Family Movies News

Live-Action/Animation Hybrid Films

The motivation for going to the theater to watch the latest film release varies, and can include the desire to entertain the senses, a passion for learning something new, or the simulated venture to places near and far.
While most films place audiences in an altered sense of realism, live-action/animation hybrid films are a unique genre blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. Two years ago, Sony Pictures Animation took Peyo's little blue mushroom-dwelling creatures and brought them to life inside our modern-day world. The Smurfs, deemed a global phenomenon, will return to the screen once again on July 31 for a Parisian adventure transcending culture and generation.   
The very first live-action/animated film dates back to the early 1900s, and this technique is very common in television commercials. But what is the draw for this incredibly technical and often challenging technique? While the Smurfs have been entertaining audiences around the world for over 50 years, it has been many years since the television series went off air. Not only were the filmmakers presented with the challenge of reintroducing these characters to new and familiar audiences, they had to do so in a way that was authentic and exciting. 
Bringing the Smurfs into a three-dimensional, CG-animated world was ideal for beginning the next chapter of their story. A good film includes characters that audiences believe and relate to. Bringing the Smurfs into our world helped provide a sense of sincerity that these little blue creatures do in fact exist and are capable of expressing emotion much like humans do. When a film seamlessly blends animation and live action, the result is that they enhance the connection audiences feel, inspiring them to believe. 
In anticipation of the Smurfy adventure, let's take a look back at some of the most celebrated live-action/animated films:
1. The Enchanted Drawing
One cannot talk about live-action/animated films without taking note of this silent film that featured the first animated sequence. The story follows a cartoonist who defies reality when he draws a cartoon face and a series of objects that become part of the drawing and then become physical objects outside of the drawing. 
2. Anchors Aweigh
One of the standout scenes from this 1945 musical comedy features a musical number between Gene Kelly and Jerry, the cartoon mouse from Tom and Jerry. The film stars Frank Sinatra and Kelly as two sailors who go ashore for four days in Hollywood. Here is where they meet aspiring singer Kathryn Grayson, assisting her to get an audition at MGM.  
3. Mary Poppins
Based on the book series by P.L. Travers, Disney's musical film tells the story of nanny Mary Poppins who magically appears to take the Banks children on a series of adventures with important life lessons. Don't miss the scene where Mary uses Bert's chalk pavement drawings to enter the animated countryside where adventures await them. 
4. The Three Caballeros
Walt Disney's first official feature combining animation and live-action was actually produced in part to promote positive relations between the U.S. and Latin America during World War II. The film, which is purely entertaining, strings together a series of film segments tied together by the common theme of Donald Duck's birthday. Music and humor make this a lesser known classic. The standout live-action/animated scene features Donald Duck singing and dancing with a woman.
5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
When people think about live-action/animated films, they often reference this fantasy-comedy film directed by the renowned Robert Zemeckis. Based on Gary K. Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the film tells the story of Eddie Valiant, who is investigating the murder of a cartoon character. The filmmakers were forward thinking in their blending of live action and animation, and the film is often cited as being integral to the progression of modern animation. Don't miss the scene inside the Ink & Paint Club featuring a piano duel between Donald and Daffy Duck.
Caryn authors Rockin’ Mama, a lifestyle blog which focuses on everything from food and travel to film and fashion. To read more by Caryn, visit or follow her on Twitter @RockinMama.
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