Comic-Con 2009 Live: Disney's Live-Action 3D Panel
by Alex Billington
July 23, 2009
It's time to get this show the road! We're back once again for another series of live-blogging presentations here in Hall H, so let's get underway. The first panel today on Thursday is for Disney's Live-Action 3D presentation which includes Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and Tron 2. Of course, the first big change this year is that the entire hall has been converted to 3D. And we were given Dolby Digital 3D glasses and a Flynn's Arcade Tron coin on our way in. And with that, our host takes the Patton Oswalt, to walk us through the latest Disney magic. Let's fire this up - follow our updates below!
11:26AM - Patton Oswalt takes the stage making fun of the campers for Twilight and how their "mother's let them leave the house" for this today. Also that the 3D effects may not be as exhilarating as they will be in theaters, but still enjoy it. It's time to bring our Robert Zemeckis as their first guest. "The Back to the Future trilogy - all hand puppets," Oswalt jokes.
11:28AM - Why do you think 3D is the future? "I'm excited about it because I think it's a totally immersive way to see movies. Not all movies should be in 3D, it depends on the story." Its been perfected now and it's very different from the 50s, we have digital cinema, and "it's very cool."
11:29AM - Why retell the Christmas Carol story? "I never thought that… as wonderful as the old versions were, if you read the actual novel, it's very very trippy, it's surreal and it's very cinematic." "We finally now have the filmmaking tools to realize what Dickens originally wrote."
11:31AM - Addressing the "uncanny valley." Zemeckis: "So the uncanny valley is a term coined for robots… I don't think it was ever intended to be used for cinema since cinema is all an illusion." He talks about how bad actors and prosthetics also achieve the same "uncanny valley" effect. "In the illusion of cinema, uncanny valley is an artistry thing… It has nothing to do with the art form here." Oswalt says: "You keep going, you keep doing it, perfecting it."
11:34AM - Put your 3D glasses on to see some footage. Oswalt jokes "there's no better way to honor the filmmaker than posting crappy footage on the internet." Oh I love him, he's such a hilariously awesome host!
11:46AM - Same 10-minute footage I had seen earlier. Involved Scrooge meeting the ghost of his old business associate the first time. Loud and scary but also has a mix of kooky Jim Carrey humor. Exciting and fun, very visually stylized and it looks great in 3D. Also has some clips from the trailer at the end.
11:47AM - Time for a Q&A. Since Jim Carrey is involved, will it be more comedic since the last few Christmas Carol movies have been dramatic? "If you read the novel, there's some pretty funny stuff in there." "All great actors have a keen sense of comedic timing."
11:48AM - How do you record eye movement? Actors are wearing high def video cameras and scan the retina of the eye as a "marker" and every pore and every facial wrinkle and crease in their skin. It's a movement marker.
11:49AM - What decided to make you decide to choose Jim Carrey? When I first stumbled onto this "art form", of anyone working the business today, he'd be the perfect performance capture actor. Not only can he do perfect accents and create a character from the inside of his entire being, he also works with his entire body whenever he performs. Every muscle in his body is emoting that performance. That's exactly the perfect actor for this type of art form. He understand comedy timing, he understands drama, and is a great physical performer.
11:51AM - Will you ever return to live-action? "Never say never." I love live-action and if the "muse" ever hits me that I want to do a story that is live action, I don't believe that digital cinema is for every story, you have to have the right kind of story. But right now I'm dedicated to sending this art form out there into the world and I'm really excited by it and I really love the control that this art form gives the director. "I don't have to obey the laws of physics."
11:53AM - Do you have an intention of making a sequel to Roger Rabbit. "I can neither confirm nor deny." Oswalt: "Come on!! Well played, Zemeckis." I will tell you this - if that ever does happen, the 2D animated characters will remain 2D. They will not be dimensionalized, but that doesn't mean other parts won't be in 3D.
11:54AM - What is your favorite movie he's directed? "I love them all for different reasons."
11:55AM - Tim Burton takes the stage to talk about Alice in Wonderland. Shows us the trailer with new music and so on (features "Time To Pretend" by MGMT). "I've always to take PCP, thank you," Oswalt jokes.
12:05AM - Time for the Q&A with Burton.
12:06AM - Is this based off of both of Lewis Caroll's books? "It's really based off of all of his material." Some of it is based off of his Jaberwocky poem, too. I've seen different versions and it was always just a girl wandering around so we tried to take all elements of it and weave it into a story. There is a certain weird dialogue that figures into it. We don't use every character, but we tried… to make it new and feel different.
