Vivek Haldar

Why James Cameron did not win the Academy award for best director for Avatar

Say you were a runner. But you took a different view of what “running” is than everyone else. While they drew the line for running enhancements at $200 running shoes and state-of-the-art energy drinks, you went further – a lot further. You designed and built a running exoskeleton. It let you run faster, better, longer, stronger. “But that’s not real running!”, they said. “Why not? Is the goal to run with what you have, or just run?” And running with what you have is a fine goal, you thought, but surely everyone doesn’t have to stop there? You saw an entire new world, if only you could get some help from these new tools.

The way Cameron built Avatar was not considered to be “real directing”. Much of the work, if not most of it, was in building the tools and technology (new cameras, new CG techniques). The builders of animated movies have been snubbed from the best director category for the same reason. They create the final output on theĀ screen in manner that is more akin to painting than using humans in a set. The process has many similarities to programming, because, to be sure, a lot of it is the output of complex programs, but also because the final output is compiled and rendered like the way program binaries are — through a chain of manipulations, translations and composition.

Maybe there should be a category for “best creator”.