Using real animals in movies
At the premiere of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" last month, a clutch of impassioned animal activists gathered on Hollywood Boulevard. But they weren't there to throw red paint on fur-coat-wearing celebrities. Instead, one demonstrator -- dressed in a full-body monkey suit -- had arrived with a sign complimenting the filmmakers: "Thanks for not using real apes!"
The creative team behind "Apes" used motion-capture technology to create digitalized primates, spending tens of millions of dollars on technology that records an actor's performance and later layers it with computer graphics to create a final image -- in this case, one of a realistic-looking ape.
Yet "Apes" is more exception than the rule -- in fact, Hollywood has been hot on live animals lately: The nonprofit American Humane Assn., which monitors the treatment of animals in filmed entertainment, is keeping tabs on more than 2,000 productions this year, 100 more than in 2010. Already, a number of high-profile 2011 films, including "Water for Elephants," "The Hangover Part II" and "Zookeeper," have drawn the ire of activists who say the creatures featured in them haven't been treated properly.
In some cases, it's not so much the treatment of the animals on set that has activists worried; it's the off-set training and living conditions that are raising concerns. And there are questions about U.S. films made overseas, which sometimes are not monitored as closely as productions filmed stateside.
(c) AFP 08/14/2011
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