Movie Fact #29 - September 15th, 2020
The 2007 animated film Beowulf was Robert Zemeckis's second foray into motion capture, following 2004's The Polar Express. When asked why Zemeckis wanted to use motion capture, animation supervisor Kenn MacDonald explained:
"Even though it feels like live action, there were a lot of shots where Bob cut loose. Amazing shots. Impossible with live-action actors. This method of filmmaking gives him freedom and complete control. He doesn't have to worry about lighting. The actors don't have to hit marks. They don't have to know where the camera is. It's pure performance."
The shots that were sought after to create a more visceral experience were possible because the film borrowed technologies recently implemented by other films that came out in 2007, all created by the company Imageworks. From their work on Spider-Man 3, they lent the lighting techniques and the fluid engine present in the Sandman. The waves of the ocean and the cave of Grendel's mother were modeled after the wave fluid engine used in Surf's Up while the 2007 film Ghost Rider lent Beowulf the fluid engine that was used to model the movements of protagonist Johnny Blaze. In short, while the film has gained it's own affection after initial cold reaction to the look, the film represents the best of what the industry can be. Collaboration and possibilities. Stay tuned!