Database for Animation Studies


Avatar and Utopia

Compositing multiple plates into a single image creates challenges for lighting, grading and editing, while the distinct methods of each produces aesthetic challenges in creating apparently coherent space. The challenge is all the greater because digital screens and projectors afford only a strictly limited form of display, and the codecs associated with them share features that force these constructions of space to conform to the Cartesian grid of two-dimensional geometry. Avatar (James Cameron, 2009) attempts to build a coherent diegesis but fails because of these issues, which are redoubled in other technical domains, notably motion capture, and in the narrative. Nonetheless, ideological readings can only provide a negative response: careful analysis reveals utopian possibilities in composited live action and animated spectacle that need also to be included in the critical armoury.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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