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Should a motion-capture film be nominated for Best Animated Film?

Jun. 6, 2011by: Mike Sampson

In 2006, MONSTER HOUSE became the first motion-capture film to be nominated for a Best Animated Film Oscar. But last year, a decision was handed down stating motion-capture animated films would be ineligible for the Best Animated Film Oscar. Up until this point, however, Steven Spielberg had never directed a mo-cap film. That's all about to change this holiday season as Spielberg releases THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN. It's a movie both he and Paramount feel has the chance to be nominated for an Oscar - namely the Best Animated Film. But is TINTIN really an animated film and should the Oscars make an exception?

Spielberg has touched off a controversy within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a notoriously stodgy and old-fashioned group if there ever was one, about whether motion-capture films and, specifically, THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN are eligible to be nominated for Best Animated Film. Their decision last year claimed, "Motion capture by itself is not an animation technique." But expect an appeal on that decision in advance of this year's Oscars.

The AMPAS would very much like to accommodate Mr. Spielberg, a legendary director whose clout bucket overfloweth, but at the same time isn't really convinced that mo-cap films are animated. For one, they're based off live-action performances. Well, OK, so was RANGO and that was surely animated. But with mo-cap, the animation is all centered around the actor who is basically puppeting a 3D model. There are parts of mo-cap films that are most definitely animated but there are parts of ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS that's animated and that's certainly not getting nominated.

Both Spielberg and Paramount will be making the case for mo-cap films and I'm assuming they'll be joined by Warner Bros. who have HAPPY FEET TWO coming out later this year. So where do you stand? Should these films stand alongside Pixar movies that are 100% animated with zero motion-capture technology or should the Academy stand strong?

Source: LA Times

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11:09AM on 06/06/2011
Animating or using MoCap is just only one part of a CGI-production. There is much more to do to get a film out in the end. Everything has to be designed, modelled, shaded, lighted, rendered and composed too. Also when characters are motion captured, the rest has to be animated in an old fashion way (props and environment). I wouldn't take "Best ANIMATED Film" too literal.
Animating or using MoCap is just only one part of a CGI-production. There is much more to do to get a film out in the end. Everything has to be designed, modelled, shaded, lighted, rendered and composed too. Also when characters are motion captured, the rest has to be animated in an old fashion way (props and environment). I wouldn't take "Best ANIMATED Film" too literal.
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11:11AM on 06/06/2011
Not sure how you can say that this isn't animation. The motion capture process is just step one in creating this film. It's not like once they're done with the actors they're done with the movie. The animators still have to create EVERYTHING that is on screen. They've just had help with certain movements.
Not sure how you can say that this isn't animation. The motion capture process is just step one in creating this film. It's not like once they're done with the actors they're done with the movie. The animators still have to create EVERYTHING that is on screen. They've just had help with certain movements.
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9:30AM on 06/06/2011

Definitely

While this movie does use motion-capture, the rest of movie still uses computer animation.
While this movie does use motion-capture, the rest of movie still uses computer animation.
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11:58PM on 06/06/2011

theres a difference between mocap and video ref.

motion capture is feeding the actors movements/physical preformance into the computer to animate the wireframe skeleton or 'bones' of the digital character.
video reference, like rango or snow white, is different, in that the physical preformance isnt directly fed into the computer, animators look at the video and use it to decide how to manipulate something themselves and use it as a baseline on what the characters should eventually look like when moving around.
Rotoscoping is kind-of what
motion capture is feeding the actors movements/physical preformance into the computer to animate the wireframe skeleton or 'bones' of the digital character.
video reference, like rango or snow white, is different, in that the physical preformance isnt directly fed into the computer, animators look at the video and use it to decide how to manipulate something themselves and use it as a baseline on what the characters should eventually look like when moving around.
Rotoscoping is kind-of what they used in show white , like for her dress in some spots. thats when you draw directly on/over the film, frame by frame.
now, that said, motion capture is kind of a grey area, because you are animateing some parts,it DOES however depend film by film, and i think perhaps they should judge it on a by film basis. if the film is more physical/actual actors preformances, then put them in for best film. if its more the animator's 'acting' or rather more manipulated by an animator, then put it into best animated film.
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11:12AM on 06/06/2011
I don't think it should be considered. Even if it's a film that's "mostly" animated, like Avatar. Avatar was not an animated motion picture. It shouldn't be grouped with WALL-E or Kung Fu Panda.

Though, WALL-E did have Fred Willard in the flesh, it was only for like 1% of the movie. Directors using mo-cap should respect the art of true animation. Mo-cap looks cool, but no one went through each frame and told Tintin's arm where to be. A magical suit did that. Just one man's opinion, though.
I don't think it should be considered. Even if it's a film that's "mostly" animated, like Avatar. Avatar was not an animated motion picture. It shouldn't be grouped with WALL-E or Kung Fu Panda.

Though, WALL-E did have Fred Willard in the flesh, it was only for like 1% of the movie. Directors using mo-cap should respect the art of true animation. Mo-cap looks cool, but no one went through each frame and told Tintin's arm where to be. A magical suit did that. Just one man's opinion, though.
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11:07AM on 06/06/2011
Very interesting. I think it should definitely be considered animation. While you don't animate the movement of the lead actors, you still have to animate the look of the characters and the design of their costumes, etc. Mo-cap doesn't do ALL the work for you. Plus, everything else in the film HAS to be animated. It's just the actors that aren't.

But then again... where does Avatar stand in this category? Should that have been up for best ANIMATED picture, rather than simply best
Very interesting. I think it should definitely be considered animation. While you don't animate the movement of the lead actors, you still have to animate the look of the characters and the design of their costumes, etc. Mo-cap doesn't do ALL the work for you. Plus, everything else in the film HAS to be animated. It's just the actors that aren't.

