Jar Jar Binks as a character is nobody's favorite, but the actor who brought Jar Jar to life in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace feels that some credit is due for the part that Jar Jar plays in film history, which was recently overlooked by another motion-capture veteran, Andy Serkis.
Recently, Andy Serkis, was part of a video created by Wired that was titled "Andy Serkis Breaks Down The History Of Motion Capture Performance." The video starts by mentioning how motion capture was first used in the medical and video game industries but then jumps straight into how Serkis used it in The Lord of the Rings movies. This has upset Ahmed Best, who took to Twitter to point out that in between those times, he helped pioneer motion capture in film as Jar Jar Binks.
Ahmed Best doesn't want to sound bitter, but it's clear that not being mentioned in a video that purports to be about the history of motion capture is frustrating to him. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was released two years before The Fellowship of the Ring and, as Best points out in later tweets, the work that he, and so many others, did to bring Jar Jar Binks to life helped set the standard for those that came later.
Jar Jar helped create The workflow, iteration process and litmus test for all CGI characters to this day on some days the code was being written in real time as I was moving.
One can only imagine what it's like to try and do motion capture work when there isn't even a final version of the code that makes it happen. To that end, Ahmed Best calls out several of the VFX people who helped create Jar Jar by name, including John Knoll and Rob Coleman, without whom Jar Jar couldn't have happened.
Say what you will about Jar Jar Binks as a character in the film, we could say plenty, but as a digital creation, he holds up remarkably well even today. It's difficult to argue that he wasn't a major part of the history of the medium. Best himself believes that Gollum owes more than a little to the Gungan.
There's a joke I like to use when talking about this stuff, Jar Jar walked so Gollum could run. Gollum ran so the Na'vi could fly.
As far as the reasons for Ahmed Best's frustration go, it's a bit of an odd situation. The Wired video is called "History of Motion Capture Performance" which would seem to be designed as a general history on the topic. Having said that, Serkis doesn't discuss any films that he personally wasn't a part of, so the subject matter isn't really all history, but his history. It feels like the real error was in the title of the video. If it was truly designed to tell the complete history then movies like The Phantom Menace and Avatar probably should have received a mention.