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Steven Spielberg‘s Adventures of Tintin is one of two movie presentations that have a lot riding on them at Comic-Con this year (Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man is the other). Geeks inside and outside of Hollywood have been subjecting it to tough questions about the motion-capture technology and whether the Europe-centric hero can make a splash in America.
Friday’s Hall H presentation, however, handily won fans over with a combination of great footage, insightful talk from Spielberg and surprise guest Peter Jackson (the movie’s producer), The presentation ended with one of the better audience interactions that Hall H has ever seen.
There has been much debate over whether mo-cap was the way to go with the adaptation of the books by Herge, and the trailers have divided fans, some who are turned off by the technology, citing Polar Express as the nadir of the mo-cap-used movies.
The extended footage shown, most of which consisted of Tintin interacting with a source, then later with Captain Haddock, smacked those concerns aside. And the action scenes had a propulsive feel to them, also impressive.
Spielberg and Jackson talked about how the Tintin books influenced them (Spielberg discovered them as an adult after a French reviewer consistently compared his Raiders of the Lost Ark to them, while Jackson was reading them before he knew how to actually read). The duo spent much time talking about why they chose motion-capture, deflecting the criticism and communicating the point that Spielberg wasn’t directing the movie from a distance but on the ground.
“We wanted to create a vision of animation and motion-capture that allowed Steven to step inside that world,” Jackson said. “He stepped in and filmed it like a live action movie. He had the camera in his hands.”
“This is much more of a direct-to-canvas artform,” Spielberg continued, describing how he was able to see (not fully-rendered, of course) the world of Tintin while direting actors on a stage space they called the Volume.
Jackson also said that motion capture also opens up the acting pool. “This is the film that you can cast Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as twins,” he boasted.
Spielberg also pointed out that the technology has evolved quite a bit from Polar Express to Avatar. “We were the beneficiaries of that technology,” he said.
During the Q&A, the filmmakers addressed their influences and which of the movies they produced that they would have liked to direct. Actor and frequent Jackson collaborator Andy Serkis set the tone when he appeared as a wigged-out and nervous fan.
Spielberg also confirmed The Hollywood Reporter’s story from June 15 about a fourth Jurassic Park movie (“Hopefully we’ll make it in the next two or three years.”), while Jackson said he was developing a return to horror.
Spielberg also praised the occasional criticism he’s taken from fanboys: “You don’t love me all the time. You love me some time. And you take us to task. It keeps us honest. Keep taking us to task,” he said.
The highlight came from a fan wearing a t-shirt saying that all he wants to do is shake hands with Spielberg. Before the man could utter a word, the filmmakers were waving him up to the stage, with the crowd cheering him on as both Spielberg and Jackson took photos and moderator Geoff Boucher observed, “This is the most directed photograph in history.”
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