Tortugas Ninja

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Words: Geoff Berkshire
photography: MMXIV Paramount Pictures

Lula Carvalho, the film’s cinematographer, reveals what happens when man meets turtle   

Performance-capture technology has completely changed the face of Hollywood’s visual-effects extravaganzas. From Gollum in The Lord of The Rings to the Na’vi in Avatar, some of the best known non-human characters are now played by flesh-and-blood actors on a stage before being transformed in post-production.

The latest revival of those pizza-loving heroes in a half shell, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, uses performance-capture technology to bring its titular quartet to life. We asked director of photography Lula Carvalho to tell us what it was like filming real actors playing ninja turtles.

THE RED BULLETIN: What was the most surprising thing for you about your experience with performance capture?

“The reality is that in one movie you blend a lot of different techniques”
Lula Carvalho

 Lula Carvalho: I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I like imagining elements that were not there, but will be after post-production.

What are the advantages to shooting characters via performance capture rather than conventional visual effects or CGI?

I believe it will look better and more real at the end because of the performance capture. Also, it does feel more ‘alive’ to have a person in front of the camera. It is a very efficient way to use the ability of the actor to act and keep that in the final product.

Would you recommend this process to other cinematographers, and do you think it will become more prevalent in films?

Yes, I would recommend it and it will be more prevalent, but I also think each project has its own characteristics, and the creative minds involved should always find the best solution for each project. The reality is that in one movie you blend a lot of different techniques together.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is out worldwide from August 7

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