The animation world is in the middle of multiple revolutions - the 3D boom, Pixar's domination and enhanced motion-capture technology. Recently, the creative minds of animation gathered to usher in another idea - the natural acting experience. Rango is the latest animated feature to grab hold of the innovative style.
"The natural acting experience" is not an official term by any means. In fact, it's somewhere in between motion capture and on-location recording. Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox was the last major animated film to take on the challenge. He shot the entire film on location to capture voice work and gather natural sounds of the environment that would later be created with stop-motion animation.
The idea involves putting an all-star cast into a stripped down version of the events that will eventually exist onscreen. Typically, each cast member is assigned a few days in a recording studio where the entirety of their dialogue is recorded individually. With a little "outside the box" thinking, filmmakers have noticed the performances are much more visceral when they exist in real-time.
While Johnny Depp may not be in the middle of a desert talking to co-star Bill Nighy, they've managed to make it work within the confines of a small studio space. Partially dressed like the characters they portray, each actor acts out the scene and the filmmakers take care of the rest by recording the performance.
Check out the video from Yahoo! with footage from the recording sessions intermixed with new footage from Rango:
Many films hold acting workshops where the performers can explore the creative boundaries of their characters within a stress-free environment before production begins. The same concept exists in these recording sessions, only it is the production. As these sessions continue to become the norm, might we see our first award nomination for an animated performance? It is increasingly possible with each technological advancement. Motion-capture has allowed animators to mesh real-life performances with CGI creatures to capture the full breadth of each actor's physicality. There is no question the minds behind Rango used their own footage to do the same here - especially considering how animated Johnny Depp already is.
The most important aspect of this new way of creating animation is the implementation of real-time emotion. It must be tremendously difficult to create an efficient reaction to a character who is not present and may not even have recorded his or her dialogue yet. For the most part, these separate sessions existed out of convenience - most of the actors could never be in the same room due to scheduling conflicts. One of the medium's advantage is the ease with which A-list actors can submit their performance. In some cases, it only takes a matter of days before the entire role is completed and it is all done within the comfort of a studio. From the videos I've seen of productions like Rango, it sure looks like fun and I can't imagine actors would be unwilling to experience the new style.
How do you feel about bringing the actors to the same place and recording these performances in real-time? Discuss the natural acting experience in the comments section below.
Rango hits theaters on March 4th, 2011.
Source: Yahoo! via Coming Soon
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