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Style it like Caesar

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Make like the Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes star with the new wave of highly evolved luxury tailoring

Ice white lightweight wool jacket £620, white rough-cut cotton shirt with shawl collar £285, ice wool single-pleated rough-cut trousers £305 and white leather American Derby shoes £460 all by EMPORIO ARMANI

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Cotton and silk jacket £1,345, shirt £675, cotton and silk trousers £670 and leather shoes £325 all by ROBERTO CAVALLI

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Cotton and wool suit from £2,148, cotton shirt from £360, tie from £135 and shoes from £490 all by DOLCE & GABBANA

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Grey stretch flannel cardigan jacket £1,110, white poplin classic evening shirt £375, black silk and wool bowtie £105 all by GUCCI

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The lowdown on how we created the coolest swinger in town

When our editor had the idea to do a style shoot with a computer-generated chimpanzee model, we thought he’d been drinking in the stationery cupboard. Again.

Turns out he had, but it was still a great idea, so we took it to 20th Century Fox and the CG wizards behind Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (and The Lord Of The Rings), New Zealand-based Weta Digital. Not only did they love it, they said it was possible – and cleaner than putting a real chimp in a suit.

So, we went to work. Our style team – who wanted ‘Caesar’ in high-end tailoring – and art team put together a shoot using a human model (a dancer who could produce suitably muscular poses) and, as a lighting reference for Weta, a silver ball on a stick (known as a greysphere). We sent our favourite shots to Erik Winquist, visual effects supervisor, and his team in New Zealand.

“To my knowledge, this is Weta’s first foray into high fashion photography,” he says. “The process wasn’t that different. A virtual camera was matched to the photographs, with the same lens properties and distance to the model. Our animation department then posed the simplified digital Caesar ‘puppet’ (pictured) so the head and hands aligned with the model’s. The complex facial puppet was also posed to just the right amount of simian ‘smoulder’ to match the model’s expression.

“That information went to our creatures department, where the pose was turned into full resolution 3D geometry, complete with fur groom. That was passed to our lighting department, setting up a virtual lighting rig that matched the look of what was in the photo studio and final renders were produced. The end result was integrated with the original photograph in Photoshop.”

Sounds simple enough.

But, as Winquist explains, there were puzzles to solve. “The biggest hurdles were dealing with the differences in the size and proportions of Caesar’s head and limbs,” he says. “The shoulders posed some challenges, in that the model has a long slim neck and square shoulders. Caesar has little neck to speak of and massive trapezius muscles connecting the base of his skull to his shoulders. Our compromise was to slightly warp the shoulders of the suits to conform to his anatomy.”

We received the images from Weta, freaked out at the incredible detail, and sent them to the original shoot’s photographer, Uzo Oleh, for retouching. The process took about three weeks to produce, and more than three months in total to plan. The results? We’d like to think you’ll agree, it was well worth it.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is at cinemas on 17 July

(Photography: Uzo Oleh; Model: Yemi Docemo @ AMCK MODELS)

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