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Steven Spielberg falls in love (with new film technology)

by Danielle Berrin

February 19, 2010 | 1:09 pm

Some people think technology disables art, while others think it can create art. After completing his latest project, the internationally bestselling graphic novel “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” director Steven Spielberg has fallen into the latter camp.

In a rare interview with L.A. Times reporter Rachel Abramowitz, Spielberg talks about the pleasures of using performance-capture technology, the same technique James Cameron used in “Avatar.” The new rage in Hollywood, motion-capture technology is a way for cameras to model the emotional and physical expressions of actors and transfer them to a digital character.

After directing films like “Indiana Jones,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Jurassic Park” the old fashioned way, Spielberg is relishing the experience of the new medium.

“I just adored it,“ he told Abramowitz. “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.”

While some actors worry the technology may replace them, this particular method needs actors. In order for it to work, there must be a performance to “capture”—though it doesn’t require an actor’s real physical presence on screen, but rather a computer generated animation.

Spielberg tells the Times why he was inspired to make the film:

“It was based on my respect for the art of Hergé and wanting to get as close to that art as I could,” says the director, referring to Tintin’s author-illustrator, who created the international blockbuster graphic novel series (200 million copies in print) starring intrepid cub reporter Tintin, and his irrepressible canine companion, Snowy, as they venture through the pre-WWII world.

“Hergé wrote about fictional people in a real world, not in a fantasy universe,” Spielberg said. “It was the real universe he was working with, and he used National Geographic to research his adventure stories. It just seemed that live action would be too stylized for an audience to relate to. You’d have to have costumes that are a little outrageous when you see actors wearing them. The costumes seem to fit better when the medium chosen is a digital one.”

Read more at the L.A. Times



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew blog, a cutting edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry for jewishjournal.com. A Los Angeles Times profile dubbed her...

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