I’m one of those ignorant Americans who isn’t really sure what a Tintin is, so I have to feed off the enthusiasm of those in the know in anticipation of the comic adaptation The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. That enthusiasm is particularly noteworthy when it comes out of the mouth of director Steven Spielberg. Spielberg explains how the decision to shoot stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost using performance-capture technology was chosen out of deference to the artistic stylings of Tintin creator Hergé:
“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.”
Read more of what Spielberg had to say after the jump.
Spielberg and his crew employed 100 cameras to track the every twitch of his actors that allowed for a realistic and malleable 3D likeness. The director gushed to Hero Complex about the joys of the new technology:
“I just adored it. 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… When Captain Haddock runs across the volume, 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.”
This is still Spielberg, mind you — one of Hollywood’s finest sentimentalists. The heart won’t get lost among all the 1s and 0s. Spielberg promises:
“[The on-screen portrayal 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.”
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is scheduled for release on December 28. If all goes according to plan, Peter Jackson will direct the sequel.