The Disney Christmas train is in Seattle for a few days during its nationwide tour of the U.S., and we went down for a while this morning to see it. The primary purpose of this whistle stop tour is to promote the upcoming Robert Zemickis film A Christmas Carol, which stars Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all the ghosts, Gary Oldman as Bob Crachit, Jacob Marley and Tiny Tim, Robin Wright Penn, Colin Firth, Cary Elwes and Bob Hoskins.
Aside from the fascinating exhibits on the motion capture technology used to produce the film, there were period costumes, exhibits about the story and its characters, and a number of items on loan from the Dickens museum in London. I was most interested in these, which included first editions of Dickens' works, handwritten manuscripts and Dickens' own quill and inkwell.
More than just an animated film, director Zemickis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) used digital motion capture technology to record the actors' movements and facial expressions, enabling him to place the actors, in all three dimensions, into computer generated sets in order to render the scenes from the film. On the train were a number of the miniature "sets" animators used to create the world of Scrooge as it existed in the mid-nineteenth century, all of which I found fascinating. There was also a small theater set up outside the train station where we were able to screen about ten minutes of scenes from the film in 3D.
Seeing the Christmas Carol train turned out to be a nice little break from the heat and the drudgery of packing the house. It's a clever marketing tool (leave it to Disney), an educational tool for those interested in film production, and a nice exhibit of historical artifacts from one of our most revered authors.