Monday, November 01, 2010

Spielberg's (Semi) Animated Feature

So Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Jackson have made their Tintin features and the first images are out:

... “With live action you’re going to have actors pretending to be Captain Haddock and Tintin,” says Peter Jackson. “You’d be casting people to look like them. It’s not really going to feel like the Tintin Hergé drew. It’s going to be somewhat different. With CGI we can bring Hergé’s world to life, keep the stylised caricatured faces, keep everything looking like Hergé’s artwork, but make it photo-real.” ...

Our questions:

#1 How many people know who Tintin actually is?

#2 And how big a market for Motion Capture is there, anyway?

Cameron made it work in "Avatar", but Zemeckis didn't break any box office records with "Christmas Carol". We'll find out soon enough.


Anonymous said...

I love animation.

I'm glad this isn't animation, 'cause it's ugly and I don't like it. It looks cheap and tasteless. At least Zemeckis had the brains to go for all out BAD taste instead of NO taste.

Anonymous said...

1: Me (having watched the old Nelvana animated version from the 90's), and my own younger-generation relatives who checked the comics off of library shelves without ever having heard of the character--Yeah, and Asterix, too. (Although I'd already read them at the same age in doctor's offices.)

2: A LOT less than there was before November '09.

(As someone from Answer #1, though, was I the only one who had been optimistically expecting, you know, some kind of solid version of Herge's comics, in the same art style?
How silly of me to forget that Spielberg and Zemeckis were still buddies, and that Spielberg thought it might've been "neat" to do his own Beowulf.)

Anonymous said...

While your first question is legitimate (and I suspect you're not bringing up anything new to Spielberg) your second question is one the general audience doesn't think about nearly as hard as anyone on this board (or Amid's rag either).
The audience doesn't care if it's motion capture, keyframed or magic. They just care about whether they want to see the movie and not how the film was artistically achieved...

Anonymous said...


You're making the Ameri-centric mistake of considering only the U.S. audience.

It's true that most Americans are not familiar with Tintin. However, it's about the ONLY country that isn't immersed in Tintin, which enjoys huge international recognition, even 35 years after the last book was made.

Spielberg and Jackson are taking pains to be true to the books for the benefit of worldwide fans, while introducing the characters to Americans.

As for motion capture, I agree with the above commenter. Most movie-goers won't have any idea, or care, whether it's motion-captured vs. keyframed. They will only care if it's a good flick or not. As to that, well, I'm remaining a bit skeptical.

Anonymous said...

If "the audience doesn't care how", why has Zemeckis never had a keyframed hit, like, ever? (Yes, even Polar Express tanked in 2-D theaters without the cool glasses, which back then were appearing for the first time.)
The audience is not "dumb", and they are aware that you can get a better movie from an artist who thinks animation is hard, then from a non-artist who thinks animation is "easy".

A poster on another forum posted a shot of maquette statues of the comic characters, to show what real 3-D versions of the characters would've looked like without Peter Jackson's ambitions to make them "all real!" through the magic of Cool WETA Stuff.
I still want to see that movie.

Anonymous said...

Based on the two images I just linked to, I think this looks great. It's in character with the comic album artwork and I think it'll be a huge hit. Zemeckis always tried to make his mocap images look like real people, but this makes the mocap look like comic art characters. I think it works better in that regard. Also, the comic album art gives them something to emulate stylistically, instead of a weird-looking live action look. With Tintin they're not depicting people, they're depicting cartoon characters. Works better.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:54 -

Seeing as US domestic box office accounts for usually half a movies takings, it's very important to have the American public know who he is. Also, the US is not the only country that probably doesn't know about Tintin. You can count most of the Asian, African and South American countries too, and all that's left is Europe which usually only accounts for 15% - 25% of the worldwide BO.

Finally, if this is the way the US is being introduced to these characters for the first time, I cringe.

Anonymous said...

very disappointing ... could have been more hyperreal with better colors .. and why is everything in shadow, are they afraid of showing details ? what happened to poor Snowy, he looks Undead and moth eaten !
at least for publicity they could have photoshopped something better

Anonymous said...

Amazing that people can be such huge fans of something like Tintin, and completely misunderstand what makes it work. This quote is telling:

With CGI we can bring Hergé’s world to life, keep the stylised caricatured faces, keep everything looking like Hergé’s artwork, but make it photo-real.

EVERYTHING in Tintin's world is stylised, and more importantly, it's all simplified and cleaned up. Key elements (like the vehicles) are enhanced to be almost diagrammatic, so they look more real than real. There is no attempt at photo-real. Instead, details are subordinated and mostly eliminated, and textures dropped out.

The character's personalities are also caricatured and simplified, so that they work with the simplified faces. They're also surprisingly expressionless, which works well enough with Herge's framing (lots of long and medium shots) and his storytelling (characters tend to say out loud what they're thinking or what they plan to do). A film won't work so well with that technique, so now these simplified characters will have to act, and their performances will have to carry the story. But giving complex performances to Tintin characters is going to take this far out of Herge's world.

Looking at those images, this one looks like it's pretty deep into the uncanny valley, and the 'dead eyes' problem still hasn't been solved.

Anonymous said...

If it's done by those guys I'm sure it will be good and agaging. I just hope to god that no one worked any unpaid overtime on it.

Justin said...

I'm very interested to see how this turns out because the only person to attempt a fully animation mo-capped movie has been Zemeckis. We'll find out if it really is a problem with the technology or with the director.

Anonymous said...

And I know nobody outside of a 1% ever claims to watch Nickelodeon, but I'm sorry, I MUST righteously stand up for the Americans (and Canadians) who've heard of Tintin, and not just from school libraries either:

(Make it solid--and on a bigger budget than 90's cable animation--and that's what the movie should have looked like. It just doesn't seem that hard to figure.)

Anonymous said...

Why does America knowing "who Tintin actually is?" even matter?

Knowing the source material doesn't guarantee success or failure of a movie. No one had heard of Despicable Me before it was released and earned 250 million domestically. Alternatively, many had heard of A Christmas Carol and it had limited success.

The Legends of the Guardians were known by kids in the US but the movie still only made 50 million domestically. And
the stories of Avatar and the non-sequel Pixar films were unknown yet were still major blockbusters. Yes, the latter examples is because they were by Cameron and Pixar respectively, but this movie is by Spielberg and Jackson who are just as big/if not bigger names in movies.

LeDidole said...

I am French and Tintin is a huge part of my childhood. By making this so dark/murky/real/uncanny valley treatment of those beloved characters, they just don't understand the logic behind. And they spent all this time and efforts to make it so real, yet, they cannot manage to respect the original design: his socks are gray? They should be white... I am already pissed by this movie!

Why no respect for the original sources? And don't get me started with the ugly 3D smurfs movie... Argh!

billburgnyc said...

LeDidole, I had the same reaction to the dark socks. Then I went back and looked at the comics "Crab with the Golden Claws" and "Secret of the Unicorn" (on which the film is based).

Dark socks!

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