SDCC 11: Liveblogging the Tintin Panel


I’m sitting in Hall H right now for the Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn panel after hours of waiting in the sun. This is going to be a big one, guys. We’ve got the cast showing up, as well as Steven Spielberg’s very first official appearance at Comic Con, so it’s even more packed than a Tintin panel would be.

The panel is now over. That was basically the best conversation I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Feel free to read my liveblog of the affair below!

– GOD people are excited to see The Beard.

– Spielberg has also won an Inkpot Award for his contributions to pop culture and comics. Now they’re showing a clip reel of Spielberg’s finest.

– Spielberg just showed up. Everyone’s on their feet.

– He takes the time to talk about staying a kid, his entire life, and that’s why he loves making movies. All the source material he works with is the stuff of legends, the stuff we love in our collective imaginations. “I feel very lucky that I can be a part of this. We’re all in the same world together”

– Where it began for Spielberg, in terms of Tintin. He talks about how kids the world over, North America aside, have grown up with it. Spielberg learned about Tintin when someone compared Raiders of the Lost Ark to Tintin. He couldn’t read French, but he got the story from the illustrations.

– Of course, the actors aren’t in the film, physically, what with the performance capture, but Spielberg praises WETA for their performance capture work, making the performances just as nuanced as the real life work is.


– Showed the initial test from the early days of trying to work CGI into live action. I thought it looked better than the actual movie. Had Peter Jackson as Cpt. Haddock and a digital Snowy. He’s a good Haddock!

– Jackson and Spielberg talked about how they bonded as Tintin fans, and that’s why they collaborated from the beginning.

– Biggest challenge for the project: Wanted to get the story told, have it look like the Herge adventures, rather than worry about getting live actors that look like the Herge characters, rather than reinventing the characters with big movie stars. 

– Even though the characters have faces you could never find on a human being, they still wanted to give details. Pores, freckles, hairs, sweat, etc. It almost looks like live action, but it’s still digital.

– They wanted to make a hybrid of digital and live action, so Spielberg could actually step onto a set and film it. Spielberg personally shot the film.

– Did you hear that? He shot his own damn film. It’s on a set/performance capture stage, but he shot the damn thing himself. 

– His camera live-rendered the sets and faces, so he could actually see what was going to be on the screen, roughly.

– Jackson: he looked at Tintin before he could even read, 5 or 6, and he sees them as designed like storyboards or silent movies.

– Layers of social statements Herge was making, as he wrote the books from the 20s through to the 80s.

– Now they’re gonna show footage.

– Quick thoughts: the faces look weird, especially in 3D. The movie looks amazing outside of that, though. Very noir, very adventurous. It’s going to be a good time, but those faces are hard to get over.

– Jackson praised all his WETA people, and he talked about how the company wouldn’t exist without Jurassic Park as the inspiration for computer effects done right.

– Spielberg “used new tools in the way I know how to tell my stories with.” He used a lot of steadicam, a lot of handheld to get his shots. “It’s a dense detective story…very funny when it needs to be.”

– Spielberg also says the footage we saw is the earliest rendering of the film, so there is a chance it might get to look better, in terms of the faces.

– Jamie Bell: “Tintin through and through, even before the motion capture.”

– On the large scale set pieces: Spielberg was able to put his camera places he could never do before.

– Here’s the good thing: Spielberg says performance capture isn’t good for everything, but it was the best way to do this movie.

– If this movie does well, Peter Jackson will direct the next one.

– First time Jackson and Spielberg met: when Spielberg handed Jackson his Best Picture award for Return of the King.

– Their collaboration was “effortless.” Spielberg’s best, other than with George Lucas.

– Moderator asked Jackson about The Hobbit. Jackson is “having a blast,” having a very good time shooting. 200 days of shooting to go.

– On Spielberg’s massive list of things to do: Spielberg says he works on multiple projects as a time, because when he works at a lot of things, he can’t lose his objectivity on a film. He can work on Lincoln for a bit, then can look at War Horse with a new eye.

– Ok, audience question time.

– Andy Serkis showed up! Pretends to be a silly, overactive, nervous fan.

– God, the first guy is talking about Jaws. I love it when people ask about things that have nothing to do with the panel. Spielberg basically blew him off, but nicely.

– Asked Jackson about his influences. He basically said his influences were the things he loves as a seven year old, and he makes movies for the kid he was and still is.

– Comparing this tech to the Beowulf movie: the tech has improved so much, creating every single bit of anatomy for each character that responds like a real actor in a live action movie. The facial equivalent of an emotion or intensity is exactly life like, according to Spielberg. Avatar made it all possibly.

– A little kid asked about Spielberg’s favorite movie to make. Adorable! His favorite movie to make was E.T. because, usually after making a movie, everyone goes home alone. After E.T., when Spielberg was done, he really wanted to stay with his actors, and he realized that he wanted to have children, after working with the child actors.

– Asked Jackson if he’s going back to horror, bloody funny movies. He said yes.

– Of all the movies they’ve produced, which one would they have liked to direct? Spielberg said he loved American Beauty, and he wished he could have directed it, but he’s happy with what Sam Mendes did. 

– Spielberg talked about how he likes producing. All he wants is to hire a director and go away.

– Spielberg loves people because they’re honest about him. “You don’t love me all the time. Keep taking me to task when you don’t, please.”

– Asked about Jurassic Park 4. There’s a story, a writer that’s writing a treatment. Hopefully, within two or three years, there will be a JP4.

– Asked why they chose Secret of the Unicorn over all other Tintin books. They wanted to start Tintin on screen that brought Haddock and Tintin together, because the pairing of the two is so iconic, even though Tintin started without Haddock. They basically grafted a part of another Tintin book, where Haddock and Tintin actually met, so that Secret of the Unicorn could work as a sort of origin story for the two and got some extra backstory for Haddock from his story in Unicorn.

– When asked about what they look for in a short film and young filmmakers, Spielberg wants to know who can tell a story, and who’s got things interesting to say. It’s not just about technical prowess. It’s about who the filmmakers are, what they like, what they have to say. Jackson says the best thing someone can do to get into the movies is to make a short film. If you can’t get that together, it’ll never happen.

– A guy had a shirt that asked to shake Spielberg’s hand. He got to, and Peter Jackson took pictures. Lucky sonofabitch! Guy also asked if Spielberg still used film. He does!

Oh man, that was an insane panel! Might be one of the best things I’ve ever seen!