Photo Credit: Disney; Twentieth Century Fox
Director Robert Zemeckis has turned away from conventional movies. The director of such modern classics as Forrest Gump and Back to the Future, Zemeckis hasn't made a live-action film since 2000's Tom Hanks film Cast Away. Instead, he's been concentrating on animation, using "motion-capture" technology to craft films like The Polar Express, Beowulf and this year's A Christmas Carol. And now he would like the Academy to recognize him for it.
"I'd say that the appropriate thing would be to create a new [Oscar] category [for motion capture films]," Zemeckis said in a new interview. "Like when Walt Disney made the first animated movie. He got a special award since no one had ever done that."
If you're thinking that Zemeckis is cocky to compare his own animation achievements with Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (which marked the birth of the animated feature film), we're with you. The thing is, Zemeckis has gotten an award like this before; his Who Framed Roger Rabbit? received a Special Achievement Oscar in 1989, for its unprecedented combination of animation and live-action footage.
Should motion-capture animation -- in which the movement of live actors is recorded and digitized -- merit its own special Oscar? We would argue against it. For one, it's not a totally new idea; it's a 3-D digital an update of a very old animation technique called "rotoscoping," where film footage is traced frame-by-frame and animated. (Rotoscoping was used in early Disney films, and more recently in the feature film A Scanner Darkly.) There's also a lot of crossover between motion-capture and other CG animation techniques, because live actors obviously can't perform special effects like flying or transforming into monsters. Finally, the technology still seems like it has a ways to go. A lot of audiences find motion-capture animation creepy and offputting, with its people who look real-but-not-quite real (the "uncanny valley" effect.)
In Zemeckis' defense, motion-capture is getting more popular all the time, and may soon have its heyday. Two of the most buzzed-about upcoming movies, James Cameron's Avatar and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, will both use motion-capture to create their fantasy universes.
Do you think these movies deserve their own category? Chime in below!