Andy Serkis is one of those guys whose influence on the industry is just starting to be fully understood, and I have a feeling we've got a lot of great work from him still to come.

Part of what will make Serkis so significant in any future conversations about performance capture is timing.  He happened to be the guy who had the right skill set at the right moment, just as the technology started to come of age.  But part of it is because he has embraced this moment with a joy and with a sense of invention and adventure, and it seems like other actors are having that experience, too, but that Serkis really is the pioneer.

It's great that he returned to Gollum because it serves as a very stark comparison between the state-of-the-art at opposite ends of a decade, and while you may not see a major leap forward from year to year, if you lay "The Two Towers" Gollum and the "Hobbit" Gollum side-by-side, it's a night and day experience.  More and more of the subtle work that Serkis does is making its way into these characters now, and what was one inspiration is now direct manipulation.

Serkis also worked as the second-unit director on the film, a major contribution to a picture this size, and he's working to generate material on his own now.  His new performance-capture company is producing films, and I'm excited to see what "Animal Farm" looks like under his guidance.  It's the perfect story to tell using these tools, and I have a feeling Serkis is going to find lots of exciting stories to bring to the screen with his company.

Later today, I'll have my conversation with Ian McKellen for you, and it's a great one.  It really did feel like checking in with old friends to be interviewing these familiar faces about these familiar characters once again.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" opens in theaters everywhere this Friday.