So it seems Toy Story 3 won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (as well as receiving three other nominations and one other win).
I know there are some Toy Story fans here, but I’ve never been hooked by the franchise. Among other factors, the images themselves have always felt pretty cold and artificial. I have seen parts of it, including a sequence that was linked from this board as a particularly affecting one (a reaction I understood, but didn’t feel enough to watch any of the TS movies in entirety).
Anyway, cartoon historian Michael Barrier was interviewed here, just before the Awards.
I think I agree with him that the inorganic nature of CGI production, in which the direct hand of the artist is removed from the details of the image, removes a quality that fans of classic old hand-drawn animation rightfully cherish.
On the other hand, I’m skeptical about the conversion of this position into the idea that the emotions evoked by CGI-rendered stories are “dishonest” or “synthetic.”
Thinking of an analogy with music… I love really organic acoustic music, either live or in good one-take recordings, where you can hear all the individual qualities and “imperfect” variances in the players, the instruments, even the room. Those qualities are a particular artistic dimension that is simply not present in music that relies on computer synthesis and studio manipulations. Yet–I like a lot of that music, too. People can do things with computers that they can’t do with fiddles and guitars (as well as vice-versa). The emotions electronic music evokes (when it’s good, of course) are different, but they’re still honest, aren’t they?
Of course, all sorts of films can be guilty of heavy-handing the emotional aspect of their stories. That’s certainly not only a product of the selected production technique, though it’s easier to be delicate in some forms than others. Barrier may be right that Up is manipulatively sentimental, but is it because it’s CGI? And does it mean anything different than if it were a manipulatively sentimental live-action film?
He has some further thoughts here, on his own site.