Almost as if on cue, the Academy unwittingly helps illustrate the validity of much of the polemic seen in many animation blogs over the last year. How so? Your 2007 Academy Award nominees for best “animated” film are….
Only one of those three films used actual animation as the foundation for the character performances. The other two films captured live motion for the primary core act of imbuing the illusion of life to the puppets. When it comes to performance they have more in common with The Muppets Take Manhattan than they do with The Lion King. But it’s too much bother to worry about that. Nobody’s keeping score anyhow, so let’s just call it all “animation” and be done with it. And so we are witnessing the end game of the slow redefinition of terms.
As usual Mark Mayerson speaks softly and carries a whippin’ big stick of common sense. When you’re not animating things anymore (as animation has been defined for 80+ years), what’s the point of calling it an animated film? Increasingly the delineation is based on the technique of visual rendering and little else. A Scanner Darkly was more about graphic rendering than animation since it was pretty much a paint over rotoscope project, yet it still qualified as an “animated” film. Want more evidence? Arthur & The Invisibles was disqualified from the “animation” category because less than 75% of its run-time was not rendered. They didn’t disqualify it because it had too little animation in it. The production relied on mo-cap– just like the majority of the nominees did. So obviously real animation is not the delineating measure for this Academy category. Rendering is.