As audience demand for effects-driven blockbusters grows, the lines
between animation and live-action, already blurred, will come close to

That's the prediction of Yair Landau, vice-chairman of
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and president of its Sony Pictures
Digital (SPD) division.

'Visual effects and animation dominate the moviegoing experience like
at no time in history,' Landau said.

Speaking yesterday (Wednesday) during The Media Summit, backed by Screen International,at BFI Southbank, Landau pointed out that every one of the top 10 films at the 2007 box-office hits was either a digital effects film or an animated movie.

These box-office hits accounted for over a third of the overall
worldwide box-office in 2007.

More and more films are being made in which the 'environment is
animated but the people are real or the people are animated but the
environment is real. That is the broad trend in terms of large-scale
digital production,' Landau said.

Over half of Spiderman 3 is animation. The traffic, though, is two-way.
Just as live-action films use more animation, animated movies are
brorrowing more live action.

'At Sony Pictures Imageworks, we use a lot of love-action technology
and techniques to try to enhance the animated storytelling.'

In Oscar season, films like Beowulf, I Am Legend and Spiderman 3 may
not be winning awards but they - Landau asserted - are clearly the
movies that audiences want to see.

'I see it as a harbinger of where we are going. Obviously, a lot of
this (digital production) is incredibly expensive, very time-consuming
and involves a ton of artists and technology,' Landau said. Even so, he
predicted that the box-office will continue to be dominated by movies
combining the best of live action and digital animation techniques.

'That is what the world wants from Hollywood,' Landau said. 'I think
the top 10 films will be like this next year and beyond. What we've
gotten to is a place where filmmakers and storytellers are not in any
way limited now by technology from creating anything they can imagine.
Any story that somebody brings to paper you can make feel real.'

He suggested that a new generation of filmmakers is now comfortable
'integrating digital production into the basic fabric of the way they
tell their stories.'

Asked whether cinema will soon see digitally created movie stars,
Landau suggested that they already exist in animation. 'Mr Incredible
is a digital star.

Buzz and Woody are digital stars.' However, he suggested that digital movie stars aren't the long-term goal of the digital production revolution.

'We all want to see humans being. We want people looking each other in the eye and emoting. The question is how many CGI characters will they interact with...if you have a love affair between a human and a CGI character, will you feel more strongly for the CGI character than the human''