While James Cameron was busy filming Avatar in New Zealand he invited a number of filmmakers to take a look at his new performance-capture technology, two of which were directors Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg who, after playing around with the cameras on the Avatar set, decided to make Tintin.
Spielberg completed filming on Tintin a year ago after a mere 32 days of shooting and Peter Jackson has since been working with WETA on the special effects. They won’t be creating 10 foot tall Na’vi, but they will be creating something equally amazing.
Spielberg recently spoke to the Los Angeles Times about making Tintin, which he says he “just adored”.
“I just adored it,“ he says. “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.”
With that small monitor, Spielberg could look down and watch what the actors were doing — in real time — on a screen that showed them in the film universe. Working on the motion-capture stage — which is called the volume — Spielberg was routinely dazzled by the liberating artistic value of the new science.
“When Captain Haddock runs across the volume, the cameras capture all the information of his physical and emotional moves,” the director said. “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.”
So though Jamie Bell will be digitally made to look exactly like Hergé’s classic renderings of Tintin, “it will be Jamie Bell’s complete physical and emotional performance,” Spielberg said. He added: “If Tintin makes you feel something, it’s Jamie Bell’s soul you’re sensing.”
Tintin isn’t that well known in the United States, however the graphic novel series has sold over 200 million copies worldwide so I’m sure there will be a few people looking forward to this as much as I am.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn will be released on December 23rd 2011 in the US, and October/November in Europe (where it’s key audience will be). Peter Jackson is expected to begin work on the sequel sometimes over the next year or so, with the script and animatics already complete.