I would like to thank the Academy…

So, the Oscar nominations are in and already the press is filled with a slew of ‘Tin Tin snubbed’ comments. I, however, would like to thank The Academy for not bowing to popular pressure and public expectation.

The basic fact is, last year The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences pinned their colors firmly to the pole when it comes to animation. If you read my last post, on this subject, you will already understand. For those of you who missed it, take a quick pause and head over there just now.

In that last post I cited the official Oscars® ruling on animated films which, to cut a long story short, rules out motion (or performance) capture from qualifying as animation. The Adventures of Tin Tin is almost entirely performance capture and so, quite rightly, cannot qualify for the Best Animated Film category.

This year’s nominations are; . A fairly large group this year compared to the 3 from last year, which included our very own (as in, the film both my wife and I worked on) The Illusionist.

I am slightly ashamed to confess that I have not seen a single one of these. However, I am to rectify that over the next couple of weeks and I will return to give you my thoughts on how these measure up and which I think should get the little golden fella for their mantlepiece.

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The Adventures of Tin Tin: Best ‘Animated’ Film…But is it?

As many will no doubt have heard, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s The Adventures of Tin Tin walked away from the Golden Globes this week with the Best Animated Film award. Commonly, though not exclusively, this has meant that the film would be a shoe-in for the Oscar® of the same category. And, unsurprisingly, The Adventures of Tin Tin is currently campaigning for such consideration. However, I would like to protest this.

Now, I’m not making a comment on the film itself or whether or not it is good enough to win such awards. In fact, I have not even had the opportunity to watch it. I have been well-informed that it is a good movie and from what I have seen of it, it looks pretty good to me. No, I am actually commenting on whether or not the film should even be put up for consideration at all.

Last year, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the awarders of the coveted, aforementioned Oscars®) published new rules governing the eligibility for consideration to the Best Animated Feature Film Award. These are unchanged for this year’s looming Awards and an extract can be read below:

Rule Seven: Special Rules for the Best Animated Feature Film Award

  1. DEFINITION: An animated feature film is defined as a motion picture with a running time of more than 40 minutes, in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique.  Motion capture by itself is not an animation technique.  In addition, a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time

The full rule can be read HERE

From what I understand, ‘ Tin Tin, in regard to the major characters at least, is performance (or motion) capture and, therefore, should not be eligible for consideration in the Best Animated Film category of the Oscars®.

However, from my research, it would appear that other major awards are not so specific on their requirements or definitions. The Golden Globes, as far as I can see, do not have any special rules or requirements covering animated films. The Annies, presented by The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood are specifically for animation yet do not seem to have available a definition of animation but each award is given “in recognition of creative excellence in the art of animation.” Somewhat ambiguous but I would suggest that using the term art would suggest something more hand-crafted. The BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Awards) state in their rule book, “17. ANIMATED FILM: A film will be classed as an animated feature film if it is primarily animated throughout the majority of the length of the film and has a significant number of animated major characters;”. More specific but, again, does not define the term animated, however, there is a heavy insinuation in the wording.

Tin Tin is scooping up Best Animated Film awards left, right and centre and, for the majority it would seem that, due to imprecise or lacking definitions and unspecific eligibility rules, its receipt of these cannot be contested beyond personal opinion. In the case of the Oscars®, though, I think the rules and definition are clear. The Adventures of Tin Tin is not eligible for consideration to the category of Best Animated Film, it quite clearly does not meet the requirements. Of course, the nominations are not out yet and it may prove that The Academy do not allow it, we will have to wait and see.

Finally, as something of a disclaimer, I am not against motion/performance capture as a tool and I have even worked with it in production. It has a wealth of value and any number of valid uses, including filmmaking. As an animator, however, I do feel that the two – animation and motion capture – ought to be separated. Animation is an art and a craft, whether it is 2D, 3D, stop-motion, traditional or digital. Motion-capture is a tool, a technology. Like I say, it has its place and value but it is not animation.