Post Magazine

January 2012

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cover story Tintin's amazing journey M By DANIEL RESTUCCIO ANHATTAN BEACH, CA — The Adventures of Tintin is director Ste- ven Spielberg's first performance- captured animated feature, and it marks his first collaboration with noted producer/direc- tor Peter Jackson. "One of the main attractions for me on this entire endeavor," said Spielberg in quote from the film's press kit, "was to collaborate with Peter (Jackson). I have tremendous respect for Peter, his movies, his storytelling abilities, his big imagination. A lot of the plea- sure of working on Tintin was getting to work with him constantly." The character of Tintin was created in Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's great adventure. 1929 by Belgian Georges Prosper Remi, a.k.a. Herge, who gave up a career as a foreign cor- respondent to become the writer/illustrator of the adventures of the globetrotting boy reporter/detective. Over the years Herge's creation became a cultural icon through books, magazines and even a 39-episode ani- mated series. The Tintin franchise has delight- ed millions worldwide. Spielberg first became aware of the stories over 30 years ago when a French newspaper reviewer compared the character Indiana Jones to the adventurous Tintin. Spielberg inevitably became a fan of the books and even read them to his children. While he never met Herge, the director did speak to him by phone. Spielberg finally acquired the rights in 1983 from Herge's widow Fanny Remi. Fast forward to 2002. Spielberg renews his option and decides to make Tintin into a live- action feature. "The books that I received in my office," Spielberg recalled, "didn't have the translation, but I understood the story. Every frame every single panel told a story in cine- matic terms, including color palettes, composi- tion of figures and action… very expressive action. The way that Herge would pose his characters almost as if he was trying to squeeze out 24 frames in a single frame, and succeeding. It was a movie. And that was I think the genius of Herge." Weta VFX supervisor Joe Letteri. HOW IT BEGAN Early 2004, Weta visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri was in Los Angeles when Tintin producer Kathleen Kennedy called him about making a CG version of Tintin's dog Snowy. Letteri and Weta co-founder Peter Jackson, already a big fan of the property, did some tests dressing an actor like Tintin and adding a digital Snowy. Jackson even added a clip of 16 Post • January 2012 Performance capture was via Giant Studios, VFX from Weta and post from Park Road. himself auditioning for Captain Haddock, interacting with the CG dog, who comically falls off a dock as Jackson dives in after him. The question then became, "'Who's going to play these parts,'"explains Letteri. "Who's Tintin? Who are the twins? Who's Captain Haddock? You start to go down that line... do you put the actors in prosthetics or do you just ignore the fact that they don't look like the characters? Is that going to feel enough like the world of Herge? As all this was hap- pening we were doing King Kong and we were starting to do more and more of these big virtual worlds. Then we're done with King Kong and starting up Avatar with Jim Camer- on, and we're doing even more virtual worlds." "Steven and I just started talking about Tintin and the characters and about the idea that if it wasn't live action would it be possible to take Herge's drawings (and make a movie) using complete CGI animation," explained Jackson in press materials. In 2007 Jim Cameron was prepping Avatar on his performance capture stage in Playa Vista. Cameron let the Tintin team use the stage for a couple of days to create a proof- of-concept. Spielberg and Jackson performed a test with actor Andy Serkis and some extras. Weta took that footage back to New Zea- land and worked on things like look develop- ment and art direction. Jackson said to his concept development team, "What would the world of Tintin look like if it were real?" CAPTURING PERFORMANCES "The allure of performance capture," says Matt Madden, VP of Manhattan Beach, CA's Giant Studios (, "is that it provided a director/actor experience similar to live action, but with the creative freedom of an animated feature. "Unlike traditional live action, they didn't have the typical down time for things like lighting adjustments and set changes, because 'previs-level' virtual environments had already been built by Weta. There was some physical

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