Friday, January 26, 2007

Will the Real Oscar-nominated Animated Film Please Stand Up?

The nominees for this year's Oscar™ for best animated film are in:
  • Cars (Disney/Pixar)
  • Happy Feet (Warner Brothers/Animal Logic)
  • Monster House (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Imageworks)
Whoa! Dreamworks is shut out entirely despite having two in the running, Over the Hedge and Flushed Away. No love for Ice Age or Open Season either.

Unlike last year, in which two stop-motion puppet animation films were in the running, this year we have one key-framed CG feature, and two others that are largely motion-capture based. (You can be certain the House in Monster House was key-framed though...)

There's quite a bit of controversy over this in the animation realm. Some purists are arguing "It's not animation!" and some even suggest it's more like puppetry (I beg to differ -- it's more like mime or acting in a suit than it is puppetry) Sigh. I remember when folks were arguing computer animation wasn't animation because it didn't involve drawings. Then they realized "oh... stop motion has puppets, not drawings." "Well, ok, but artists are doing things frame by frame!"

I believe that suggests at least two spectra. One one axis, Acting and Puppetry at one end are real-time arts. Forms of Theatre. (Think analog watch.) Animation is at the other end of it is discrete (think digital watch) There's another axis, Tangible arts (Physical Things) vs. Intangible.

As technology changes, we're finding that hybrids are emerging. Life is increasingly digital and intangible and so is Art. So I don't think it's unreasonable to find ourselves having difficulty labeling things using old forms of classification.

Puppetry purists are likewise constantly debating what is Puppetry vs. NOT-Puppetry, and just like animation purists, often declaring the NOT-artform to be inferior or degrading. (Personally, I see this as a sign of an artform with an Inferiority Complex.)

I suppose labels matter when it comes to meeting Academy Elligibility Requirements, but artistically, not so much.

And for what it's worth, this is not so much an essay as it's an unedited, rambling blog entry. So there.

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posted by Brian at 12:44 AM

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