But then again... where does Avatar stand in this category? Should that have been up for best ANIMATED picture, rather than simply best picture?
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10:34AM on 06/06/2011
This is an interesting debate. Where do you draw the line. If Tin Tin can be nominated for best animated movie, couldn't Avatar as well? Personally I think it should be considered animated as long as there is nothing from the visible real world on the screen. To me Mocap is like tracing, you cant say its not a drawing, its just a different way to do it.
This is an interesting debate. Where do you draw the line. If Tin Tin can be nominated for best animated movie, couldn't Avatar as well? Personally I think it should be considered animated as long as there is nothing from the visible real world on the screen. To me Mocap is like tracing, you cant say its not a drawing, its just a different way to do it.
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+3
1:54PM on 06/06/2011
Actually, it all depends on if you have animators working on the characters (facial expressions, etc.) after the mo-cap. There were a team of animators that worked on Golem in the LOTR trilogy, and that's why that mo-cap didn't look creepy or dead-eyed. But if you're just slapping an animation program over points on an actor's suit, then no.
Actually, it all depends on if you have animators working on the characters (facial expressions, etc.) after the mo-cap. There were a team of animators that worked on Golem in the LOTR trilogy, and that's why that mo-cap didn't look creepy or dead-eyed. But if you're just slapping an animation program over points on an actor's suit, then no.
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9:20AM on 06/06/2011
Now THAT is an interesting subject of debate! I hope that MoCap IS recognized for acting and not just as a neat animation trick...and that said, you BET I want TINTIN to be awesome and nominated for the big'ns.
Now THAT is an interesting subject of debate! I hope that MoCap IS recognized for acting and not just as a neat animation trick...and that said, you BET I want TINTIN to be awesome and nominated for the big'ns.
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4:22AM on 06/07/2011
Christ a great movie is a great movie, one fucking category for best of overall film, ditch this animated debacle.
Christ a great movie is a great movie, one fucking category for best of overall film, ditch this animated debacle.
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4:31PM on 06/06/2011
I think they should be separate, especially as performance capture will be used more and more in live action films.
I think they should be separate, especially as performance capture will be used more and more in live action films.
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10:04AM on 06/06/2011
I'm stodgy and old fashioned, but I would have to say that 3D animation is still animation... interesting debate, though.
I'm stodgy and old fashioned, but I would have to say that 3D animation is still animation... interesting debate, though.
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9:48PM on 06/06/2011
Snow White used an actress to capture motion. You'll be nitpicking for the next hundred years if you start now.
Snow White used an actress to capture motion. You'll be nitpicking for the next hundred years if you start now.
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9:47AM on 06/06/2011

This is where i stand on it anyways...

Essentially, it's just digital costumes and set designs. Real actors layered over with costumes and backgrounds put in behind. I don't think it's animated.

Animation is making something inanimate come to life. CGI, Stop motion, hand drawn is about creating movement out of nothing.

This is just studios wanting more oscars.

I think there is a future mocap but i don't think it should be considered animation. In fact i wish there was more animater involvement. Gollum and Kin Kong are
Essentially, it's just digital costumes and set designs. Real actors layered over with costumes and backgrounds put in behind. I don't think it's animated.

Animation is making something inanimate come to life. CGI, Stop motion, hand drawn is about creating movement out of nothing.

This is just studios wanting more oscars.

I think there is a future mocap but i don't think it should be considered animation. In fact i wish there was more animater involvement. Gollum and Kin Kong are the only motion capture characters i think have worked so far and it's because actual animaters were in charge of tweaking the footage appropriately. That's why i had high hopes when Jackson's name was mentioned for this but from what i've seen so far it looks like it's going to be a glossier Zemeckis dead eye fest.

Tin Tin is still going to be awesome. Just not for it's visuals.
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11:53PM on 06/06/2011
It's most definitely animation. I never heard anyone saying roto-scoping wasn't animation, and all mo-cap is tech heavy roto-scoping. Sure, the performances aren't 100% animated, but everything around them most assuredly is. End of debate.
It's most definitely animation. I never heard anyone saying roto-scoping wasn't animation, and all mo-cap is tech heavy roto-scoping. Sure, the performances aren't 100% animated, but everything around them most assuredly is. End of debate.
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5:25PM on 06/06/2011

Interesting debate

Not sure where I stand on this now, I'll have to hear more arguments on both sides.

But it is important to note I think, that motion capture is not a perfect science.

Even when motion is captured, the MoCap data has to be adjusted by hand by animators. So even in motion capture, there is still hand animation involved.
Not sure where I stand on this now, I'll have to hear more arguments on both sides.

But it is important to note I think, that motion capture is not a perfect science.

Even when motion is captured, the MoCap data has to be adjusted by hand by animators. So even in motion capture, there is still hand animation involved.
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-3
5:31AM on 06/07/2011
Mo-cap is nothing but a high-tech version of rotoscoping. If any of the old Disney movies were ever nominated, then the Academy has a lot of backpedaling to do.
Mo-cap is nothing but a high-tech version of rotoscoping. If any of the old Disney movies were ever nominated, then the Academy has a lot of backpedaling to do.
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-5
5:09PM on 06/06/2011

why?

it's motion capture animation. Of course that doesn't mean you go and say 'Tintin looks way more realistic than Kung Fu Panda 2' but they're still both animated features. That's like saying Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is an animated film.
it's motion capture animation. Of course that doesn't mean you go and say 'Tintin looks way more realistic than Kung Fu Panda 2' but they're still both animated features. That's like saying Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is an animated film.
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