In an extensive interview with the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog (conducted at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con), Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson discussed their new motion-captured animated adventure “The Adventures of Tintin.” While a lot of the interview covers ground that we’ve all heard before (like Jackson dressing as Captain Haddock in the live action screen test and Spielberg being turned onto ‘Tintin’ when European critics compared “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to it), but there are also some gems, like how Spielberg seemed artistically liberated by the freedom of the mo-cap world, but admitted he was probably a lousy fit for a traditionally animated movie.
Hero Complex brings up the fact that Spielberg had previously said that ‘Tintin’ made me “feel more like a painter” than ever in his career, which Spielberg was quick to explain. “I’ve been accustomed through my entire career of getting images to match the things I imagine by going through dozens if not hundreds of people over a long period of time,” he said. “I found myself on this project – in this particular medium – able to do not just a couple of jobs but to be able to do 15 or 20 jobs.” This has been our sensation for years, that the Spielberg Machine, made up of hundreds of super talented craftspeople, has a firm hand in assembling his films, with the director himself obviously shooting the thing and weighing in his opinion in key production departments such as where John Williams‘ music should overwhelm anything else.
Spielberg then went into what it allowed him to do, specifically. “It’s an art form that allows me to have control over lighting. I can underwrite or overwrite a performance and through the animators put [something into a performance] that even the actors didn’t bring to the bay. I’m pretty much able to push the camera – I’ve never been a dolly grip before – I’m able to be a focus-puller, I’ve never done that before. I have an effect on the hair and make up.”
But don’t expect Spielberg to jump behind the camera for the next “Shrek” or “Toy Story” installment. He seems to want to stick to motion-capture. “Live-action is the only way I know how to work,” Spielberg told Hero Complex. “I’d really be less comfortable working through animators the way conventional animation is done, like the way DreamWorks [Animation] and Pixar do many times a year. That would have been very difficult for me, working through many, many keyboard artists.”
Even Jackson admitted to being thrilled by watching Spielberg play, controlling the camera through a little joystick-like controller. “Steven operated the camera virtually for the entire film, which for me to watch was pretty exciting.”
You can see painterly results when “The Adventures Of Tintin” opens on December 21st.