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Old 15th July 2011, 01:09 PM   #1
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Default Watch out Belgium

TinTin is coming your way -- I remember buying the books for the kids when we'd go to Bermuda (they weren't in the stores in the US):

By JOHN JURGENSEN
Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of the comic book "Tintin" won't arrive in theaters until December, but audiences are already divided over the movie's rendering of the iconic character, a plucky young reporter with a button nose and a plume of strawberry hair. When the first substantial preview of "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" hit the Web this week, one Twitter critic called it "creepy in a 'kill it with fire' kind of way."

A scene from 'The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn,' which will be released in December.
.It's the latest referendum on so-called motion capture, a process in which filmmakers map the body and facial movements of real actors to make animated characters appear more lifelike on screen. The technology has been at the core of record-breaking hits ("Avatar") and major flops ("Mars Needs Moms").

Motion capture has been used to great effect in creating otherworldly creatures, such as the sniveling Gollum of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" series. But some filmmakers have stumbled when using it to depict humans. The people in Robert Zemeckis's "The Polar Express," for example, are remembered for a certain blankness in their eyes. Tintin and his cohorts, created more than 80 years ago by Belgian artist Georges Remi (pen name Hergé), represent a hybrid—stylized cartoon figures who people a real-world milieu.

Next week, the 3-D film will face another test when Mr. Spielberg presents new footage at Comic-Con, the annual fantasy entertainment gathering in San Diego. The reaction of opinionated fans there can be a bellwether for box-office returns. For this potential three-picture franchise, there's much at stake: Mr. Jackson, who produced "Tintin," plans to direct a sequel, with Mr. Spielberg producing. Paramount Pictures has not yet given that film a green light.

Rory Phillips, a 39-year-old graphic designer from Portland, Ore., who grew up in Ireland reading Hergé's books, says glimpses of the "Tintin" movie have squelched his anticipation. Something in the face of the hero, whose voice and movements are supplied by actor Jamie Bell, "gives me that creepy vibe," Mr. Phillips said. The depiction is "too close to the 'uncanny valley,' " he added, using a popular term coined by a Japanese researcher in 1970 to describe the eerie disconnect people feel upon encountering a robot that falls just short of looking authentically human.

To avoid that effect, the "Avatar" team pushed motion capture into a new phase with head-mounted cameras, in order to map actors' facial muscles, eye movements and emotions on "a pore-by-pore" level, says producer Jon Landau.

Weta Digital, the Peter Jackson-owned effects studio that developed the look of "Avatar," used the same process for "Tintin." But Hergé's characters required some tweaks. On paper, Tintin's head is just a circle with two dots for eyes. Matching that look on screen first resulted in "a big fat face with beady eyes," said Weta Digital director Joe Letteri. His verdict: "Not a very attractive character." His team then experimented with larger, dark brown eyes, but eventually settled on a blue-gray color to realistically match Tintin's red hair. "It's like casting an actor. You find one who's close to all the traits you want," Mr. Letteri said.

He's not surprised that a motion-capture Tintin has polarized audiences. Weta's process was the most effective method of creating an expressive character that would satisfy diehard "Tintin" fans as well as uninitiated moviegoers, he said.

Many Tintin aficionados have reacted positively to the movie's look so far. Stefan Ellison, 21 years old and an aspiring animation writer, says motion-capture is the right "digital makeup" for actors, giving them a look "appropriate to the source material." Given the combined track record of the Spielberg-Jackson-Weta team, he said, "I just have absolute faith in who's involved."
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Old 15th July 2011, 01:46 PM   #2
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I dread this. Tintin is so drawn. That's a huge part of his charm. The simple clear lines, the open graphic feel of it all, the placement on the page. The "circle with two dots for eyes". Putting that into a 3D space seems wrong. And the whole Zemeckis motion capture technique was just creepy and awful.

Add to that the fact that he'll be speaking English and calling his dog "Snowy". Tonnerre de tonnerre de Brest!!
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