Sunday, August 30, 2009
Motion Capture Stunt Choreography in "Wonderland"
MovieLine.com has an interview with stunt choreographer Garrett Warren. Warren has worked on numerous new and upcoming motion capture films, including Alice in Wonderland. Click this link for the full interview, in which Warren discusses other movies including Tintin and Avatar, but you can read the Alice-related excerpts below:
I'm wondering how coordinating stunts for a live-action film differs from motion capture?
The difference is that you have to have just a little bit more imagination when you have motion capture. You have to make believe you’re in an elevator, or something is a dragon, or a house. In live action, we’d actually have the horse, or build a mock-up of a dragon, or put the actors in an elevator. We still perform an awful lot of hard action sequences, but they don’t necessarily take place at an actual location. We just put down a box, and have the person jump off of that, and that can be jumping off the roof of a building.
But why take the risk of putting someone in harm’s way if you could just recreate that in a computer?
One of the things that we've always found is that no matter how hard you try to create something in a computer, it never carries the same kind of acting, the same kind of weight or movement as if you do it in real time. Watching a person fall for real and watching an animator make a person fall are two completely different looks. Not to mention that a lot of the actors we’ve used in motion capture filming prefer to have that organic feeling. They want to be part of that action sequence, so they can give you that performance that they would have given if it was real.
Who are some of the actors who insist on doing their own stunts, and what’s your reaction when they tell you that?
You know, I've always had most lead actors and actresses say they’d like to do as many of their stunts as possible. One person in particular, Seth Green, wanted to do every stunt possible he could do on Mars Needs Moms!, and he did. He did about 90% of it.
But then you get to a movie like Alice in Wonderland, and Johnny Depp says, "I only really want to do the stunts that are necessary for me. Anything that you don’t need to see me in, I prefer to let the stunt double do it." Those are the kinds of stunts — where you'll be falling down some stairs, or falling off a chair — that while they might not seem like big stunts, they hurt your actor. And that sets you back production-wise. It’s always good to see someone who is professional who thinks ahead and realizes that it's not a big deal to see someone fall on the ground.
Garrett Warren is the winner of the Stunt Choreographer of the Year award from the 2009 Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards.