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Benefits of Animation vs. Live Acting

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In terms of movies, I believe that animation is better than regular filmmaking, simply because an animated movie requires a lot more talent and skill than a standard film does. There are different styles used in regular movie production, and there are combinations of styles used in filmmaking. Most regular films use computers to digitally enhance parts, but mostly on a smaller scale, unlike the few major films that use computer graphics excessively.

I enjoy watching animation, because it gives me a feel of what technologies exist today (even hand-drawn cel animation uses computers to digitally enhance coloration and lighting). I enjoy watching traditional live-action movies, because they relate the skill of filmmakers and directors, who can’t really use digital technology except to enhance lighting and such. And I enjoy watching combinations, especially regular movies with fantastic special effects, because of my personal interest in computer graphics.

However, I enjoy attempting to do animation, and computer drawing myself, so in my opinion, hand drawn and computer generated animations are a display of more skill and effort than ordinary, live action film. The field of animation goes back to nearly the beginning of the film industry, with hand drawn cartoons being filmed and played on TV

and theaters. Different as they are, both types of theater share common features.

In the early days of motion pictures, film quality was low, color and sound were virtually non-existent, and special effects were achieved using physical props, instead of digital enhancement. Thankfully, Filmography has moved a long way. A movie today is considered by more factors than story alone: to make a good picture, lighting has to be smooth, color and sound must be top quality, as well as having good actors and a good plot. It is nearly impossible for a director to get exactly the right amount of lighting and color in all shots and takes of a film. Digital enhancement allows fine-tuning and minor tweaking to enable a smooth transition between scenes.

Character animation has been around since the beginning of the motion picture industry. Animation was always a special art, requiring a lot of skill and patience to accomplish. Animation only started to become really popular in the 1960’s and ’70’s, with classics such as Disney’s “Fantasia” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

What used to be a skilled art, requiring a lot of patience and painstakingly filming one frame at a time, has now evolved into a much more efficient system, in which frame by frame rendering is done by computer instead of by hand. An equally important art is film directing. Just as filming requires many shots and many takes before you get your “perfect shot,” so too animating characters must be done in a certain fashion, must be done in a purposeful manner, so you get the same visual quality as in a standard 35mm film.

35-millimeter film is accepted as the industry standard for producing movies. But is traditional film better than animation? To understand this, we must look at the common attributes shared by both industries.

Both movies and animated features require good directing. The director needs to know where to place the actor(s), how they should act while speaking, and what kinds of props are necessary to complete the scene. An animation director needs to be able to move the characters around the screen, direct the emotional involvement of the voice actors, and create props and backgrounds for the scenes.

The requirements are the same. The director needs to be involved, to know what he is doing, and how he is doing it. A good director will not always be good.

Acting in animation is no different than acting in a live action film. Imagine if Eddie Murphy decided not to play “Donkey” again in “Shrek 2.” Would the quality be the same?

As much as they are similar, animation also requires many different skills and talents that are not necessary with live action. Being able to develop character motion is totally different than position actors against a background. While in live action, you already have a backdrop, or a background positioned, in animation, the animators need to create not just the background, but the whole entire environment needs to be digitally re-created. Making an animated movie could be cheaper than making a live action, since the directors don’t need to pay high prices for top-name actors.

Another advantage of animation is that significant money is saved on having entire movies and scenes stored digitally, instead of having to purchase reels of 35mm just to film the movie.

Animation isn’t a field all by itself. Animation is commonly used to edit and improve and enhance SFX-intensive movies. This type of animation is sometimes referred to as “Digital Enhancement” technology, and is not based on totally animated movies. “The Lord Of The Rings” used so much special effects, that it took the better part of a year just to add and render the special effects for the film, after post production and the earlier effects were already complete. One scene, for example is a bird-eye panorama stretching out the length of the Pellenor Fields, and you see, literally hundreds of thousands of soldiers and orcs mixing it up in battle. The shot is entirely computer generated.

Digital technology is not the only form of animation. Traditional cel-animation is a tool that is going out the door. Some TV shows still utilize flipbook-style cel animation, however, the coloring is now almost always done digitally, and the drawings are no longer done totally by hand. Disney’s last ever movie done completely in 2-D animation, “Home on the Range,” was released in April, and competing studios are busy retraining the artists to work in 3-D . The use of digital effects in live action movies is an ever-increasing field, as more and more directors take up the science fiction/ fantasy genre. Regular computer animation, in the hands of a giant like Pixar, is a relatively new but very successful field.

As much as I enjoy watching different types of movies, it is animation that I enjoy the most. The emotion displayed in character animation, often rivals actors in the mainstream film industry. Traditional hand drawn cel animation is pretty much obsolete in the film industry. As much skill that is put into a live action film, it is far outweighed by the talents and skills necessary to produce a standard animation. Therefore, I feel that animation is a higher quality type of movie than live action.

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