James Cameron is just like that cool kid with all the new toys. Except he uses millions of his own money to make the toys, create a demand and then sell the toys for a gigantic profit. I hated that kid.
Cameron’s new toy is nothing we haven’t seen before. The reason why Cameron is even in this conversation is because he took an old toy and made it insanely perfect. Motion capture, like I said, is nothing new. Cameron took it to a whole new level with Avatar, and it would only be so long until some other hotshot directors had their turn to get their hands on the technology. The first hotshot director to go crazy for Cameron’s toys is Steven Spielberg. Spielberg will use this technology to create a digital world for his newest film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which he’s co-producing with Peter Jackson.
Spielberg began production long before Avatar swept audiences. Tintin was already to be a digital production, but had Cameron’s new technology not done so well, what could we have expected? Not to sell films like The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol short, but I have an idea that we could expect something on par with those films. Now that Spielberg will be harnessing the same power that Avatar used, I can see why this seasoned Hollywood veteran is so excited.
Spielberg is no stranger to special effects. So I don’t really think we have to worry about his ability to utilize this new technology. But he sounded like an excited child though when he talked about it with Hero Complex. “I just adored it,” he explains. “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.” I know exactly what he is talking about too. I was at Dreamworks for a Monsters Vs. Aliens presentation. The directors let me hold a device like that, and walk around the digital environment of the film. Make no mistake, it is really cool. Imagine being able to watch yourself walking around a room (or cave, or stadium) that doesn’t exist, and having the ability to look up or down, or walk right to the edges of the room.
Much like with Avatar, the audience can end up feeling a lot more connected with these digital characters on screen. The new motion capture technology eliminates a lot of the negative effects of the earlier versions. The body movement and the eyes are much more natural and believable now. This also allows the actors performances to transcend the medium. Tintin already features an incredible physical actor in Andy Serkis, but the film will star Jamie Bell. The film’s success will heavily depend on Bell’s ability to master this medium. Spielberg went on to say “it 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.”