Oscars 2014 – Best Animated Feature Film

What is Animation?

Animation is the process of displaying still images in a rapid sequence to create the illusion of movement. These images can be hand drawn, computer generated, or pictures of 3D objects. Though most people associate animation with cartoons, it also has applications in industrial and scientific research. Regardless of the type, the viewer’s body plays a main role in why people see continuous movement instead of a series of quickly changing images.

Types

There are three main types of animation: traditional, stop motion, and computer generated. Each can be used to make both 2D or 3D images. There are also other less common forms, many of which focus on using an unusual medium like sand or glass to create the images, as well as combinations of live action and drawings or computer created images.

Traditional

Traditional animation involves drawing every frame of a film by hand. After all the drawings are completed and colored, they can be photographed or scanned into a computer and then combined with sound on film. The process is extremely time-consuming, since it requires the creation of around 24 drawings per second of film. It’s also labor-intensive, which is why most traditionally animated films are produced by large companies.

Stop Motion

In this process, animators manipulate and photograph objects one motion and frame at a time. The objects can be almost anything, ranging from clay figures to paper cut outs to household objects. Some stop motion films use actual people, who hold specific poses for individual frames. After photographing the objects, the photos are then transferred to film and combined with sound, as with the traditional method.

Computer Generated

Animators can also use computer software to create films and models, which is generally faster than the traditional method. The characters and objects they make can be either two-dimensional or three-dimensional, but the process for creating each type is a little different. For 2D computer generated animation, the animator creates a series of images with each one very slightly different from the last, very similarly to the traditional method. To create 3D images, he or she has to make a model of the character or object. This can be done by creating animation variables, which are points on a computer model that can be moved to create a different posture or look, or by using motion capture, in which a live actor acts the part of the character and his or her motions are recorded and applied to the computer-created model.

Uses

Though most people think of animation as being used primarily for entertainment in movies, TV shows, and video games, it has many other uses. It’s commonly used in educational videos and advertisements both on TV and on the Internet, and it can also be used in the process of research and development to create simulations of how a machine or process would work. This can help designers troubleshoot problems without having to actually create the physical object. Scientists use animation as well to create visualizations of abstract concepts or objects that are too small or large to be seen easily, which is helpful both for research and for analysis.

Role of the Viewer

Animated films and models aren’t actually moving, but people see the illusion of movement because of a phenomenon called persistence of vision. In this phenomenon, the brain and eyes cooperate to store images for fractions of a second, and the brain smooths out any minor jumps or blips automatically. Since animated frames are shot at very fast rates, people generally see the movement without stoppages.

And the Nominees for Best Animated Feature are….

The Croods

A prehistoric family are forced to flee their cave after it’s destroyed by a disaster that threatens to change their lives forever in this animated adventure featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone. As a protective caveman father leads his family out of harm’s way, the clan crosses paths with a resourceful teen named Guy (voice of Ryan Reynolds), who offers to help them reach a distant land where they’ll be safe from an impending catastrophe that will soon alter the entire world. (From Fandango)

Despicable Me 2

This is the only one of the nominees that I “have seen” That is to say…I took the kids to the Theatre to see it, but I was so tired that I fell asleep right after the opening credits, and slept through the first half of it. 😦

But my kids loved it 🙂

While Gru, the ex-supervillain is adjusting to family life and an attempted honest living in the jam business, a secret Arctic laboratory is stolen. The Anti-Villain League decides it needs an insider’s help and recruits Gru in the investigation. Together with the eccentric AVL agent, Lucy Wilde, Gru concludes that his prime suspect is the presumed dead supervillain, El Macho, whose his teenage son is also making the moves on his eldest daughter, Margo. Seemingly blinded by his overprotectiveness of his children and his growing mutual attraction to Lucy, Gru seems on the wrong track even as his minions are being quietly kidnapped en masse for some malevolent purpose. – Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Ernest & Celestine

A towering bear named Ernest befriends a tiny mouse named Celestine in this gentle adaptation of the beloved children’s book by author Gabrielle Vincent. Celestine (voice of Mackenzie Foy) is an orphaned mouse who lives underground. An artist at heart, Celestine is training to become a dentist when she meets cantankerous bear Ernest (voice of Forest Whitaker), who has emerged from his remote woodland cottage in search of food, and nearly becomes his breakfast. Instead of being frightened by Ernest like most mice, however, Celestine strikes up a friendship with the misunderstood giant. Before long Ernest and Celestine are inseparable, but can their friendship last in a world where mice have been taught to fear bears, and bears have been taught never to play with their food? Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, and Jeffrey Wright also lend their voices to this traditionally animated children’s fantasy that was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2014 Academy Awards. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Frozen

This film is the front runner this year, among audiences and industry insiders alike. I am certainly hearing nothing but good things from every child AND adult I know that has seen the film.

After the kingdom of Arendelle is cast into eternal winter by the powerful Snow Queen Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), her sprightly sister Anna (Kristen Bell) teams up with a rough-hewn mountaineer named Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his trusty reindeer Sven to break the icy spell. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee co-directed this Walt Disney Animation Studios production based on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tale The Snow Queen. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

The Wind Rises

I love love love Hayao Miyazaki’s work. I was introduced to it by my husband with Spirited Away. The Wind Rises is to be his farewell piece and it has VERY good reviews. I am inclined to vote this as the winner in this category..which would be a great way to end a career, but with Disney’s marketing machine apparently pushing Frozen to the forefront, I am not so sure of its chances. But if either of them win, I would be happy.

In “The Wind Rises,” Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the world’s most innovative and accomplished airplane designers. The film chronicles much of his life, depicting key historical events, including the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan’s plunge into war. Jiro meets and falls in love with Nahoko, and grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo. Writer/director Hayao Miyazaki pays tribute to engineer Jiro Horikoshi and author Tatsuo Hori in this epic tale of love, perseverance, and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world.

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