notary has “shot” many of his scenes for various blockbusters. He has also served as a choreographer and movement coach for other actors during these movies’ production, so he’s no stranger to training people in his craft. Directors are also invited to participate in the workshop, and Notary will be instructing how filmmakers can best communicate and collaborate with actors for performance capture.

Whether training with Notary or not, tomorrow’s crop of actors should be encouraged to learn and become experienced in the art of performance capture. Never mind that video games are becoming a more and more lucrative arena for actors, but as Hollywood continues to focus on superhero and monster movies and sci-fi and fantasy films in general, including majority-CG features like Avatar, the need for such skills are increasing. Someday maybe even the Academy Awards will finally recognize performances of this kind, either in existing acting categories or, as such work continues to be a norm in the industry, with a separate award.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.