Last year I wrote an editorial headlined “Should ‘Avatar’ Be Considered for Best Animated Oscar?” I asked this based on the fact it was using motion capture techniques such as those used in Disney’s A Christmas Carol, which was one of the 20 animated films to make Oscar’s short list last year. So why was one film considered animation and the other wasn’t?
I took a look at many different aspects of animation including Marge Champion who acted out the role of Snow White for Disney animators oh so long ago and included a video of Helene Stanley who served as the live action model for Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Anita from 101 Dalmations. Is there really much of a difference between using a live model for hand animation and using motion capture for computer animation? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has all the answers and it’s the primary update to their just released rules for the 83rd Academy Awards.
Below is an excerpt from their official press release with the newly added line in bold:
Just as 3D is taking over the multiplexes as a result of James Cameron’s Avatar, the “Avatar Effect” has now directly effected the Oscars as I have no doubt this line was included as a direct result of the amount of animation in Avatar versus live action. However, look at that pic just above, the motion capture was only part of the animation as adding the landscape in the background was the rest. This, to me, means Avatar was not “motion capture by itself,” but motion capture mixed with traditional CG animation. Am I looking too deep or just evaluating the rules as they are written?
However, why films such as Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel are considered animated and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is not is probably a question best left for next year’s Oscar rules.
I now ask you, do you agree with the distinction? Should motion capture as used in Avatar be considered animation? If not, do you still see Disney’s A Christmas Carol as animation or is that too something of a different beast?