Some conversations really do my head in. I am aware that my comprehension of cinema, movie making and genres is probably greater than the average person who walks through the door. It's my job to know stuff and I fully appreciate that for most people movies are nothing more than simple escapism. All good. But this afternoon a woman tried to challenge my knowledge and her inability to grasp the reality of movie-making drove me insane.
Today in store I am playing Steven Spielberg's ADVENTURES OF TINTIN. It's one of the most impressive examples of motion-capture animation that I've ever seen. Its a technically remarkable film. This particular woman watched a few moments of the film and then approached me. She was concerned and asked "aren't you fearful for actors?". I wasn't sure what she meant and asked her to elaborate. She continued "all of these computer generated movies are putting actors out of jobs. Aren't you worried for their profession?".
This is a misconception that I've had to address for years. Back in 2001 when FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN was released, the CGI was so impressive that audiences panicked and saw the writing on the wall for the actor's profession. Almost 13 years later and that forecast is nowhere near visible.
I smiled and reassured this lady that the actors' profession is safe & secure and, if anything, these motion-capture films were giving them MORE jobs and offering new opportunities, skills and challenges. It's a revolution! She still couldn't understand how actors could possibly be significant if movies are all going down this computerised path. Again I tried to reassure her. "Firstly" I said, "not all movies are going down this road. In fact probably close to 80% of the new releases in the store are live action, featuring real people. Secondly this brand of animation is called motion-capture and those cartoon-like characters are real actors performing in front of cameras". I went on to elaborate on how the format works and how actual human beings are fitted with markers and sensors and computers capture their movements. I explained that had TINTIN and similar movies been animated the traditional way then fewer actors were required... she still didn't get it.
I couldn't be bothered arguing. Her mind was made up and no amount of explanation was going to sink in. I guess time will tell for her. Fear not my friends. Cinema is like any other technically driven industry and it is constantly evolving. Every evolution has it's wonders it also has it's shortcomings. I will champion practical filmmaking to my dying breath. I'm a child of the 80s and am in love with puppets, strings and all of those wonderful and magic things... but even those movies were an evolutionary step... from the days of Ray Harryhausen's fantastic stop-motion creatures and right back to Georges Méliès' primitive (yet magical) wonders of the early 1900s. We progress and right now we're in a new realm of movie-making where computers and actors collaborate to dazzle and awe us.
An actor's job is never done.