Dialogue: Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson Talk ‘Tintin,’ Motion-Capture and Why They’re Code-Breakers

Dialogue: Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson Talk ‘Tintin,’ Motion-Capture and Why They’re Code-Breakers

Jul 23, 2011

Steven Spielberg Peter Jackson

The stars aligned today for many die-hard Steven Spielberg fans at Comic-Con. The filmmaking giant caused quite the roar in Hall H (read our report here), and fans almost lost it when Peter Jackson joined the presentation. Following the panel appearance Spielberg and Jackson held an intimate press conference and elaborated on all things The Adventures of Tintin, 3D, motion capture and collaborating with one another.

Here are a few things we learned.

1. Motion-capture is not a genre…it’s a tool.

Peter Jackson:
Motion capture is not a genre…it’s a tool and a technique and what we tried to do was to really use both motion-capture and traditional animation to build a system. [It was about being] able to walk into this sort of virtual world that we created with Tintin, with the characters, with the locations that had been built with the computer, to pick up a virtual camera and shoot a live-action movie inside this strange, hybrid, photo-real world. It wasn’t the photo-real world that was important; it was the way in which we could shoot a movie inside that world that we think the result is really interesting.

Steven Spielberg: The medium is not the message but the characters and the plot are. You’re going to forget that it’s 3D whether its widescreen or whatever it is, you’re going to forget everything if the movie is working.

2. Tintin was made by Spielberg for us.

Spielberg:
This movie I’m making for all of you. I mean, some movies I make for myself, I do that sometimes when the subject matter is very sensitive and very personal and I really can’t imagine that I’m an audience member. I would lose myself too much if I thought of myself as the audience. There are other types of genre films that I need to be able to direct from the audience, to be right next to you watching the picture being made and Tintin is such a movie.

3. Analog trumps the digital era.

Spielberg:
Well, it may be a digital era in terms of certain kinds of movies, but it’s still an analog era in terms of telling a good story. That’s the most important thing. There’s nothing of greater importance to either of us than the story.

4. Spielberg and Jackson surprisingly surprise each other.

Jackson:
Well, the thing that really surprised me I guess is, thinking about Steven’s huge body of work and the incredible films that he’s made that have affected all of us, I thought that Steven would have a process. You know, I was imagining that there would be a way in which Steven would make the movie and I was looking forward to seeing it. But, what I discovered, which was delightful in a way, is that Steven walks onto the set and it’s like the first time that he’s ever walked onto a film set. I mean, he’s literally childish, I mean that in a positive way, there’s a childish excitement that Steven brings to it, an enthusiasm that I wasn’t expecting and it’s very inspiring.

Spielberg: I was quite surprised at how patient and thoughtful that Peter is. He doesn’t let anything rattle him to where he becomes locked in indecision. He’s a problem solver. He likes to look at a challenge from several different angles and then, very methodically, he makes the best choice to solve the problem. In a sense, Peter is right. I get very, very anxious on the set. I have a thousand ideas and I don’t censor myself. I wind up cutting some of them out in the editing room. If I was more like Peter, I would save myself a lot of needless footage that I don’t use later because Peter does have a very good sense of seeing the big picture. So, we were, in a way, I guess two code-breakers trying to figure this movie out together and there’s no ego, there’s no competition. We’re both on the same page, two huge Tintin fanboys just trying to bring this movie to you in a way that you will like.

5. 3D can absolutely enhance a movie experience but shame on you if you misuse it.

Spielberg:
I’m certainly hoping that 3D gets to the point where people do not notice it because once they stop noticing it, it just becomes another tool and an aid to help tell a story. Then maybe they can make the ticket prices comparable to a 2D movie and not charge such exorbitant prices just to gain entry into a 3D one, with the exception of IMAX, where we are getting a premium experience. Not every movie, in my opinion, should be in 3D. There are a lot of stories I wouldn’t shoot in 3D. But, you know, there are movies that are perfect in 3D. I think the last great 3D movie I saw that really enhanced the experience for me, you’ll have to excuse me for mentioned a film I co-produced, it was the last Transformers which I think is the most amazing 3D experience I’ve seen since Avatar. But, 3D needs a trained eye. It can’t be done by everybody. 

Jackson: I think the 3D situation is kind of interesting at the moment because, after Avatar, it survived for a while as this premium experience with higher ticket prices but I think the audiences have now come to realize that there are bad movies in 3D as well and, on top of that, you’re being charged an extra five dollars to see a movie that was as bad as when you saw it in 2D. I certainly believe that, with the right movie, 3D can enhance the experience. Absolutely, it can make a good film a great film. It can make a great film a really amazing film, and that’s what I hang onto.

Categories: Comic-Con, Geek, Interviews
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