Thursday, December 08, 2011

Stating the Obvious

And the L.A. Times is good at it.

... "The Adventures of Tintin," which Spielberg directed and Jackson produced, is stretching the very definition of animation. ... "Tintin" makes the leap to the big screen via motion capture, with Jamie Bell as Tintin and Andy Serkis as his sidekick Capt. Haddock. Snowy, Tintin's canine companion, is a wholly animated character.

Gee. Sort of like the rotoscoped/motion-captured Snow White and Prince, existing side by side with the wholly animated Seven Dwarfs. ...

The tools Spielberg used to make Tintin are in many cases identical to ones James Cameron relied on for "Avatar," a movie treated by critics and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as live action.

Which would lead one to believe that the categories of "animation" and "not animation" are kind of ... what's the word? ... arbitrary. If an Important Person With Leverage wants it to be a cartoon, it's a cartoon.

And if a VIP wants it to be live action, it's live action.

The problem, you see, goes all the way back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Prince is not exactly the same kind of character that the Seven Little Men are. He's not conceived the same way, nor drawn (or moved) the same way. But the label for everything in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been ... and will continue to be ... "animation."

So when you chew on that awhile, you start to see why, seventy-four years further on, there is a big fat Gray Area for Mr. Spielberg and Ms. Kennedy to drive their semi-trailers through.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chew on this: Rotoscope is done with filmstock and Mocap is done in computer. The use of rotoscope in animation is the industrys biggest secret. The degree to which it is used is often justified as "only" reference, which is a pile of 839 crappola. The statement that it was used on the Prince and Whitey-White-White and not on the dwarfs is not so true when you see the roly-poly live action footage shown as a DVD extra and the animated dwarf (Doc?) dancing his fool-butt off. Calling a spade a spade, roto is a tool, just like your Conglom CEO's stated CG was "Just" a tool 25 years ago, and now where has it got us? YOU helping to blur the lines between Live-Action,Animation, CG, MoCap (and now included "Free Inside This Specially Marked Package Of".... VFX ! ). It's why they let you live in this business in your job-function. Just keep adjusting the blinders on us with your style. We who are entertained by you - admire you quite immensely.

Anonymous said...

huh... you sound really impassioned Anon, but I can't decipher what you're actually trying to say...

Anonymous said...

I shot reference of myself acting for an animated film I worked on that won an Oscar.

Should I get a best actor nomination?

Anonymous said...

Rambly ranter is RAMBLING!

VfxWiz said...

Tintin is really fun Go see it !

Anonymous said...

TinTin sucks balls! More Lifeless dead Mo-Crap.

Anonymous said...

The animation industry is still changing rapidly.

Anonymous said...

It's not the animation industry changing. It's the FILM industry. Stop sticking us at the kids table.

Big difference between Snow White and tin tin is Snow White is a truly great film. And tin tin is a non-stop characterless mush for small children who have add.

They should have mo-capped the dog, though. If someone "animated" it, they should be ashamed. It's AWFUL. Weightless, bad timing, and no character at all.

Steve Hulett said...

Chew on this: Rotoscope is done with filmstock and Mocap is done in computer. ... (etc.)

I don't know what you're trying to say, but you certainly do say it.

But thanks for making my point. The definition for what constitutes animation is always slippery. Some "Snow White" characters were traced live-action, some had reference material, and some was conjured from a blank sheet of paper (no live-action anchor at all.)

The technology has changed in the digital age, but the principals remain the same. Some animation has live-action under-pinnings, and some doesn't.

And who gets to declare what audiences are watching is "animation?" Whoever has the power to make their particular label stick.

It's arbitrary.

cmsattler said...

Look, the filmmakers could care less about what is animated and what is not... they just want to tell a story in a unique way. Techniques are just that -- when looking at a painting you see some of the technique -- but the overall subject or emotional connect is what is more important. Yes there's bad animation out there -- but if the STORY OR CHARACTER comes through -- so what?

As far as Anonymous complaint about a film he worked on got an Oscar -- and he should get a best acting Oscar: I agree! There should be a new category for best animated character -- this way all that are involved with realizing that character should share in the award.

Anonymous said...

Rather than that, they should eliminate Best Animated Feature catagory, and just fold it into "Best Picture" award.

While your at it, can someone make the Annie Awards NOT boring? For a crew of so-called "creative" people, it sure is one uncreative show. Hopes are not high things will get better under the reign of frank gladstone--more of the same, only worse.

Anonymous said...

I've been to the Annies 5 times, and I've always found them entertaining. It's by far the loosest and funniest awards show I can think of.

Steve Hulett said...

If you eliminated "Best Animated Feature" as an award category, no animated feature will ever win a Little Gold Man.

Academy membership will NEVER give the "Best Picture" award to an animated feature. No matter how good it is.

Anonymous said...

Rango is an example of animated film making that used mocap judiciously and in a sophisticated way. Beautiful to look at, wildly entertaining and a smash hit at the box office.

Floyd Norman said...

All Award shows are boring. They're simply industry pep rallies where everybody sucks up to the "royalty" in studios. It's how you get another job.

The Annie Awards have always been far better than most of the big time Hollywood snooze fests.

stevenem said...

Tin Tin and Avatar are as different as night and day. Although they have a technique in common, mo-cap, they differ completely in context. In Avatar, the mo-capped characters interact with live actors in a live action environment. They are just altered live actors. It's like digital make up. Tin Tin is completely stylized. It's based on comic book art and characters. The entire creative environment is artwork. The mo-cap is a short cut. The characters were never meant to be perceived as real.

We shouldn't be reducing categories. We should be adding them, like the Golden Globes two best picture awards; one for musical/comedy and one for drama.

Anonymous said...

stevenem said...
"In Avatar, the mo-capped characters interact with live actors in a live action environment. They are just altered live actors."

Just like Snow White and the Prince were altered live-actors.

Anonymous said...
"Rather than that, they should eliminate Best Animated Feature catagory, and just fold it into "Best Picture" award."

I agree. Keep it simple.

Steve Hulett said...
"If you eliminated "Best Animated Feature" as an award category, no animated feature will ever win a Little Gold Man."

I dont disagree, but having been a part of the Beauty and the Beast project, I know it could come really close, and it would have to be so darn good to get the gold man. Not impossible.

Anonymous said...
"Rambly ranter is RAMBLING!"

You need to get smacked 'mong-side the head.

el diablo said...

It's fun to watch all of you bicker about semantics.

Seems clear to me, keyframe animation can suck as much as poorly applied mocap. Or,both techniques can be succesful at it as well. Plotlines and character arcs are independent of the techniques used.
As far as awards go, ALL awards have politics going underneath the surface. Its a pretty corrupt system anyway...

d.

Anonymous said...

Rango used no mocap.

Avatar and Tintin used the same technique. One filmmaker says it's live-ation, the other says it's animated. Like Steve said. It's arbitrary.

Anonymous said...

Even more interesting than the whole animation-or-not discussion is the whole mo-cap-is-a-wonderful-technique.

I don't care if the hair moves more realistically, or if the skin has more bumps on it; this is just Zemeckis' dead-eyed mo-cap, the film technique film geeks had once loathed with a passion.

Anonymous said...

"Rango is an example of animated film making that used mocap judiciously and in a sophisticated way. Beautiful to look at, wildly entertaining and a smash hit at the box office."

Troll Fail.

As for Tintin -- look, we can all agree the kid is creepy, but can we at least give credit for the fine work on Captain Haddock?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Haddock was the most successful one and the acting choices were funny.

The movie should have been stylized though, a la Ratatouille.

Anonymous said...

I think Snowy was really the most appealingly handled character in the film.

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