The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with its photoreal visual effects, is sure to be a major factor in this year’s visual effects Oscar race. The bigger awards question surrounding the film, which 20th Century Fox will release Aug. 5, is whether Andy Serkis, the actor who portrays the ape Caesar, will be considered a contender for an acting nomination. That honor eluded him ten years ago when he played the tragic creature Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. That role, however, did launch an ongoing Hollywood debate about how much an actor contributes to CG characters who are created through performance capture. WETA Digital, the Wellington, N.Z.-based VFX company behind both Rings and Apes, has always maintained that the actor drives the performance of its CG creations. “Performance capture (is) really (designed) to give you the actors’ moment–the spontaneity, the thought, the insight that really comes from an actor who really truly understands his role,” says WETA’s four-time Oscar winning VFX supervisor Joe Letteri. More..