Robert Zemeckis is sticking with his motion capture studio. This week’s Mars Needs Moms is another performance capture animated movie produced by ImageMovers. People still don’t like it, but he’s positive they’ll come around. Just give him a chance. It’s only been 10 years. I mean, come on, guys. It’s just like when Technicolor started and they didn’t get color film right the first time either.
“When John Ford made The Searchers and it was one of the very first Technicolor movies,” Zemeckis said at the Mars Needs Moms press junket. “Inside the cabin it’s sunset and there’s this ridiculous bright red light coming through the windows. It was an early Technicolor movie that the technicians were finding the way. They were finding the way and they thought they were doing their best to light a sunset effect coming through the window which kind of looked like a gaudy carnival red light. Should John Ford have made that movie in black and white? Should he not have tried something? This thing’s going to be perfected.”
Because you always hear people complaining about the color in The Searchers, right? “I always go back to music,” Zemeckis continued. “Okay, so we have the capability in the digital world to create any sound that an instrument can make absolutely digitally and perfectly. We’ve been able to do this for 15 years. We haven’t replaced a single musician. When we talk about replacing actors or creating an artificial actor, that’s not what this is. This is makeup. This is digital makeup. The thing that has always been at the core of the performance capture art form has been the performance of the actor. The emotional warmth and the emotional performance is what that performer has done, exactly if a musician sits at a keyboard and plays but then a processor takes those keystrokes and turns them into an entire orchestra. That’s how it works.”
Also, if you don’t like Polar Express, Zemeckis doesn’t believe you.
“Well, look, Polar Express is the number one movie on ABC Family every Christmas. It’s made 100s and 100s of millions of dollars around the world. Major critics have gone back with the 3D reissue of the movie and said, ‘Oh, gee, you know I kind of like the movie now.’ You know, the audience has never had the problem with Polar Express that certain aspects of the media have.”
So stick around. ImageMovers isn’t going anywhere. Zemeckis believes the technology will get so good that one day in the future, you’ll look back at Mars Needs Moms and admire how far it’s come since now. “What’s interesting about anything in the realm of visual effects is these movies become these historical documents at the moment of time that they’re made which I think is really fascinating. You’ll be able to go into the early 2000s and say, ‘Hey, look at the quaint digital cinema that was being done.’ I believe that movies should live in their time and I don’t like the idea of going back and re-tweaking them and changing them because I do think they’re made for that moment in time with the tools that we had.”