Watch How Johnny Depp Performed 'Rango' – Could This Be The Future Of How Animated Movies Are Made?

Paramount Pictures has released a new behind the scenes featurette for Pirates of the Caribbean helmer Gore Verbinski's computer animated feature film Rango. The new featurette, titled "Behind the Scenes: Natural Acting Experience", takes a look at the techniques employed to (as Verbinski has explained) "capture and translate every aspect of Johnny Depp's performance, using it to drive the computer-generated character in a way that has yet to be seen in an animated feature." Imagine something like how they filmmed Avatar, but without all the motion capture suits, balls, and green screen. The techniques are as interesting as the resulting animation.

I got a chance to preview 10 or 15 minutes of the film at Butt-num-a-thon, and was blown away. The film looks unlike any computer animated film I've ever seen — a blend of two polar opposites: realistic animal creatures and stylized animation and characterization. Most everyone I talked to at the screening was equally in love with what they had seen. I can't wait for people to see more of the film as I don't think the trailers evoke the same reaction.

Watch the video featurette now embedded after the jump.

Based on an original idea by Verbinski, Rango is scripted by The Aviator scribe John Logan. Johnny Depp stars as an Hawaiian-shirt-wearing "chameleon with an identity crisis." Previous information has stated that Rango is "a oddly charismatic household pet that goes on an adventure to discover its true self." The movie co-stars Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, and Timothy Olyphant as The Spirit of the West.

Rango it set to hit theaters on March 18th 2011.