Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Acting In The Digital Age

Thursday, 04/22/10 - 08:00

I was eager to attend the ACTING IN THE DIGITAL AGE event sponsored by the Academy and held at the Samuel Goldwyn building in Beverly Hills. Andy Serkis (Gollum from "The Lord of The Rings" trilogy and Kong from "King Kong"), Peter Donald Baldalamenti who provided the body acting of young(old) Benjamin in "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Buttons" and Wes Studi, Joel David Moore (Matha, Father from Avatar) as well as legendary producer, Jon Landau, also from Avatar were all scheduled to appear.

CC Pounder sat directly across from me and I spoke to her before the panel started. loved her work in The Shield and I wanted to say that. She's from the Caribbean also, more accurately, she's from a Caribbean culture as she's from Guyana in South America and not from the Caribbean region itself. She heard my accent and asked me where I was from. I told her and it turns out that she loves the Virgin Islands as much as I do and has visited a few times. She especially loves the British Virgin Islands so I promised her that my family would show her the sites next time she visits.

She asked me how long I was in LA and I answered 2 1/2 years and she smiled and gave me a "you haven't seen anything yet" look with her eyes and said "you're fresh here". She asked me what I was doing in LA and I explained to her my medical background and my desire to be a writer. I asked about her husband's charity then we spoke about HHS and Neal Baer( her former writer, exec producer from ER) who is on the board of Hollywood Health and Society(see recent HHS post). She told me to contact her agent so that we can have a chance to talk in the future then I took my seat as the panel was starting soon.

The wide plume of ash in Europe from the Icelandic volcano prevented Andy Serkis from traveling from England so he stayed up (it was 3:00 am in the UK) and he spoke to us by skype(web camera). All the others made it in person and they were introduced one by one to the stage.

We were shown film clips of their respective films and each actor talked about their experiences with digital film making. The audience was mostly actors who were fearfully of being replaced by animated/digital actors. CC confessed that this was initially a concern for her but that she resolved it when she was on set. Serkis was really stoked about digital acting and kept the audience engrossed with his funny stories of behind the scene happenings on the two movie sets.

The animators shared with us the newest in digital animation and what can be accomplished with motion/performance capture. We were introduced to "Digital Emily"
and it was scary how well they could imitate a passable "live actor" with the computer program. The animators and the academy people assured the audience again that live actors would never be replaced as animators can only mimic the face or movements of live actors at this time and need live actors in the process so it can look real. But in the future? Who knows. As you can imagine, this was poor consolation for the actors in the audience.

CC, Moore and Landau tried to put a positive spin on the experience and likened digital acting to theater in the round as did Serbkis. Peter joked that if Brad Pitt had won, he would have to share the Oscar with him. They also joked about the discomfort of the motion capture suits and the numerous cameras that were trained on them during every second on set. Wes Studi seemed less enthusiastic than the others but he still said he enjoyed the experience of acting in Avatar and that he would gladly do digital acting in the future.

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