Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Directors direct via email and iChat

October 19, 2009

foxTwo movies — one complete and one in the works — have underlined how technology is changing the way films are made.

Wes Anderson partly directed his animated “Fantastic Mr. Fox” using a computer, streaming images from multiple animation sets live on to a screen in front of him, allowing him to guide animators from another room, town, or, more often, country. That guidance often came in the form of emails, something which did not endear the film maker to some of the animators, according to a recent piece in the L.A. Times. George Clooney provided the voice of Mr. Fox, and London’s Three Mills Studios carried out the paintstaking, old-fashioned stop-motion animation.

Meanwhile, Peter Jackson used iChat to co-direct the upcoming, big-budget feature “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn”. Actor Nick Frost, who plays Thomson in the film, said Jackson would be linked up live to the U.S. set from New Zealand, from where he would add to Steven Spielberg’s pearls of wisdom on set. “It was weird”, was his description of the experience. The blockbuster will feature motion capture technology, producing the kind of effect seen in “The Polar Express”.

According to Hollywood trade publications, while Spielberg was on set for just over 30 days, Jackson will have spent the best part of 18 months converting the data into an animation movie by the time it hits theatres some time in 2011. The balance has led some to question whether Jackson should be given the directorial credit rather than Spielberg. It also raises the possibility of more and more movie makers spending less and less time on set, particularly where animation is concerned.


I need to correct a mis-conception. Steven Spielberg is directing ” Tintin. ” He’s the one who says ” Action ” and ” Cut. “Peter Jackson, along with Steven and Kathleen Kennedy are the producers. They have collaborated throughout the developmnt of the film and its production and post-production. They were even able to see what was being shot and talk to each other, Steven in Los Angeles and Peter in New Zealand. After Steven did his initial editing he sent it to Peter Jackson’s Weta company in N.Z. who is doing the long labor-intensive techical post-production work that will utilize their technology to take what Steven filmed and turn it into the images for the final film. Steven controls every image, every frame. He and Peter will continue to collaborate on all the work on post-production all the way to the release in 2011 by Sony internationally and Paramount domestically. Peter will direct the second ” Tintin ” film so a similar pattern of working together will take place. Marvin Levy from Steven Spielberg’s office.

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