Thursday, February 11, 2010

Outstanding Motion-Capture Acting Not Fit for Oscars?

It's already old news that the acting of the cast of the James Cameron all-time blockbuster, Avatar, were ignored by the 2010 Oscar Awards voters and failed to earn nominations. There could be a number of reasons why the Avatar performances were ignored, but what comes at the top is the fact that the movie's characters are "animated" and do not really show the actors themselves acting.

Director James Cameron disagrees. At the Producers Guild Awards, he says people simply confuse what they have done in the film with animation. "It's nothing like animation," he says. "The creator here is the actor, not the unseen hand of an animator." Co producer Jon Landau agrees with Cameron, saying it was a disappointment, but then he he adds, "I blame ourselves for not educating people in the right way. He explains that the system used in Avatar isn't simply motion capture, but rather emotion capture. He says the breakthrough involves photographing the facial features and expressions of the actors during performances which captures "every twitch and muscle movement."

Watching the cast of Avatar perform as computer-generated characters is really amazing. Even when they didn't look human, their faces definitely showed nuances that could only be portrayed by real actors. In the scene where Zoe Saldana's character, Neytiri, confronts Sam Worthington's, Jake, for betraying her trust, her expression is so real and true you'd feel the alien woman's hurt and denial at the same time. See how Saldana's acting is faithfully captured in the photo on top? For all it's worth, that one scene is already enough to win Saldana a best supporting actress award at the Oscars. Oh, those green dots on her face isn't chicken pox, nor are they bioluminescent Na'vi alien facial dots. They're emotion-capture markers.

But where does this all lead? Will awards organizers recognize and qualify motion-capture acting in future Oscars? Or will there be a new category for the acting awards? What's clear is that with more movies using the kind of motion (or emotion)-capture technology in Avatar, the Oscars may have to adapt with the changing times. In that light, I'd like to add there was a time when actors only performed on a stage. When motion-picture technology came about, the "acting" of the actors was then "captured" by a camera into film rolls which were played in a movie house. I believe critics in those days may have said that "film acting" is not the same as "stage acting." Well, times have changed and life goes on.
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This is the official Neytiri Limited Edition Signed (by James Cameron himself) Paper Giclee. It's limited to only 50 pieces worldwide and very rare and expensive! Click here or on the image to place your order.

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