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Oscar animators ready to be taken seriously

  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Edgar "E" Gore, voiced by Atticus Shaffer in a scene from "Frankenweenie." The Disney film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Disney, file)

    FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Edgar "E" Gore, voiced by Atticus Shaffer in a scene from "Frankenweenie." The Disney film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney, file)

  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Focus Features shows characters, from left, Grandma Babcock, voiced by Elaine Stritch, Sandra Babcock, voiced by Leslie Mann, Perry Babcock, voiced by Jeff Garlin, Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Courtney, voiced by Anna Kendrick, in the 3D stop-motion film, "ParaNorman."  The Focus Features animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated  Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Focus Features, File)

    FILE - This publicity film image released by Focus Features shows characters, from left, Grandma Babcock, voiced by Elaine Stritch, Sandra Babcock, voiced by Leslie Mann, Perry Babcock, voiced by Jeff Garlin, Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Courtney, voiced by Anna Kendrick, in the 3D stop-motion film, "ParaNorman." The Focus Features animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Focus Features, File)

  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Focus Features shows characters, from left, Grandma Babcock, voiced by Elaine Stritch, Sandra Babcock, voiced by Leslie Mann, Perry Babcock, voiced by Jeff Garlin, Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Courtney, voiced by Anna Kendrick, in the 3D stop-motion film, "ParaNorman."  The Focus Features animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated  Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Focus Features, File)

    FILE - This publicity film image released by Focus Features shows characters, from left, Grandma Babcock, voiced by Elaine Stritch, Sandra Babcock, voiced by Leslie Mann, Perry Babcock, voiced by Jeff Garlin, Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Courtney, voiced by Anna Kendrick, in the 3D stop-motion film, "ParaNorman." The Focus Features animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Focus Features, File)

  • FILE - In this undated publicity film image released by Disney/Pixar, the character Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, follows a Wisp in a scene from "Brave."  The Disney/Pixar animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney/Pixar, File)

    FILE - In this undated publicity film image released by Disney/Pixar, the character Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, follows a Wisp in a scene from "Brave." The Disney/Pixar animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney/Pixar, File)

  • FILE - In this undated publicity film image released by Disney/Pixar, the character Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, follows a Wisp in a scene from "Brave."  The Disney/Pixar animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney/Pixar, File)

    FILE - In this undated publicity film image released by Disney/Pixar, the character Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, follows a Wisp in a scene from "Brave." The Disney/Pixar animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney/Pixar, File)

  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Ralph, left, voiced by John C. Reilly in a scene from "Wreck-It Ralph." The Disney animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney, File)

    FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Ralph, left, voiced by John C. Reilly in a scene from "Wreck-It Ralph." The Disney animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney, File)

  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Ralph, left, voiced by John C. Reilly in a scene from "Wreck-It Ralph." The Disney animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney, File)

    FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Ralph, left, voiced by John C. Reilly in a scene from "Wreck-It Ralph." The Disney animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney, File)

  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Edgar "E" Gore, voiced by Atticus Shaffer in a scene from "Frankenweenie." The Disney film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Disney, file)

    FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Edgar "E" Gore, voiced by Atticus Shaffer in a scene from "Frankenweenie." The Disney film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney, file)

  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Edgar "E" Gore, voiced by Atticus Shaffer in a scene from "Frankenweenie." The Disney film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Disney, file)
  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Focus Features shows characters, from left, Grandma Babcock, voiced by Elaine Stritch, Sandra Babcock, voiced by Leslie Mann, Perry Babcock, voiced by Jeff Garlin, Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Courtney, voiced by Anna Kendrick, in the 3D stop-motion film, "ParaNorman."  The Focus Features animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated  Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Focus Features, File)
  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Focus Features shows characters, from left, Grandma Babcock, voiced by Elaine Stritch, Sandra Babcock, voiced by Leslie Mann, Perry Babcock, voiced by Jeff Garlin, Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Courtney, voiced by Anna Kendrick, in the 3D stop-motion film, "ParaNorman."  The Focus Features animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated  Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Focus Features, File)
  • FILE - In this undated publicity film image released by Disney/Pixar, the character Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, follows a Wisp in a scene from "Brave."  The Disney/Pixar animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney/Pixar, File)
  • FILE - In this undated publicity film image released by Disney/Pixar, the character Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, follows a Wisp in a scene from "Brave."  The Disney/Pixar animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney/Pixar, File)
  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Ralph, left, voiced by John C. Reilly in a scene from "Wreck-It Ralph." The Disney animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney, File)
  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Ralph, left, voiced by John C. Reilly in a scene from "Wreck-It Ralph." The Disney animated film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Disney, File)
  • FILE - This publicity film image released by Disney shows Edgar "E" Gore, voiced by Atticus Shaffer in a scene from "Frankenweenie." The Disney film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category. The 85th Academy Awards are on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Disney, file)

In the animated feature film category at this year’s Oscars, there’s a film set in medieval Scotland, another that features old-school video game characters and one that relies heavily on dry British humor, while the other two take inspiration from the supernatural.

It’s not exactly kid stuff – and that’s how the directors like it.

“I think this year with these films – and so many more – the envelope for animation is being pushed,” said Brave director Mark Andrews at an Academy Awards event Thursday night honoring the animated feature film nominees. “We keep seeing more risky, deep films that we wouldn’t have seen 10 years ago coming out. I wanna be one of those guys pushing it more and more and more because it’s not only an awesome medium, but there’s so many more stories that we can tell.”

The Scotland-set Brave, a darker fable from Pixar about a rebellious red-headed princess named Merida, will face off against four other animated films at tomorrow’s 85th annual Academy Awards. The category was first introduced at the 2002 ceremony, with Shrek winning the inaugural trophy.

Despite the less lighthearted tone of this year’s animated nominees, none cracked the best picture category for a spot alongside the likes of Argo, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. (Only three animated films have ever been nominated for best picture at the Oscars: Beauty and the Beast, Up and Toy Story 3.)

Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas mastermind Tim Burton could take home his first-ever Oscar at the Dolby Theatre ceremony for Frankenweenie, his black-and-white stop-motion film based on his 1984 live-action short film of the same name.

Frankenweenie is among three of the five Oscar nominated films this year that employ stop-motion, the intricate and time consuming animation method that use miniature sculptures and sets. Despite a strong stop-motion presence at this year’s Oscars, Burton cited finances, not the omnipresence of computer animation, as the reason that more stop-motion films aren’t produced.

“In the case of Frankenweenie, it’s not like it was a studio wish-list to-do: ‘Let’s make black-and-white stop-motion animation,’ ” said Burton. “You hope it can survive. We all love it.”

The other stop-motion nominees are the English seafaring comedy Pirates! Band of Misfits from director Peter Lord and the undead tale ParaNorman from directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler.

Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore told the crowd at the motion picture academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters that he never envisioned the video game adventure from Disney as a musical, but Book of Mormon co-writer Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez did create an original song for the film.

“It didn’t work, so it’s not in the movie,” said Moore. “That’s our process. We throw it against the wall, and the stuff that sticks stays in the movie.”

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