James Cameron: “I’m not interested in being an animator”


In last week’s LA Times, James Cameron continued to assert his position that Avatar isn’t animation, though at least he’s acknowledging now that “a whole team of animators” is used in the process:

“I’m not interested in being an animator. . . . That’s what Pixar does. What I do is talk to actors. ‘Here’s a scene. Let’s see what you can come up with,’ and when I walk away at the end of the day, it’s done in my mind. In the actor’s mind, it’s done. There may be a whole team of animators to make sure what we’ve done is preserved, but that’s their problem. Their job is to use the actor’s performance as an absolute template without variance for what comes out the other end.”

In the LA Times, animation director Henry Selick also weighed in publicly for the first time on the issue:

“The academy has to come to terms with where [performance capture] goes. Is it animation? Is it a new category? I’m like the academy. I don’t know where it fits. I will tell you this, animators have to work very, very hard with the motion-capture data. After the performance is captured, it’s not just plugged into the computer which spits out big blue people. It’s a hybrid.”

In response to the recent article, Kristin Thompson at Observations on Film Art has written a thoughtful article about the hybrid nature of the performance and the disingenousness of Camerons’ claim that the creative work ends with his actors.

(Earlier Brew coverage about the amount of animation in Avatar can be found here, here, here, and here.)