12:07PM - How did you work with the actors to get them into character? It's difficult without a lot of sets and with a lot of technology. Always keep it as lively as possible and as fast as possible so they can interact with each other as much as possible. This is the first time I've done a lot of greenscreen and it really starts to "freak you out" after a while. Myself and the crew had to say "who am I?" all the time. They had to keep "movin' and groovin'" so to speak.
12:08PM - Favorite movie? Maybe Scissorhands, Ed Wood maybe, I like bits of every one, I don't really watch them much after I do them.
12:09PM - Have you ever wanted to do a Wizard of Oz? There are similarities to classic stories in this. That's a hard one to top, in a way, I'd say.
12:10PM - What was the most difficult thing to do in this movie? "Well, it's still happening," he jokes. Combining all the weird elements, this is the most difficult one so far.
12:12PM - Burton has an "imaginary friend" that he wishes to come on stage and Johnny Depp walks around. The entire Hall H erupts, people stand up and cheer, I think the screams now were louder here than they will be for Twilight later.
12:15PM - They just showed the Alice in Wonderland trailer for a third time - still a lot of cheers!
12:17PM - Introduction to Tron Legacy as it is now officially called. It looks like the title is Tron Legacy and not Tron 2 and not Tr2n.
12:18PM - Jeff Bridges talks about the title but says he's not going to explain it because he likes to know as little as possible. "It's about a sons search for his father." When we made that in 81, there was no internet.
12:19PM - "It wasn't a hard movie to recruit people for" because everyone was a fan of the original. We've got another year of work to do, so there's not a lot of show yet "in the world of Tron" but I did bring a couple of concept images.
12:20PM - The world of Tron is set on a server for 20 years kind of evolving on its own. More realistic, more darker, more visceral. Showing concept art photos of the new Recognizer ship floating through the city.
12:20PM - Going through concept art images showing us the world of Tron. Street of "Tron City" and an image of the "gladiator worlds" arena with Disc Wars. A glimpse of a disc game tournament in progress. 16 combatants are playing simultaneously. Eventually they play one-on-one eliminating each other and eventually get to the point where the last two people are fighting each other.
12:22PM - Showing some test footage of an athlete doing a slow-mo kick for the disc game. Looks awesome, he's flying through the air. Shot with the Phantom Camera. They are the first movie to the Phantom Camera in 3D.
12:23PM - Various vehicles of concept art. New vehicles including the "light runner" but like a light cycle except it carries two passengers and has four wheels. It can also turn into an off-road. The fifth generation light cycle concept art is shown (except the pictures to show up online later). Also showing a second generation light cycle that Kevin Flynn designed in 1989. Just a sneak peek of the concept art and what they're getting into now.
12:25PM - Steve Lisberger talking about how they're the right guys who came along 25 years later and "pulled the disc from the stone" (in a reference to King Arthur). It's a bit like the world of Tron and the story of Tron has come true (in this movie). It's like they really scanned Jeff Bridges and put him on a game grid. "It took 27 years to put a team together this good."
12:27PM - They did just finish filming but they cut a key scene together from the beginning of the movie in 2D.
12:30PM - Great scene where the main guy, Sam Flynn, goes into the old arcade because his friend received a fax from a number in his office. He walks through and flips on the lights then finds the Tron machine in the back. And he moves it away and there's a door in the wall behind it and walks through - it cuts.
12:35PM - They showed the test footage teaser from last year again in 3D. Now time for Q&A.
12:36PM - How did you keep it cutting edge and groundbreaking with today's technology? We're doing a lot of things we can't talk about, but we've got 3 or 4 things that have never been done before and we're doing them all at the same time. Promise you next year at Comic-Con you'll see some things you haven't ever seen before.
12:37PM - Question about getting Daft Punk to do the movie. Kosinski: "Got word that they were interested, setup a mysterious pancake meeting breakfast, and we just hit it off." That track over the slideshow is one of the demos they've done. They've already done 24 tracks for the movie.
12:38PM - Question for Jeff Bridges about working on this again. "You kind of fall right back into it." They had a lot of story meetings and rehearsed quite a bit and that helped all of them get up to this new story and what it's all about.
12:39PM - That's it for the Tron Legacy presentation - very short and not too much shown. But it's still very exciting to see something!
12:40PM - That's all for this Disney panel. Not exactly as exciting and groundbreaking as I thought it would be. Obviously Johnny Depp got the most chears and Tron was a little underwhelming. But of course we'll be covering that viral later tonight, too!