Rule changes for animated features and Best Visual Effects

Posted by · 10:49 am · July 8th, 2010

A few weeks ago the Academy’s visual effects committee was set to vote on expanding the Best Visual Effects category to five nominees. Today, the rule has officially gone into the books, according to a press release. The rules governing animated feature eligibility have also been altered to make room for films that run at least 40 minutes, rather than 70 minutes, which could allow space for some obscure entries.

The release, in part:

The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finalized the rules for the 83rd Academy Awards at its most recent meeting (June 22). The most significant change is in the Visual Effects category, which will now feature five nominees rather than three…

In the Animated Feature Film category, the rule governing running time for a motion picture to qualify was changed from at least 70 minutes to greater than 40 minutes, which is consistent with the running time requirements for feature films in all other categories. The running time for a motion picture to qualify as an animated, live action or documentary short film has been and continues to be a maximum of 40 minutes. The previous 70-minute threshold for an animated feature had left a gap for films that ran between 40 and 70 minutes, effectively preventing them from being able to qualify as either features or shorts.

Also, regarding motion capture, new language was put in place to indicate, clearly, that the technique will not be considered animation.

To wit:

An animated feature film is defined as a motion picture with a running time of greater 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.”

And there you have it. Thoughts?

(Serendipitous day for this, by the way.  Gerard’s first installment of Tech Support hits later this afternoon.)

→ 17 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

17 responses so far

  • 1 7-08-2010 at 11:03 am

    Carlo said...

    i have to agree with both rulings. good to know the Academy is making sense, especially with the additional provisions about motion capture:)

  • 2 7-08-2010 at 11:17 am

    James D. said...

    Would it be safe to say that the 40 minute qualification will make it likely that there will be enough eligible films every year to guarantee five nominees?

  • 3 7-08-2010 at 11:38 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Probably, James.

  • 4 7-08-2010 at 12:08 pm

    Hans said...

    Why was it 70 minutes in the first place? Interesting about the motion capture. Would we have still had enough contenders for five nominees last year? Also, what about films like Alvin and the Chipmunks that get submitted for animated feature (was G-Force in there, too, last year?)?

    Good about the Visual Effects category. That was about 5 years late.

  • 5 7-08-2010 at 12:35 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    VFX expanding to 5 is about damn time, glad to see it finally being official.

    Not sure I agree that a film as short as should classify as a feature length animated film though, but I suppose it’s good they’re plugging a black void that’d leave films without eligibility in either category, and it’s not very likely any obscure 45-minute films are going to end up nominated anyway.

    And I do agree, motion capture isn’t animation, so I’m glad to see that put into words as well.

  • 6 7-08-2010 at 12:36 pm

    Estefan said...

    I love the motion-capture rule. It annoys me when people call Avatar and The Polar Express animated films, when the characters are motion-capture.

    “Motion capture by itself is not an animation technique.” I have been saying that for who knows how long.

  • 7 7-08-2010 at 12:47 pm

    Mike Smolinski said...

    Now, if they would only bring back the Adapted Music Score category. If there can be Original and Adapted Screenplays (and please keep them; I’m a writer), why can’t there be Original and Adapted Scores? Especially now that musicals are back in fashion and re-mixing and mashups of classic songs are in vogue. Give some credit to music arrangers as well as scorers! Please!

  • 8 7-08-2010 at 2:18 pm

    red_wine said...

    The motion capture rule is very vague. First of all, who is to know? What if Pixar uses algorithms that have been mapped from human mo-capped data? We’ll see how real it looks and just call it Pixar’s artistry.

    Secondly, it still puts movies like Avatar and Zemeckis films in a grey area. Okay taking aide the lead characters, who are mo-capped, the rest of the screen is still animated, the entire plants/animals/environment/buildings are still animated, so animation still figures in 75% of the film.

    Alvin and the Chipmunks, G-Force, Stuart Little and other such films still qualify as Animated films and all were submitted and accepted due to the lame-ass definition. Today’s blockbusters are so reliant on computers that people would be shocked by the no. of films that could qualify as animated due to this definition. Alice would qualify too I think.

  • 9 7-08-2010 at 4:10 pm

    Maxim said...

    Kris, I have a question too:

    Do you think that the new definition of animated films will have an effect on projects like Tintin?

    Tintin uses motion capture in addition to computer animation but it is unclear whether the mere fact that motion capture is used will automaticlly rule its out eligibility.

  • 10 7-09-2010 at 7:13 am

    Mike_M said...

    Great moves, all make sense… now if they would just tidy up the situation with Best Original Song…

  • 11 7-09-2010 at 11:01 am

    Derek 8-Track said...

    for a second when i read ‘motion capture’ I was thinking ‘stop motion’ and got a little scared. whew

  • 12 7-09-2010 at 2:39 pm

    Fitz said...

    Does anyone else think motion capture performances should get their own acting category? It’s obvious that motion capture films won’t be recognized, but there are some excellent performances that should be rewarded.

  • 13 7-09-2010 at 7:36 pm

    Glenn said...

    The motion capture thing makes sense (so would movies like “A Christmas Carol” qualify for visual effects??) but the 40 minute rule is questionable. We’ll see, I guess, but 70 minutes made sense. That’s “feature length” in a sort of traditional way.

    The five nominees in visual effects? It makes sense due to the number of films utilising the field, but it just opens the door for more terrible movies to be labelled Oscar nominated (but, then again, as Gerard points out in his Tech Support column the Academy are doing a good enough of job of that themselves – hello Norbit).

  • 14 7-09-2010 at 8:18 pm

    Pablo (BOG) said...

    Its great that they think motion capture is not animation, because its not.

    Does that mean that an actor may be nominated for a motion capture role ? For example Andy Serkis in LOTR or any of the actors in Avatar ?

    So i guess motion capture is would be considered special effects although is not exactly that.

    I guess it all comes down to the percentages: how much CGI, how much motion capture,…

  • 15 7-09-2010 at 8:33 pm

    Pablo (BOG) said...

    By the way, I think Harry Potter deserves a nomination this year and what best than a Visual Effects nom ? I also believe Art Direction and Cinematography will be great.

  • 16 7-11-2010 at 9:00 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    If we’re taking bets on what the next category added to the ceremony will be, if ever applicable, put me down for Best Color Correction

  • 17 3-06-2011 at 10:19 am

    Maxim said...

    Asked this before but now that it’s 2011, any thought on wether the rule change will automatically affect Tintin?