Even though James Cameron used it to blockbuster critical and financial success, film fans are still divided on the issues of motion capture and 3D. Some see motion capture as the next step in an acting evolution which will eventually see the actor disappear, while others see it as an uncomfortable midpoint between animation and live-action. And the argument rages over whether or not 3D is a fad that will fade away and is nothing more than a cheap ploy to charge us a few more dollars per ticket.

This winter, Steven Spielberg, one of our most famous and revered filmmakers, will throw his hat into both of those arenas with The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. The CG, motion capture, 3D film is based on the works of Belgian writer/illustrator Hergé who created a literary empire based on his reporter/detective lead character. While we’ve seen a few images from the film, Spielberg hasn’t said too much about it because he’s busy working on two movies set to open within five days of each other. In an upcoming Los Angeles Times piece, though, he discussed his reasoning behind shooting Tintin with motion capture and more.

Thanks to the Los Angeles Times for this quotes from Spielberg.

First, he discussed why he chose to shoot The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn with motion capture:

It was based on my respect for the art of Hergé and wanting to get as close to that art as I could. Hergé wrote about fictional people in a real world, not in a fantasy universe. 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.

It’s nice to know there was an artistic reason for choosing to shoot the film with mo-cap. And, once he worked with it, Spielberg fell in love:

I just adored it. 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.

Spielberg was also impressed with how he could watch actors, like Andy Serkis or Jamie Bell, run across a motion capture stage in person, then look down at a monitor and see the characters in the world they’ve created.

When Captain Haddock runs across the volume, the cameras capture all the information of his physical and emotional moves. So as Andy Serkis runs across the stage, there’s Captain Haddock on the monitor, in full anime, running along the streets of Belgium. Not only are the actors represented in real time, they enter into a three-dimensional world.

Actor Nick Frost, who plays a bumbling detective along side Simon Pegg in the film, also commented on Spielberg’s enthusiastic use of this new technology:

Steven he did a lot of his own camera work. He’d get a movement he really liked, punch the air and do a little dance. It’s intoxicating. You want to perform for him. You want to be around that kind of enthusiasm.

Front continued:

It was like rehearsing a play, like when you’re a kid and you’re pretending that thing over there could be the Millennium Falcon. You have to concentrate. Peter Jackson is on the monitor, Kathy Kennedy is there producing. Daniel Craig — who looks amazing in a motion capture suit, by the way — is there. It’s like a big idiot’s dream.

Here’s hoping The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn is one of those big dreams. It’ll be released on December 28.

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