Spielberg Talks About the Motion-Capture Technology of Tintin
02.24.10 by Ryan
Working on his upcoming adaptation of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn allowed veteran director Steven Spielberg to work with a new medium in his multi-decade career: motion capture technology. The process, which creates 3-D replicas of actors by outfitting them with body suits covered in reflective lenses and tracking their movements with 100 cameras, was familiar to producer Peter Jackson, who used the technology for much of his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson, whose WETA Workshop is handling the animation duties, will direct the sequel.
Tintin actor Nick Frost has described the motion-capture process as being "like rehearsing a play", and Spielberg too has found the process very liberating. Spielberg told The LA Times that he "adored" working with performance-capture
It made me more like a painter than ever before. I got a chance to do so many jobs that I don't often do as a director. You get to paint with this device that puts you into a virtual world, and allows you to make your shots and block all the actors with a small hand-held device only three times as large as an Xbox game controller.
Captain Haddock [Andy Serkis, who is no stranger to motion-capture after undergoing the process to portray Gollum in the Lord of the Rings] runs across the volume [motion-capture stage], the cameras capture all the information of his physical and emotional moves. So as Andy Serkis runs across the stage, there's Captain Haddock on the monitor, in full anime, running along the streets of Belgium. Not
only are the actors represented in real time, they enter into a three-dimensional world.
Spielberg revealed that he chose to use motion-capture out of his respect for Hergé, the author and illustrator of the Tintin graphic novels.
It was based on my respect for the art of Hergé and wanting to get as close to that art as I could. Hergé wrote about fictional people in a real world, not in a fantasy
universe. It was the real universe he was working with, and he used National Geographic to research his adventure stories. It just seemed that live action would be too stylized for an audience to relate to. You'd have to have costumes that are a little outrageous when you see actors wearing them. The costumes seem to fit better when the medium chosen is a digital one.
Despite the heavy use of technology, Spielberg claims that audiences will still feel the humanity of the characters.
[The character of Tintin] will be Jamie Bell's complete physical and emotional performance. If Tintin makes you feel something, it's Jamie Bell's soul you're sensing.