Oscar snubs "Avatar's" motion-capture actors

Tue Feb 2, 2010 9:34pm EST
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By Alex Ben Block

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Although "Avatar" has blasted through box office records and scored nine Academy Award nominations Tuesday, its producers are frustrated that the movie's actors were ignored by Oscar voters.

Zoe Saldana and James Worthington failed to earn nominations Tuesday for their motion-capture work in the sci-fi spectacular.

"People confuse what we have done with animation," director James Cameron said at the recent Producers Guild Awards, where he and fellow producer Jon Landau lost to "The Hurt Locker."

"It's nothing like animation. The creator here is the actor, not the unseen hand of an animator," he added.

The Oscars snub is "a disappointment," said Landau, "but I blame ourselves for not educating people in the right way."

Landau explained that they needed to make clear that the system they used represents a new way to use "motion capture" photography, or as Landau puts it, "emotion capture."

A key breakthrough in "Avatar" involves photographing facial features of the actors with a tiny camera suspended from a skull cap in front of the performer's face that caught every twitch and muscle movement, all faithfully reproduced onscreen.

"We made a commitment to our actors that what they would see up on the screen were their performances," Landau said, "not somebody else's interpretation of what their performance might or might not be."   Continued...