The Polar Express: The trailer for the upcoming Tom Hanks CGI animated project, The Polar Express, is slated for release on TV this Thursday and into theaters on Friday. You'll be able to find the video online by keeping your eyes on our Trailers Section.

In addition, USA Today' have up a new preview of the film...

"I wanted it to look like a movie in an oil painting, then have all the warmth, immediacy and subtleties of a human performance," Zemeckis says in this first look at the movie. It's due in theaters Nov. 19.

The classic children's tale by Chris Van Allsburg is about a boy who takes a night train to visit Santa in the North Pole. It stars Tom Hanks, who also is executive producer of the film, and Nona Gaye, the late Marvin Gaye's daughter.

Actors recently finished shooting the movie, which involved an unusual process to achieve the painterly effect. Unlike most movies, it was filmed in the chronological sequence in which the action occurs in the book.

Here's how it works:

• The actors film the story in what is called a "black box theater," where they perform their scenes as if in a theater in the round. But they are wearing more than just makeup: Their faces are painted with hundreds of reflective dots on every muscle, eyelid, eyebrow and locus of expression.

• Computers with infrared receptors surround the actors, recording the nuances of their performances.

• That digital information is transferred to a computer, which then places the actor's image in a painted setting from the book.

To achieve the artistic effect, Zemeckis called upon a team of artists led by Doug Chang, who created the palette for the way the images will look, based on Van Allsburg's distinctive illustrations.

"When Tom (Hanks) and I were thinking about how we could do this book as a movie, we scratched our heads and asked, 'How do you do a train going to the North Pole at night on Christmas Eve?' We decided to explore all aspects of digital cinema. We tried human characters against a blue screen. We went through every possible technique.

"Then we tried this very new form, and when we got the results back, we decided this is the only way we can do it."

Because in this process scenes are shot from beginning to end, a lot more of the script is covered in a shorter amount of time.

"The actors don't have to stop for set-ups or camera angles," says Zemeckis, who also directed Cast Away and Forrest Gump.

"Everything is in continuity. So it's wonderfully liberating for the actors: They can just act. They don't have to think of all the technical things," he says.

The shoot was finished in 40 days, fast for a big-budget movie.

Brian B.