As it is the norm, the term is usually superfluous, but it makes an important distinction in situations in which one might normally expect animation, as in a Pixar film, a video game, or when the work is adapted from an animated cartoon, such as Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, 101 Dalmatians films, or The Tick television program.
The term is also used within the animation world to refer to non-animated characters: in a live-action/animated film such as Space Jam, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, or Mary Poppins in which humans and cartoons co-exist, "live-action" characters are the "real" actors, such as Bob Hoskins and Julie Andrews, as opposed to the animated "actors", such as Roger Rabbit himself.
As use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in films has become a major trend, some critics, such as Mark Langer, have been discussing the relationship and overlap between live action and animation. These new films that use computer-generated special effects can not be compared to live action films using cartoon characters because of the perceived realism of both styles combined.
- "Merriam Webster Online Dictionary". Merriam-Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/live-action.
- McMahan, Alison (2014-08-21). "Hollywood's Transition to CGI". The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Contemporary Hollywood. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 013210475X. https://books.google.nl/books?id=D6UMBAAAQBAJ&dq=live-action&source=gbs_navlinks_s. Retrieved 2014-12-19.
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