A post on the FLIP blog poses the question “Is it animation or is it puppetry and what is the difference?”. They are talking about the Cadbury fingers “Good Times” advert which uses puppets filmed in real time rather than with stop-motion filming.
The Cadbury fingers puppets are moved with rods in real time. If you study the picture from the advert on the right you can see rods leading up to the arms of the right-hand puppet. The puppet on the left has a rod visible between the legs. There is no attempt to hide the rods so my guess is that the advert is paying homage to Indonesia shadow puppet theatre. The Indonesian puppets are controlled with rods that are clearly visible to the audience and become part of the experience.
Cadbury fingers “Good Times” advert.
Flip blogger Steph quotes one of the definitions of “animate” given at Dictionary.com as “to give life to”. Since the puppets are made to move it is suggested that this is giving them life and could be counted as animation.
In my opinion the “Good Times” advert uses a method of creating movement we would associate with live puppet shows. This means it has more in common with live-action film making. The kind of film making we normally refer to as animation is created with stop-motion work where, if it is a puppet film, the puppets are moved when the camera is off.
A similar question could be applied to other branches of film making such as computer generated special effects. It then becomes more difficult to make a division because some of the computer work will involve actions created on single frames.
Perhaps the answer lies in being more specific when we speak of animation by adding the words “stop-motion”, “cartoon”, etc. What do you think?