Saturday, January 01, 2011

The New Travelers to Animationland

To follow up on how animation has been increasingly successful (read "profitable") and pervasive over the past dozen years, the LA Times notes how the live-action community increasingly wades into the medium.

... With the extensive use of computer-generated animation, or CG, in movies such as the "Pirates" franchise, "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland," the lines are blurring between live-action and animated pictures in a way that Walt Disney himself could have scarcely imagined. That has created opportunities for directors, cinematographers and even production designers to transfer their skills from one medium to another.

"As live-action filmmaking, in terms of its process and tools, comes closer and closer to the way we've always made our animated movies, the crossover has been made much easier for filmmakers,'' said Bill Damaschke, co-president of production for Glendale-based DreamWorks Animation. "It's probably exploded over the last two or three years."

In a sign of that crossover, DreamWorks Animation recently partnered with Guillermo del Toro, director of such dark fantasy films as "Pan's Labyrinth" and such supernatural action movies as "Hellboy." Del Toro spends at least two days each week at DreamWorks, where he is writing and directing his first animated feature, "Trollhunters," a story about kids experiencing growing pains in a magical world.

"It's almost an irresistible medium to play in,'' said Del Toro. "I'm a filmmaker who is interested in truth and not reality, and I think there is great emotional truth and power to be found in animation." ...

Sure, the "lines are blurring," but it's more than that. Live-action filmmakers aren't coming to feature animation simply because many of the processes have merged. They've gotten their passports stamped and immigrated because "animated features" have become more legit in the eyes of the public. Just look at the grosses. (And yeah, there are holdouts. James Cameron heatedly maintains that Avatar is a live-action feature even though sizable chunks of it are animated.)

While it's true that live-action movies have become more like animated product, and animated features have taken on much of the visual sheen of their live-action cousins, the larger point is this: There is no longer a stigma to working in animation. Live-action writers might chafe under the fact that the scripting isn't under the WGA, but they still take the work. And live-action directors don't perceive the medium as step down in the industry pecking order, but honorable service in a co-equal branch of the business.

This wasn't the case twenty or thirty years ago. Back in the day, animation directors with lofty ambitions strove to climb to the sunlit uplands of "actual movies" shot on actual movie sets. Animation was a sleepy, backwater ghetto of the entertainment business that hard-chargers used as a stepping stone on their way to "real movie making."

By and large that's no longer the case. The times, as they say, have changed.

22 comments:

Animator said...

Time to up wage minimums across the board! Right?

Just Some Guy said...

Ah! I still have such fond memories when people would debate if Avatar should be considered an animated feature. Good times...

True, the "lines are blurring" but that just means more work for animators when their respective studio decides to lay them off.

Anonymous said...

The lines may be "blurring" for the technology, but the directors are still on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon: Live-action directors STILL have no idea how to make animated movies.
(Even when Robert Zemeckis and Gore Verbinski look at their VFX departments and think, "So how hard could it be?)

Just Some Guy said...

Live-action directors STILL have no idea how to make animated movies.

Which reminds me of the debate on whether motion-capture was ever considered a true medium to animation.

Anonymous said...

There's no difference between animated films and live action ones...Just "good" and "bad" films. Geet over that already.

Against Anonymity said...

"There's no difference between animated films and live action ones...Just "good" and "bad" films. Geet over that already."

And winner of most ignorant comment is...

Anonymous said...

Yes, sadly, whoever thinks there is a difference. Love all these "animation" people expecting a different set of standards (lower) for films when it comes to animation. And also whining about animation being relegated to the kids table.

There is no difference between animated films and live action ones. Unless you believe animation is a genre.

Anonymous said...

Shut up dickface

Anonymous said...

Y'know, I used to complain that Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame looked "like the animated version of next year's stage musical", featuring scenes of "animated humans standing around in one place singing".

Such simpler times--Seeing Robert Zemeckis block Christmas Carol out like a stage play almost made me want to take that comment back:
By definition, the first thing in knowing how to animate a movie is knowing how to make things MOVE, instead of stand around different places of the room and talk pages of script dialogue. Which you can lose the knack for, if you work too long with flesh-and-blood actors in your movies, and that's all you know how to do.

Anonymous said...

Ahh-- the old "I know he's right but I can't admit it so I'll curse to show how truly ignorant I am" canard.

There is NO DIFFERENCE between live action and animated films.

Anonymous said...

No, its the old "arguing with an idiot is a waste of time" canard.

Medium DOES have an impact on how films are made, perceived, and ultimately, how they perform at box office.

All you are saying is "story matters despite the medium," which is true. But WE are saying that "medium MATTERS."

So I say again, shut up dickface. You arent smart enough to even understand the debate.

Anonymous said...

Boy, you truly are an ignoramus. Have fun trolling the Internet from your mother's basement. I'm sure another job at 7-11 will open up soon.

Anonymous said...

Now who's conceding defeat?

Anonymous said...

You? Or someone with 35 years of experience in the industry? Mw.

There is NO difference between animated features and live action.

If there are,spell them out. Or stop playing baby by continuing to enforce the incorrect notion that animation is for toddlers.

Anonymous said...

For a 35 year veteran, I'd figure you'd have better manners.

And I never said animation was for toddlers. Theres a lot of Anonymous's on here.

Anonymous said...

There is NO difference between animated features and live action.

Yet, the Box Office clearly shows otherwise...

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

"For a 35 year veteran, I'd figure you'd have better manners."

Who called whom "dickhead," kiddo? Professionalism is as welcomed as facts, both of which I provided.

And yet, there is still no difference between animated films and live action ones (other than box office, if not always profit!!).

Anonymous said...

Instead of just repeating yourself ad-nauseum, can you please explain a bit further what you mean by "there is no difference." Im truly confused. I mean, they ARE different types of film. And yes, animation can be whatever genre it wants to be (drama, comedy, romance, etc), and story has to be good no matter what, but I find it hard to swallow that "live action" and "animated" have zero difference???

Explain!

Anonymous said...

It's rather obvious.

How about doing what I suggested FIRST and tell me what you "think" the differences are.

The AUDIENCE doesn't care.

yahweh said...

You're the one who keeps saying "it doesn't matter" and "no one cares" and you seem to think yelling it will make it true.
Learn some debating skills and prove your thesis or at least argue it.

So far you're best defense is "It's rather obvious". Really?
I'm sure the guy/gal that's been fighting with you thinks the exact same thing about his position.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think you could. Welcome to the business, kid. You've got a lot to learn. Start with a GED.

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